Sunday, 30 June 2013

L.S. Lowry - Tate Britain and The Lowry, Salford

L. S. Lowry, St. Augustine's Church, 1924
Was L.S. Lowry any good? A hugely popular painter, Lowry's defenders have long claimed that he has been subject to class-based, snobbish, prejudice; critics, however, will point to a repetitive, limited and mediocre composition and execution.
Now a major exhibition at Tate Britain attempts to honour him as an important British artist; a concurrent exhibition at the Salford arts centre which bears his name presents a show of less familiar work: Unseen Lowry: Paintings and Drawings from LS Lowry’s Home.
The Tate's exhibition  is curated by T.J. Clark and Anne M. Wagner and in their title, Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life, they are implicitly making a big claim: it recycles the title of Clark's important study of C19 French Painting, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers (1985) which, in turn, was a quote from Baudelaire.
I confess to being a Lowry sceptic; however, the Tate's exhibition has received some very positive reviews (see Adrian Searle, Laura Cumming, Jackie Wullschlager, Richard Dorment). I like Dorment's comment that this is "one of the exhibitions of the year, a show that anyone interested in British art should try to see – even if, like me, you hate every single moment you spend in it." Critics do seem to concur on a couple of points - neither favourable to Lowry: the curators' inclusion of works by Lowry's Impressionist 'mentors' clearly cast Lowry as the inferior artist; and Lowry's 1949 painting 'Cripples' (see below) is embarrassing and offensive!
See also, reviews by Waldemar Januszczak and Brian Sewell, and watch a short video: Tate Shots: Lowry.
The Tate's exhibition continues until 20 October, the exhibition at The Lowry, Salford until 29 September. Images below come from both shows.
Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life (Tate Britain)
L. S. Lowry,  Industrial Landscape, Wigan, 1925
L. S. Lowry, The Cripples, 1949
L. S. Lowry, Ancoats Hospital Outpatients' Hall, 1952
L. S. Lowry, Industrial Landscape (Ashton-under-Lyne), 1952

L. S. Lowry, Industrial Landscape, 1955
L. S. Lowry, Hillside in Wales, 1962
Unseen Lowry: Paintings and Drawings from LS Lowry’s Home.
L. S. Lowry, Pencil portrait: head of Tom Mallinson
L. S. Lowry,  Painting of the head of a girl
L. S. Lowry, Girl in a miniskirt
L. S. Lowry, Study of a football match
L. S. Lowry, Seascape with black coastline

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Gary Hume - Tate Britain

Gary Hume is at Tate Britain until 1 September 2013.
Gary Hume, Magnolia Door Eleven, 1989
Around 1987/8 Gary Hume made (as I thought then, and do so now) some perfect paintings: the 'Doors'. The large monochrome paintings were modelled on a pair of swing doors with porthole windows in St Bartholomew's Hospital. As recounted by Thomas Lawson in Gary Hume: Door Paintings (2008) Modern Art Oxford: The canvas was divided in half vertically, with a circle and a rectangle floating in each half... The graphic elements are drawn, then filled with colour, layer upon layer of high gloss house paint in those neutral off-whites designed to bring a sense of elegance to domestic interiors... As Hume says: "I found that gloss paint suited me entirely, and its qualities still intrigue me. It's viscous and fluid and feels like a pool. It's highly reflective, which means there are layers of looking." (p6)
Rather brilliantly visitors enter the Tate's exhibition through a pair of giant, pink, Hume doors.
Gary Hume, How To Paint A Door, 2013 (?) - Tate Britain
Hume was, perhaps, trapped for a while by the success of the doors: however, he has since forged a highly distinctive style of glossy paintings which hover between representation and abstraction. The Tate exhibition shows a selection of his work  from the last twenty years.
Read reviews by Waldemar Januszczak, Laura Cumming and Richard Dorment.
Gary Hume, Tony Blackburn, 1994
Gary Hume, Blackbird, 1988
Gary Hume, The Moon, 2009
Gary Hume, The Cradle, 2011
Gary Hume, Anxiety and the Horse. Angela Merkel, 2011
Gary Hume, Red Barn Door, 2009

Patrick Caulfield - Tate Britain

Patrick Caulfield is at Tate Britain until 1 September 2013.
Patrck Caulfield, Café Interior: Afternoon, 1973
I had forgotten what a beguiling and elegant artist Patrick Caulfield was. His precisely composed, precisely drawn, brilliantly coloured paintings mix deceptively, simple outline drawings with flat colour and occasional trompe l'oeil passages of detailed realism. They are mysterious, quiet and beautiful.
Read reviews by Laura Cumming and Richard Dorment, and a memoir of Caulfield by David Hare.

Patrick Caulfield, Portrait of Juan Gris, 1963

Patrick Caulfield, After Lunch, 1975

Patrick Caulfield, Pottery, 1969

Patrick Caulfield, Braque Curtain, 2005

Patrick Caulfield, Foyer, 1973

Patrick Caulfield, Bishops, 2004

Patrick Caulfield, Selected Grapes, 1981
Caulfield died in 2005 (read his obituary by William Feaver) and now rests in Highgate Cemetery in a self-designed tomb which declares in charactersistic, laconic style that he is DEAD!