Thomas Newbolt: Drama Painting – A Modern Baroque 29 JANUARY – 13 MAY 2016

Thomas Newbolt: Drama Painting – A Modern Baroque

Thomas Newbolt

 

This exhibition comprises fierce, expressionistic works- many of single female sitters on couches-apparently his models arrive at twilight and he paints them when he cannot quite see the exact colours clearly on his tubes of oil. As the introduction to the exhibition at King’s Place, London states, “Opening in conjunction with the Baroque Unwrapped music programme, Piano Nobile presents Thomas Newbolt: Drama Painting – A Modern Baroque. Immense paintings by contemporary artist Thomas Newbolt explore the very essence of painting: the paradoxes of light and dark, psyche and body, figure and ground. Such liminal spaces are where Newbolt finds a vital potency: ‘I’m interested in the emotional area the painting opens up, so when I stand back I feel it’s true’. Layering undiluted oil paint in vigorous impasto, the paintings have a physical depth mirroring their expressive complexity.” Indeed it is the case that these paintings in impastos of pure colour have an impressive presence and dignity.Thomas Newbolt 2

The figures have the sense that they are apprehensively awaiting a tense psychoanalytic session. Their long and elegant dresses have a timeless elegance about them perhaps reminiscent of Christian Schad but painted with an intensity approaching Francis Bacon. The colours are rich and vivid with an accent on vermillion or verdant dark greens against an equally strong background of intense blue or brown. There is an interesting triptych and smaller studies of heads. Dramatic, indeed, so if you are in London to see a play, take the short walk past the Guardian offices in Kings Cross to see these intriguing works.

Further information at :-http://www.piano-nobile.com/exhibitions/36/works

and at :-http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/art-galleries/piano-nobile-kings-place/exhibitions/thomas-newbolt-drama-painting-a-modern-baroque#.Vtn04vmLTIU

Thomas-Newbolt---Figure-IV-,-2015_248w

 

Reviewing “Mr Turner ” by Mike Leigh

In my personal view, some of the most interesting aspects of “Mr Turner” was his constant interest in all types of scientific investigation. The development of new colours in laboratory conditions and his interest in photography were parts of the recent film that I found deeply engaging and in particular the cameo scene with Mrs Sommerville. This Eighteenth Century background has been splendidly covered by Richard Holmes in his “The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science” 2009.(Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science Books). I am reliably informed that Turner read Goethe’s tremendous work on colour theory. How JMW Turner may have eavesdropped on the Royal Academy next door is interestingly discussed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15719338 and his probable interest in the work of William Herschel is considered here.turner46 Flint Castle

Two typical reviews of Mike Leigh’s production can be read at The Guardian -http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/oct/30/mr-turner-review-mike-leigh-timothy-spall

and The Telegraph -http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/10833174/Mr-Turner-review-supremely-enjoyable.html where Robbie Collin makes reference to Spall  as “like a mouthing, phlegmy Gruffalo”.

Here is a review (unedited) from my friend Vaughan Warren whose prolific work, inspired by Turner, appears at Penzance Public Library:-

‘Mr. Turner’, a film by Mike Leigh; a review by ‘Mr. Warren’.20140927_151818

Rated: 10+/10; perhaps?

 

Painting is a ‘rum’ business… of ‘nothingness’ and the like!

 

If one was unfamiliar with the mythology surrounding JMW Turner, or indeed oblivious to whom he was, then the film might appear meaningless and self- indulgent, even despite the fascinating but unlovable depiction by Timothy Spall; yet as a testament to ‘Englishness’ this film is sublime in all its mastery of misery and beauty but some have complained it is too long; it was not long enough! As it turns out I will argue that this film hides a lot more than it reveals at first glance, and its episodic nature has resulted in a rather fragmented view of the man, the painter, the myth?

Like JMW Turner, I was a student of the Royal Academy Schools, which moved from Somerset House to Burlington House, being there myself from 1978-1984, in Piccadilly, London; so I was bound to be rather hyper-critical yet responsive to such a homage to one of our greatest painters. The interactions at the Royal Academy Exhibition, as it was then, were bang on! Poor John Constable was born after Turner and died before Turner’s demise in 1851 and his whole life was overshadowed by this ‘monster’! Turner’s generosity in sharing ‘observations for improvements’  in others work was his gift to teaching; far removed from his disastrous lectures on Perspective at the Academy which were not for want of knowledge but the problem of communicating something so innate!

Travel in Turner’s time appeared idealistic; ferries along the Thames stopping at the new railway stations or venturing even further to the mouth of the Thames and Margate where of course he met Mrs. Booth whom he subsequently ‘bedded’ and lived as a harmonious family life as Turner possibly could have; but the restlessness continued… Turner never married but had two daughters by another woman, one Sarah Danby!

In reality JMW Turner was a short stocky rather shabby man who appeared to lack any social graces especially when it came to women and any concept of family, excepting his father William Turner, Turner’s ‘Daddy’,  whose resulting and inevitable death, was subtly hinted at by the scene of mixing Chrome Yellow oil pigment without protection as was the way in many painters studios, and upon reflection the skin condition of ‘the maid’ was probably a result of ‘Painters disease’, a result of exposure to lead and arsenic ever present in paints even to this day; not within the EU of course but still available in cheap but authentic pigments available from China.

The sumptuous filming caught well the tensions of the period with civilised facades hiding squalor and debauchery behind closed doors. In this respect and most others Timothy Spall was a perfect cast for the role, and Mike Leigh’s directing may have been drawing more upon his own families ‘trauma’. Indeed it is the way the sexual promiscuity of Turner was handled, sometimes with innuendo but at other times with a truly threatening behaviour and scenes of blatant groping. Is it for this reason that many women who have seen the film find Spall and by proxy Turner disgusting and ‘pig like,’ and would not recommend it!p-unframed

To address this Turner’s encounter with ‘Jessica’ at Petworth should have been extended to reveal a more tender and cultured side to his personality. It would have also drawn focus away from Turner as a typically landscape based artist, as his figures at Petworth are abstractions in a mannerist style far in advance of his landscapes which flourished later, and are some of the greatest depictions of figures in interiors we have in English Painting.

It was poor research that suggested that Turner made way for the Pre Raphaelites and photography, however the depiction of John Ruskin, the critic and champion of Turner, was a triumph and the film should have ended with Ruskin burning almost a third of Turner’s erotic figurative output, which we will now never know about. Instead the film ended with the realisation that, “The Sun is God”, and the wry smile of ‘Mrs’ Turner compared with the desolation of Turner’s lifelong companion in the form of his cousin as  maid / relative / sexually abused female! Indeed it was suggested that it was for Turner’s attentions that she appeared to live and endure knowing nothing else presumably, and this made her the victim of the man as ‘monster’?

One last technical point; although Turner was at the cutting edge of pigment use, his use, (even if available commercially before 1851), of Cobalt Blue over his preferred pigment known as Smalt is still a question of conjecture. Although Cobalt Blue was a known pigment used in ceramics it is a question of stability and lightfastness in oils that leads many conservationists and dealers to question the authenticity of alleged works by JMW Turner if elements of this material are found after chemical analysis.

Painting, art, film; is a ‘rum’ business indeed; or was it Sherry?Mr T at RA

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Another friend comments:-

Thank you for sharing the Cannes film festival review of  ‘ Mr Turner’. I’m going to see it on Tuesday so will be able to judge whether all the publicity has been accurate or otherwise. Around the time of his bi-centenary Leo McKern made a valiant attempt to portray the artist in the drama-documentary ‘ The Sun is God’ (supposedly his dying words
as bright sunlight burst through an overcast sky moments before his last breath at precisely 10 am on December 19 1851.) Though typically low budget that production admirably succeeded in conveying both the social conditions and prevailing atmosphere alongside the convincing character study itself. Were Mike Leigh to go one better he will have done well.
This is in reply to the following review from the BFI on Leigh’s success at Cannes:- www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/comment/festivals/cannes-2014-savouring-mr-turner

 

Albin Egger-Lienz -Austrian painter of the Tyrol

In the Leopold Museum in the Museum Quarter of Vienna, I discovered a number of artists about whom I had not previously heard. One of the most interesting was Egger-Lienz.

 

Museum Quarter in Vienna
Museum Quarter in Vienna

 

 

 

 

Albin Egger-Lienz (* 29 January 1868 in Stribach , community Doelsach in Lienz ( East Tyrol ); † November 4 1926 in St. Justina inBolzano ( South Tyrol )) was an Austrian painter .

Self-Portrait
Self-Portrait

The oeuvre of Egger-Lienz includes many oil paintings. Several of his designs and drawings are available in various versions and images. Some subjects, such as the Mountain Mowers, are ​​lithographs.

Egger-Lienz1

1904 Egger-Lienz turned to the theme of the sower, which  kept him busy until the 1920s. The prototype for this was Jean-François Millet (The Sower , 1851), the other  inspiration was actually a work of Giovanni Seganti. 36 major works were exhibited in 1901 at the Secession. Characteristic of Egger-Lienz is also the long time between recognising a source to  its development or use.

Egger-Lienz2

1904/05  in South Tyrol The Pilgrims  originated, whose formal conception parallels to Ferdinand Hodler’s picture The Truth (1903), which was exhibited along with 30 other works belonging to Hodler in the spring of 1904 in the Secession. Although the first drafts of The Pilgrims  showed in the middle a seated Madonna with Child, Egger-Lienz replaced them, under  Hodler;’s influence by the Crucified Christ. By means of this painting Egger-Lienz made ​​a breakthrough to his “monumental-decorative period”

Translated from http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albin_Egger-Lienz and more information may be found at http://www.altertuemliches.at/gemaelde/albin-egger-lienz

Following in this bucolic vein here is a somewhat sad but evocative poem possibly inspired by Hesse’s Swabian countryside.

The Sower
The Sower

Dorfabend by Hermann Hesse

 

Der Schäfer mit den Schafen

Zieht durch die stillen Gassen ein,

Die Häuser wollen schlafen

Und dämmern schon und nicken ein.

 

Ich bin in diesen Mauern

Der einzige fremde Mann zur Stund,

Es trinkt mein Herz mit Trauern

Den Kelch der Sehnsucht bis zum Grund.

 

Wohin der Weg mich führet,

hat überall ein Herd gebrannt;

Nur ich hab nie gespüret,

Was Heimat ist und Vaterland.

 

This has been put to music as at http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=50581

Wir stoppen uns jetzt! Aber heute im Wein

What an amazing place! imageRecovering from the cost of a taxi from the airort I was amazed at the amount of industry-the light colour and the cleanliness of the scene into Vienna. Travelling around the city was veryeasy with U-bahn and strassenbahn and bus. The U-bahn gehen ueber, nichts unter. Most impressive are the massive wooden doors that form the entry to the U-bahn and most other large buildings.
After a brief wander around and past the Natural History Museum, I came across a lovely rising winding street and smaller gasse. imageI discovered what looked like a bohemian student bar -Kafka’s Bar.image The Linselsuppe here was much the best value that I have discovered here on the first day. Then around another few corners opposite the Meerhaus, a lovely cafe-bar opposite in the late afternoon sunshine. Cappucino and crepes with honey and bananas and I felt I had already found my indulgent Vienna. A few steps later the social conditions, the dachtlos, influx of migrants from the East and people sleeping in doorways around the church showed another side of life here.image

Dame Elisabeth Frink Drawings and Prints

Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-93) is best known for her sculpture who trained under Bernard Meadows was influenced by Henry Moore and Giacometti. She was also very keen on the work of Sir Jacob Epstein.E_Frink Her early work was done just after the war and it is clear that this expresses to some extent the horror of war itself. The sculpture is angular and scary; it expresses the fear of a child that has been subjected to aerial bombardment. The bird effigies are also those of which express the rigid terror visited from the sky whether from Luftwaffe attack or from V-Weapons. Small surprise that her work belonged to a group which became widely known as  the Geometry of Fear school – this included Reg Butler, Bernard Meadows, Kenneth Armitage and Eduardo Paolozzi._catalogueimg_lqcn20mxijw3kh453pkckh5528092009214700
Her sculpture is very well known but her prints and drawings are also impressive. There is an endearing 1981 You-Tube clip which shows a rather reticent St John-Stevas conducting an interview with Elisabeth Frink at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXNSsq0cklk and there is another interesting clip on a poster for Antony and Cleopatra at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQIH3FODbRA

The combat scene in the image below illustrates a continuous theme in Frink’s work which deals with classical themes from antiquity. These sometimes reflect her interest shown in her sculptures in the male form. The grey image is actually a wool tapestry weave for furnishing purposes first exhibited in 1961.

Wool tapestry weave
Wool tapestry weave

The colour etching of Antony and Cleopatra was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company for a performance in 1982 at The Other Place. Antony was played by Michael Gambon and Cleopatra by Helen Mirren. The engaging etching was produced in a series of 213 and portrays the interpretation appropriate to the style of these actors.

 

 

 

 

Anthonydownload

F1

Two other interesting websites showing this aspect of her work may be found at http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/elisabeth%20frink and of course at the Tate http://www.tate.org.uk/search/Frink

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Auras and Auroras; The work of Matti Braun

The eye-catching, penetrating splendour of Matti Braun’s lyrical paintings and creations are as unusual asthey are inspiring. Braun was born in 1968, trained at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin and also in Frankfurt, he works in Cologne and has had several major exhibitions in Germany, France and Italy. His work can be seen currently at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol until the 6th Jan 2013. Further details may be found here at http://www.madeingermanyzwei.de/Kuenstler/Matti-Braun This current exhibition consists of an installation constructed from sections through a Douglas Fir tree obtained from Westonbirt Arboretum. These are surrounded by a lake of water creating a placid, contemplative effect. Filling the tank in which they are enclosed, gave the Bristol fire brigade a useful opportunity for them to practise and develop their skills. Further information can be read on http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/exhibitions/details/1409 and photographs of the operation at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-19862898 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-19747232  The work was apparently inspired by a film, later abandoned, by the renowned Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray. It was entitled ‘The Alien’.

Braun’s oeuvre includes photographs, installations, sculptures as well as paintings. Some of the latter were displayed in a large exhibition in Rome in 2011 and can be discerned in a You Tube movie at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTmTE-SHD60 and there is a book by Friedemann Malsch et al available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Matti-Braun-Kola-Friedemann-Malsch/dp/3865605966/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351434791&sr=1-2

In some respects Braun’s compositions are a little reminiscent of the rainbow effects in the colour field paintings of Morris Louis- which the critic Clement Greenberg has termed post-painterly abstraction. There is also the possible influence of Mark Rothko. His paintings in acrylic, silk and cold-rolled steel bring to mind the evocative inks of a Rorschach test. Certainly, they invite the viewer’s personal response or interpretation.

Braun is gifted and prolific. His thought provoking and exciting conceptions will repay further attention in forthcoming years. On a personal basis they remind me of a garden hedge clustered in Mesembryanthemums in full sunlight. Set against a dark background they might suggest the delicate fronds of various luminescent underwater sea coral.

The Elegance of a Bygone Era-Tea Dances

Tea Dances are back in fashion

Popular in the interwar period, if not before, the tea dance must have been a gentle affair that offered an opportunity to relax with friends and with the possibility of meeting new partners. The recreational space around an outdoor bandstand had afforded a similar opportunity in the Edwardian era. This is discussed in  People’s Parks by Hazel Conway and in a review by Susan Hill in the LRB she commented, ” At the same time, forms of design and architecture peculiar to the parks grew up – bandstands, pagodas and winter gardens, floral clocks and tea houses were the popular art of the parks.” There is a website that specialises in images of bandstands at http://www.satiche.org.uk/bandstands/bs-uk.htm

Mabel Frances Layng (English artist, 1881–1937) Tea Dancing circa 1920
Polish pottery made in Boleslawiec with moulds.

The indoor space of the tea dance was more intimate than the park and it is interesting to note that the spectacle apparently evolved from the French colonisation of Morocco, hence the correct term, thé dansant.. Morocco became a protectorate of France in 1912 after the Agadir crisis. In any event the tea dance had reached England by 1880 and appears to have become popular in the suburbs rather than London, in garrison towns and no doubt was popular amongst with the ascendancy of the Raj as well. Tea dances frequently followed upon afternoon summer garden parties. More details are to be found on http://www.teamuse.com/article_010702.html in an article by Jane Pettigrew.

An old postcard from the Morrab Gardens in Penzance

Tea dances must have become more popular in the Jazz era and dances like the Tango and the Charleston would have added extra fun; the invention of the gramophone although records could easily be scratched might have added variety if a dance band was not available or affordable. It also seems that as well as the event itself, tea dance dresses too have once again become popular.

 

There is a very entertaining and informative website at http://bjws.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Teawhich has paintings by the Peruvian artist, Albert Lynch 1851-1912 and the English Artist Mabel Frances Laying, 1881-1937. In addition there are some beautiful teapots and details of eighteenth century coffee houses and the splendid Baltimore Tea Gardens. For some recent interpretations try:-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpwbyggIFuo

Albert Lynch (Peruvian artist, 1851-1912) Young Woman in Straw Hat
Albert Lynch (Peruvian artist, 1851-1912) Young Woman in Green Hat

British Surrealism at Falmouth Art Gallery

Agar, Eileen (1899-1991): Untitled, signed, inscribed 18/75, lithograph, 75.5 x 57 cms. Presented by Tremayne Applied Arts, St Ives.

There has been a renewed interest in works of British Surrealism in recent years. In summing up an exhibition in The Independent on the 26th May 2008 at The Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art- http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/british-surrealists-minor-league-but-major-players-834236.html -Tom Lubbock wrote,” People have said that Britain was Surrealism’s original native land Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, William Blake, the gothic novel, Gulliver’s Travels etc. Perhaps we didn’t need the whole movement-and-manifesto thing. But it produced, slightly by accident, a group of very interesting pictures that ought to have a wider showing, and which the Sherwin Collection is willing to lend.” Clearly symbolism and surrealism have obvious links in mythology and archetypes and such matters were thrown into the generally creative and tempestuous furore which grasped interest in the period between the wars.This climaxed in in the organisation of the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936. There is some evidence of these issues in the paintings displayed in the current exhibition, mostly on loan in Falmouth from the Southampton Gallery. The artists on show include PAUL NASH,CECIL COLLINS, CERI RICHARDS, ROLAND PENROSE, JOHN TUNNARD, EILEEN AGAR &ITHELL COLQHOUN.

Some idea of the range of the Exhibition may be gained from the images to be found at this website, http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/pictures/Photos-British-Surrealists-Falmouth-Art-Gallery/pictures-16910494-detail/pictures.html

However, the most exuberant and baroque piece was a comparatively recent work by David Kemp – entitled “The Hanging Gardens of Basildon”. On his blog, Kemp comments, “It is one of a series of a dozen large plant forms, all influenced by “THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS” an enigmatic painting by the great Hieronymus Bosch, which  explored many  aspects of medieval life, many of which might still be seen as relevant to the human condition, in our modern world?” This comment on the fantastic botanical forms and the connection with Bosch is reminiscent of the work of the VienneseSchool of Fantastic Realism as explified by Arik Brauer whose interest in Bosch he derived from his own tutor, Albert Paris von Gütersloh.

Arik Erich Brauer Die Honigkaeuferin

No visitor can possibly fail to be impressed by the peculiar botanical drawing, named “Prophylactic sea-mouth” by Edith Rimmington. The haunting form appears as some kind of elongated mutation of a dogfish egg-case with a coiling eel like flagellum.

However, for those interested in the development of the work of Paul Nash, his oil painting, “The Archer” will doubtless attract attention both for its muted complementary colours and the charmingly odd bucolic setting. A friend comments in a personal communication, “The Nash is one of his complex compositions worked on for years with bits from all over the place.  There is a letter by Nash about it in Tate Archives. The central ‘archer’ feature was a structure he made from an old toy boat, glass tube, twig, seaweed etc.  I don’t think it exists anymore other than as a photo. It looks more compelling in the photo with strong echoes of surrealist sculptures by Giacometti, Man Ray etc.  He constructed (like Lanyon), collected and photographed sculptural objects from which he derived elements of his paintings.

Paul Nash The Archer

The ‘target’ is from Men-An-Tol of course + mirrors etc; the shadow of the girl bottom right, sampled from De Chirico etc.etc.  All very sexual with the ineffective arrow being merely the shadow of the archer….. I’m not convinced that he managed to get it to cohere as an image.  I wish he had left the landscape dominant as with ‘Landscape at Iden’ http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/nash-landscape-at-iden-n05047 where the symbolic elements infuse the composition naturally.”

Those interested in Roland Penrose’s work can consult http://www.rolandpenrose.co.uk/works.aspx

De Kooning and friends

 

This photograph of de Kooning and his wife, Elaine is engaging in its own right and may be found on a very useful and visually appealing website, at http://artistandstudio.tumblr.com/archive a site which includes self-portraits, painters and their models, their ateliers in pictures and photographs. Looking at this handsome couple prompts further work into abstract impressionism, its history and associated figures. The photograph is particularly engaging and was taken by Ibram Lassaw.

Willem de Kooning(April 24, 1904 – March 19, 1997) was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and journeyed to New York at the age of twenty, he was a stowaway and was very taken by Jazz. He came to prominence when he painted the 105 public murals for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. As the Wikapedia article about him states,” As his work progressed, the heightened colors and elegant lines of the abstractions began to creep into the more figurative works, and the coincidence of figures and abstractions continued well into the 1940s”. At http://www.theartstory.org/artist-de-kooning-elaine.htm it states of the couple,” Elaine and Willem de Kooning endured a long and, at times, very tumultuous marriage. As much as each artist benefited from one another’s paintings and teachings, they mutually suffered due to constant infidelities and struggles with alcoholism.”

Of particular interest is the abstract expressionism developed by de Kooning’s erstwhile colleague, whose fascinating work can be viewed at http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/adolph-gottlieb?before=1338654139 Gottlieb joined de Kooning and others, including Mark Rothko from 1935 to 1940 in a group known as “The Ten” http://www.louisschanker.info/tendisc.htm. Some of Gottlieb’s ouevre is somewhat reminiscent of Paul Klee.

 

Mariner
Man Looking at Woman by Adolph Gottlieb

Gravity
Gravity

 

 

Michael Ayrton, William Walton and John Minton

Sir William Turner Walton by Michael Ayrton

This painting can be found in the National Portrait Gallery in London and shows the celebrated composer, Sir William Walton in 1948 in Capri where he was recovering from jaundice. Its atmosphere suggests recuperation and the date also reminds us that Europe was slowly convalescing from the devastation of war. Walton was to permanently settle the following year on Ischia, a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea some 30 km from Naples, of which it is a province. The painting with its remarkable diagonal composition and repeated dynamic lines is reminiscent of Wyndham Lewis, who was a significant influence on Ayrton and whose portrait he was to paint, a few years later in 1955; this is discussed at this link- http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/ayrton-portrait-of-wyndham-lewis-t07133. It is perhaps interesting to compare Wyndham Lewis’s well-known portrait of Ezra Pound with Ayrton’s Walton. The subject in the latter case looking a good deal more awake and serenely pondering the pleasures of the view and the prospects of reloading his pipe from the tobacco pouch.

In the portrait, Walton almost seems to be couched against the rocky promontory which cascades down to the sea-where the line of the cliff appears submerged rather than reflected by the water surface. The pale tones in grey, purple, reds and blues convey serenity to the composition. The repeated folds and linear motif however add a contrasting energy to the figure that is captured as though by a camera and achieve a monumental charm at what might otherwise not seem a particularly significant moment. The subject has a contemplative gaze which will be prolonged, indeed deepened by the next twist from the “fragrant weed”. The glass, decanter and bill/slip of paper seem to encourage the viewer to share into his own pensive mood.

Ayrton photograph
Ezra Pound 1939 Wyndham Lewis 1882-1957
Lewis was inspired by Lewis

Ayrton’s body of work at the Tate can be viewed as a slideshow at: – http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/michael-ayrton-681

Verlaine and Rimbaud, Sketch by Ayrton

The Oxford Companion to Western Art, says this about English Neo-Romanticism, the movement which both Ayrton and as we shall see Minton both belonged, “Never more than loosely affiliated, its painters took inspiration from the early 19th-century landscapists: from SAMUEL PALMER and his circle at Shoreham, and from TURNER. They were also influenced by French post-CUBIST developments during the 1930s. The beginnings of the movement were dominated by GRAHAM SUTHERLAND and PAUL NASH, and, to an extent, by JOHN PIPER. Their conception of the anthropomorphic potential of natural landscapes and the objects within them had a powerful influence on the younger generation of artists who became popular in the early 1940s, developing a style of agonized and sinister landscape very different from their early exemplars. MICHAEL AYRTONJOHN MINTON, and John Craxton (1922– ) were the most expressive and innovative of the painters involved; others who shared the concerns of the movement for a time included Keith Vaughan (1912–77) and the Scottish artists Robert Colquhoun (1914–62) and Robert MacBryde (1913–66).”

Minton by Michael Ayrton

John Minton (1917- 57) was a talented but troubled teacher,painter and stage designer who trained at St John’s Wood School along with Ayrton who strongly influenced him. This period between 1935 and 1938 was a time when neo-romanticism seems to have flourished, again the Oxford Companion to Western Art writes of him, “British painter, graphic artist, and designer, born at Great Shelford (Cambs.). After studying in London at St John’s Wood School of Art, 1936–8, he spent a year in Paris, where he shared a studio with MICHAEL AYRTON (with whom he later collaborated on designs for John Gielgud’s production of Macbeth at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, in 1942). Among the artists whose work he saw in Paris, he was particularly influenced by the brooding sadness of Eugene Berman (1899–1972) (More information also at http://www.sullivangoss.com/eugene-berman/) and Pavel Tchelitchew (1898–1957). (There is a You–tube, in Italian at http://www.encyclopedia.com/video/aQpp6epASaQ-la-danza-delle-ombre-pavel.aspx) In 1941–3 he served in the Pioneer Corps, and after being released on medical grounds he had a studio in London at 77 Bedford Gardens (the house in which RobertColquhoun (1914–62), Robert MacBryde (1913–66), and Jankel Adler (1895–1949) lived), 1943–6. From 1946 to 1952 he lived with Keith Vaughan (1912–77). Minton was a leading exponent of NEO-ROMANTICISM and an influential figure through his teaching at Camberwell School of Art (1943–7), the Central School of Arts and Crafts (1947–8), and the Royal College of Art (1948–56).

John Minton Self-Portrait

He was extremely energetic, travelling widely and producing a large body of work as a painter (of portraits, landscapes, and figure compositions), book illustrator, and designer. After about 1950, however, his work went increasingly out of fashion. He made an effort to keep up with the times with subjects such as The Death of James Dean (1957; London, Tate), but stylistically he changed little. Minton was renowned for his charm and generosity, but he was also melancholic and troubled by self-doubt. He committed suicide with an overdose of drugs.”

It has recently come to my notice that Lucien Freud also painted John Minton in 1952.http://www.leninimports.com/lucian_freud_gallery_5.html and that Bratby painted at least two portraits, one of which, a watercolour sketch was up for sale at Bonhams in Jan 2011 see http://www.artvalue.com/auctionresult–bratby-john-randall-1928-1992-portrait-of-john-minton-2824129.htm and another was available at this year’s International Art Fair and is shown below.

Minton by John Randall Bratby
Minton by John Randall Bratby

 

  John Minton as painted by Lucien Freud
Modern Stage by Eugene Berman