Monday, January 29, 2018

Nineteen Seventies in Art (Tate)

Mary Fedden
The Etching Table
oil on canvas
Tate Gallery

René Burri
Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1971
Tate Gallery

Druidic Rimes

The mind went forth with naked eye
To take a turn about the sky.
The number of the stars was small,
Not 'numberless' at all.

Back then, the nature of the field
Was chiefly to be unrevealed.
But when the telescope was trained
Where only darkness reigned,

Or seemed to, light broke into being
As if to marry the eye's seeing
In the flowering of a cosmic spring
That grew like anything.

Astronomers then put their hopes
Into profounder telescopes,
And for a while the universe
Answered with stars and stars,

Whole galaxies and nebulae,
As if they'd just begun to be,
Blazed in the dark of outer space
As in the mind's dark place.


Now mind went forth without the eye
On waves beyond the visible sky:
Impulses from what scarce was matter
Bounced off a shallow platter

Into the realm of number pure,
The only measure made so sure
That mind was guaranteed to mind it
And always stand behind it.

Number went through the universe,
Numberless numbers in reverse
Came back in echo, pulse and blip;
It was as if the lip

Of silence learned to intimate
In integers that it might mate
Its dark selfhood to any mind
Consenting to go blind

Into the secret labyrinth
Of its own lens, and its first myth
Of sacrificing to the sky
The always naked eye.

– Howard Nemerov (1971)

Joseph Beuys
Four Blackboards
chalk on blackboards
Tate Gallery

David Inshaw
The Badminton Game
oil on canvas
Tate Gallery

The Vegetables

Their lives are legends, yet we always think of them
as disadvantaged. They can't inflate
their bicycle tires, for instance, and bicycle into town.
They can't write poems, or read poems, or think.

Ah, but these were decisions they arrived at long ago.
Why bother? they must have said to themselves. And so
they got on their bicycles and rode out to some empty stretch
of ground, fifty or a hundred of them at once, and dug in.

There each one preserves his solitude without denying
the needs of the community. Through the seasons they grow.
When Death discovers them, they are prepared,
in their long rows, with millions and millions of little jokes.

– Tom Disch (1972)

James Rosenquist
Off the Continental Divide
Tate Gallery

Philip Pearlstein
Nude on Striped Hammock
etching and aquatint
Tate Gallery

William Brooker
Still Life, New Studio
oil on canvas
Tate Gallery

from The Face

Out of the mist small points
grow, glow more brightly, leap
into razor-sharp detail.
The edge of a nebula is lit
by full starlight, band after bank
extending into space. The silhouette
of a horse's head rears above,
the crest of its mane streaming upward.
A luminous shell spatters outward
in clots of gold, an explosion
of broken bottles, piles of them
burning. The red on black of hydrogen
quivers in the center, a blacksmith's
glowing piece of iron in the fire;
pools of aquamarine are dispersed
in space like smoke, delicate
filaments of gas enriched by metals.
Dark spots are dust and gas, or cocoons
with newborn stars deep inside,
cool red giants a million years old.
The nebula is 24,000,000,000,000,000
miles away – it is like measuring
the Atlantic Ocean with a teaspoon.
To the left is the cluster
of stars in Berenice's Hair;
the light we see left 3000 million
years ago, long before man existed,
before the Sun and Earth were formed.

– John R. Carpenter (1974)

Prunella Clough
By the Canal
oil on canvas
Tate Gallery

Roy Lichtenstein
Entablature IV
Tate Gallery

Marketa Luskacova
Woman and man with bread, Spitalfields, London
gelatin silver print
Tate Gallery

from The Phaenomena

First study the horns on either side of the moon:
Evening, from time to time, will paint her with different colors,
From time to time the shape of both these horns will change
While the moon waxes – one way on the third day, one on the fourth.
You can learn from this about the month that's just begun:
If the moon looks slim and clear around the third day, then
It will be calm; but slim and reddish-looking means
Winds; while if her thick and blunted corners show
A weak light on the third and fourth nights, then her beams
Are being blunted by southern winds and rains to come.
If, on the third night, neither horn is tilted back
Or bent forward – the ends being vertical on both sides –
The western winds will follow soon thereafter that night.
But if they're still upright like that on the fourth day,
Then take it as a warning of an impending tempest.
If the upper horn seems to bend forward, the Boreal, northern
Wind will come down; if bent backward, the southern one.
But when on the third day a whole ring, very red,
Entirely surrounds her, a tempest is sure to come;
The more red-hot she looks, the stronger will be the storm.

– Aratus, translated by John Hollander (1976)

Don McCullin
Palestinian Fighter Training in Beirut
gelatin silver print
Tate Gallery

Anthony Eyton
Open Window, Spitalfields
oil on canvas
Tate Gallery

David Hepher
Albany Flats
oil paint and sand on canvas
Tate Gallery

from Fantasia on "The Nut-Brown Maid"

But the real "world"
Stretches its pretending into the side yard
Where I was waiting, at peace with my feelings, though now,
I see, resentful from the beginning for the change to happen
Like lilacs. We were walking
All along toward a door that seemed to recede
In the distance and now is somehow behind us, shut,
Though apparently it didn't lock automatically. How
Wonderful the fields are. They are
Like love poetry, all the automatic breathing going on
All around, and there are enchanted, many-colored
Things like houses to explore, if there were time,
But the house is built under a waterfall. The slanting
Roof and the walls are made of opaque glass, and
The emerald-green wall-to-wall carpeting is sopping moss.

– John Ashbery (1977)

Richard Hamilton
Interior with Monochromes
lithograph and screenprint
Tate Gallery

Lynne Cohen
Furniture Showroom
gelatin silver print
Tate Gallery

from Going to Press

Those close Denver evenings I'd drag myself
down to the green but treeless "park" hemmed
by light traffic, construction sites, a hospital,
whose reedy seepage deepened, widened, did
all it could to assert pondhood. Sprinklers
would be hurling ack-ack. Down I'd flop
into a start of coolness, watch little fish
dimple the surface, lip flies and flip out
flightily, plop-plop-plop like a skipped stone.
They soothed me, some. I'd think about the moors.

– Judith Moffett (1979)

Poems from the archives of Poetry (Chicago)