Thursday, April 18, 2013

Naivety. My own and more painterly stuff.

There's nothing I like better than exploring unknown territory - unless that is it's exploring unknown territory when someone else is driving.

So today was my lucky day - I hopped on Chirbury Art Club's bus to Compton Verney where the group were going to see, amongst other things, the exhibition '500 years of Italian Art'. The venue ticked a lot of boxes; attractive surroundings, non-scary Art in bite-sized pieces, coffee, cake and the company of friends.

I must admit that Compton Verney was not exactly unknown to me - having grown up nearby in mid-Warwickshire's bucolic landscape. However, I never visited as a child - it was not then a gallery or a destination and my parents were more than dismissive about the elegant but shabby stately home we passed occasionally en route to buy groceries or on one of those dreary Sunday afternoon drives which passed for entertainment in the early sixties.

My first thoughts as the little bus and its chattering cargo pulled into the car park, was regret that I hadn't appreciated previously that such a lovely place was on my doorstep. A finely-proportioned building of creamy Cotswold stone set in grounds landscaped by Capability Brown for heaven's sake! But then, would an 8 year old really have been bothered and later I suppose ... let's just say other stuff seemed more important. I feel vaguely foolish that as an adult in charge of my own life. I've never been this way before. Sigh. (One day I will make as list of things my parents said which would have been better left unheeded.)  Still, I'm here now and anticipating great delights....

The collections are fine, of high quality and not overwhelming - Neapolitan Art, Northern European paintings, British Portraiture, a Chinese collection and joy of joys - British Folk Art.

The visiting exhibition '500 years of Italian Art', on loan from Glasgow had us admiring a Boticelli, Titian and Belinni amongst other worthy pieces. At the end of our visit when D and I closed the door on the final gallery we'd succumbed to 'Art Fatigue'.

 'It's all a bit of a blur' admitted D 'I seem to have been looking at one fat baby after another....'

And yes, I know exactly what she meant - in the many religious works there were plenty of chubby children - not just the infant Christ but 'putti' too.

The Folk Art Collection came as quite a relief after rooms of more serious Art, having a guileless charm of its own. Here are depictions of everyday-life by self-taught painters; the prize ram or heifer, pugilists, street scenes, landscapes with carriage accidents and wild bulls; the largest or smallest; the drama of the day. The Fine Art of the chattering classes might be the art of galleries and high places but this is art by the people, for the people. This wonderful collection was amassed by the late art dealer Andras Kalman and exhibited here at Compton Verney courtesy of the Peter Moores Foundation.

Perspective and scale are frequently awry, anatomy suspect and distorted. It doesn't matter - these are confident pieces and great social statements.

It seemed that having a dog in your picture was almost a prerequisite. Once a couple had caught my eye I couldn't help spotting more. So instead of a plethora of putti, I give you plenty of pups:

......and for cat lovers this gorgeous tortoiseshell:

Isn't she just the loveliest thing?


Fennie said...

A hegemony of hounds - and very lovely too.

Compton - this and Compton that. What does Compton mean?

A cargo of comptons!

Cro Magnon said...

I have an early American 'primitive' of a dog; it would accompany those perfectly. I wish I could buy more!

Mac n' Janet said...

One or two putti go a long way, but I never get tired of puppies!

Z said...

A collection that has been put together by an individual for his or her own pleasure has huge appeal, doesn't it?

Frances said...

Mountaineer, I know something about what you say about early childhood appreciations of various sites and sights.

It's grand to have adult opportunities to see places with seasoned, evolved eyes. Your art filled trip sounds quite wonderful. I think I would have like the building itself, and would have appreciated the exhibit much as you did.

I always love the opportunity to see something for the first time. There's always that yearning to be amazed, or transfixed, or amused, or pleased.


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