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

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