Friday, August 05, 2011

More about painting

I've been enjoying the British Masters series on BBC4. Oxbridge Art Historian Dr. James Fox stares at symbolically thorny twigs in front of a sunset glow and roves up and down damp northern streets. He also talks about British (for this, read English) Painters of the 20th Century. He sees an unheralded and almost-forgotten 'golden age' of figurative painting stretching from the end of the Edwardian era until the suicide of Keith Vaughan in the late 1970s, taking in Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Stanley Spencer, David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Richard Hamilton and Lucian Freud, after which it all became about pickled sharks, diamond skulls and money.

Cray Fields - Graham Sutherland
Bonfire Night, Hay Bluff I - David Inshaw

(Except that it didn't: Peter Blake, Paula Rego, John Bellany, Stephen Conroy and Stephen Cambell all carried on the painterly tradition that Dr. Fox celebrates, but apparently they don't count cos they're a. women b. Scottish or c. some other reason.)

The Forest - Graham Sutherland

I love the art of most of these artists; I definitely respond to their 'Britishness'. And they deserve more international recognition. In some ways I like Dr. Fox's ludicrousness. I like the fact he flies in the face of received opinion. But his loose way with facts is quite shocking for an Oxbridge professor (e.g. on Keith Vaughan: he didn't kill himself out of despair because the conceptual artists had edged him out, as the program strongly intimates; in fact he had cancer and was at the end of a long and successful career.) Still, nice to see some of my favourite painters on the telly.

5 comments:

Jason said...

You just introduced me to Graham Sutherland, THANK YOU! Since I don't have friends with the capacity to enlighten me about art, I depend on people like Lord Dunsany and The Clientele to part the veil into that world. My most recent discovery, which has been giving me strange dreams, is Sidney Sime from Manchester, who did fantastical artwork for Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Machen, H.G. Wells and Lord Dunsany. I get lost in the details of his imagination.

Keith W said...

I haven't seen this programme; I'll need to check it out.

Momentarily you put me off talking about Dr. Fox. Thought it might be the guy from the Pepsi chart.

Acid Fuzz said...

It would be nice if that series would air in the US. British art of that time period seems fairly underrated, especially compared to the more sensationalist stuff from the 90's to now. While in art school + volunteering at an anarchist bookstore I was introduced to Herbert Read who then led me to British artists like Paul Nash, who I love. Hmm...Then again... I don't have a TV.

It would also be nice if the clientele would get together again someday + play in the US. I suppose ots of things would be nice.

Acid Fuzz said...

It would be nice if that series would air in the US. British art of that time period seems fairly underrated, especially compared to the more sensationalist stuff from the 90's to now. While in art school + volunteering at an anarchist bookstore I was introduced to Herbert Read who then led me to British artists like Paul Nash, who I love. Hmm...Then again... I don't have a TV.

It would also be nice if the clientele would get together again someday + play in the US. I suppose ots of things would be nice.

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