Dick French: On The Town – November 2017

It used to be said that a night out with John Bellany would take three years off your life. I’ll find out one day. We were both great friends of Cyril Reason, who was one of our tutors at the RCA, and although Cyril was less extreme than Bellany he was a thirsty man. I’ll never forget one

night in The Yorker, a tall thin pub on

the RA schools were in the east wing. It’s a convincing argument that this led to //--> the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood who were fed up with the influence of Reynolds and the brown academic tradition of the time. They wanted brilliant colour and a more meticulous approach, Reynolds being characterised by his nickname “Sir Sloshua”. They started to paint on white grounds for sharpness and zing.

style="font-weight: 400;">They were also fascinated by the convex mirror on the wall behind the Arnolfinis google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; and many of them made use of the same device in their own work. It seems likely that Velasquez was aware of this portrait as it once belonged

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to the Spanish court, but I suspect it’s stretching it a bit to suggest it led to his


use of the mirror in Las Meninas. One of /* 9-970x90 */ the great surprises of this show is a partial copy of Las Meninas by John Phillip from 1862. It’s extremely well painted, especially the maids’ dresses, but surely it represents an approach the Pre-Raffs were trying to escape.

Also at the National is src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> a show of pastels by Degas, ‘Drawn in Colour’. Well worth seeing, especially the women bathing. There are three of these, quite large for pastels. In one a google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; woman bends over in a shallow blue tub, the blue of the tub reflected on her flank, and all against a red background. The pastel is laid on in broad parallel streaks in several built-up layers.

There are dancers, horsemen and café

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scenes mostly from the Burrell in Glasgow. Next door to Degas is a gallery devoted to small landscapes painted mostly on the

to the virgin who has arrived at the end
of her desire.”

I almost forgot,

it includes a “gravity regulator”.

Following a disappointing visit to The Chequers,

the wonderful Spanish barmaid having moved on, I crossed over to the RA to see the Duchamp/Dali exhibition.
Duchamp was quite a good cubist. He added some dynamism
whereas Dali’s attempts at the same style were dreary, but it wasn’t long before the Spaniard developed his trademark illusionistic technique which curator Dawn Ades considers exquisite. I would call it “hobbyist”.

All the familiar stuff

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is here, the bottle rack, stool/bicycle wheel, src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> and that bloody urinal. What tedium. How can anybody still be interested in this crap a hundred years on? But they are.

In one room there are a

series of short films. I