Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual Post – American Regionalism, Grant Wood

American Regionalism involved a style of realistic painting that started in the 1930s, becoming popular during the Great Depression. The most popular subjects of American Regionalism were rural and everyday situations. This movement was not inspired by a manifesto or particular agenda and was instead inspired by three artists, being Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, and John Steuart Curry who were known as the “Regionalist Triumvirate.” They rejected abstract work, responding to cultural isolation that saw art as out of touch with the American spirit. They felt unsatisfied with American art as they felt it lacked style and a proper audience. Wood wrote a letter home saying “The art dealers and the critics want no part of American art. They think this country is too new for any culture and too crude and undeveloped to produce any artists. You have to be a Frenchman, take a French name, and paint like a Frenchman to gain recognition.”

Book – Formations of Identity: Society, Politics and Landscape, by Martin, Floyd and Yanoviak, Eileen (2016)

Whilst reading this book, I came across some information about Grant Wood which I felt was relevant as he was one of the three main artists who inspired American Regionalism.

Information I got from the book:

‘Grant Wood created a series of agricultural landscapes in the 1930s to portray his romantic vision of man’s relationship with cultivated land. He created paintings and prints to make the farm and the farmer a fantasy. The result of these mythic landscapes is Spring Turning, a representation of green hills painted in 1936. In the painting, the land has been divided into four fields for cultivation. In the lower field, a farmer drives a team of horses pulling a plow as he turns over the earth. He is dwarfed by the hills that surround him. Previous scholars have focused on the sexual nature of the rolling hills in Spring Turning—Wanda Corn, for example, sees the fertile body of a Mother Earth figure, while Tripp Evans sees the erotic contours of a man’s form.

What has not been previously examined, however, is that Spring Turning, and indeed all of Wood’s farm scenes, were responses to specific local and regional conflict: severe economic depression, agricultural catastrophes, political unrest, and anxiety about the farmer’s place in a country in crisis.Wiped clean of dirt and disorder and marked by a stylized geometry, these landscapes are highly constructed objects drawn from the artist’s memory, his attempts at myth-making, and his desire to control a world under threat. Wood’s work as an artist is closely associated with the figure of the mid-western farmer and the land he inhabited. Though the artist was himself a Midwesterner and the son of a farm family, his first subjects were simple Impressionist-style landscapes that rarely included farms.

Over time, Wood began to champion his favoured subjects—farmers and the land—and develop the style and approach to landscapes that communicate the almost mythic values and virtues that he saw in Midwesterners on the land. He was the son of a strict Protestant farmer who discouraged his artistic tendencies. Unlike his repressive father, Wood’s mother encouraged him in his interests, and he began drawing, painting, and designing jewellery in high school. After graduation, he attended design schools in Minneapolis and Chicago, supporting himself in his twenties and thirties as a designer and teacher and painting in his spare time.

Wood came to see his fellow Iowans and their landscape as topics worthy of his artistic attention only after his early experiments in Impressionist-style painting met with disappointment.4 Wood painted in this retardative mode for nearly twenty years in the early twentieth century, but this aspect of his work is little known now.

Although he worked mainly as an Impressionist in the 1920s, he experimented with other styles during this period as well. Wood’s work underwent a more significant change in style in 1928 when he encountered the work of Northern Renaissance artists in Germany. He had accepted a commission to design a stained-glass window for the Cedar Rapids Veterans Memorial. Although he had never worked in the medium before, he took on the project with enthusiasm, even traveling to Munich to oversee the production of the glass. The trip had a profound effect on him. While in Germany, he visited museums, where he found inspiration in portraits by artists such as Hans Memling. Their style and subjects influenced a new direction in his art. Upon his return to Cedar Rapids, he abandoned Impressionism in favour of the hard-edged styles he had experimented with.

‘Woman with Plants’  is a portrait of Wood’s mother in which he adopted Memling’s practice of setting his figures in landscapes painted from a high bird’s-eye perspective, with intricate details in the background. In addition, the work of the Northern Renaissance artists convinced Wood that local imagery—the landscapes and people of his native Iowa—was rich material for his art. This new focus on local subject matter aligned Wood with the movement called Regionalism. In the early 1930s, Regionalism, defined by art historian Matthew Baigell as “art created from local traditions,” was at the height of its popularity.

After the surge of interest from American artists in European art in the early twentieth century and into the 1920s, Regionalism represented a new inward focus in the country during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Rather than being influenced by avant-garde artists from Europe who experimented with innovative styles such as Cubism or Surrealism, Regionalist artists sought to portray the experiences of ordinary people in an easily readable visual style. They looked to the Midwest and the South for subject matter and narratives.

Wood’s 1930 painting American Gothic encapsulates the aesthetic and cultural goals of the Regionalists, and it was the first of Wood’s paintings to receive national attention. The painting depicts an Iowa farmer and a woman who may be his wife or his daughter. American Gothic was then, and is still today, an enigmatic painting: Is it a tongue-in-cheek but affectionate portrait of staid Midwesterners? Is it, perhaps, an indictment of repressive mid-western values? Historian R. Tripp Evans contends that it is the intriguing ambivalence at the heart of the work that holds the key to its appeal.’

In 1930, American Gothic won third prize at a competition at the Art Institute of Chicago. It remains in the collection of that institution today, and it is among the best-known American paintings in the world. After the success of American Gothic, Wood invested many of his character studies with a decided satirical edge.

Information I got from video above:

“American regionalism or American scene painting as it sometimes called is a naturalist style of painting and art that was popular in the first half of the 20th century. The artists of the movement will depict scenes of typical American life and landscape painted in a naturalistic descriptive style. American scene is an umbrella term for the rural American regionalism and the urban and politically oriented social realism. After World War One many United States artists rejected the modern trend stemming from the armoury show in part as a reaction to the war. Oftentimes when we see war we will see far more conservative movements following that war and then things will develop. From there we get to the next war we end up with the same thing a little more conservative and then redevelopment once again and we see the same thing but around World War One as we do around World War Two so instead they adopt an academic realism in depicting urban and rural scenes. Much of the American scene painting conveys a nationalism in romanticism of everyday American life, they’re trying to create something that reflects the American life of everywhere between New York oftentimes and as an anti-modernist style and reaction against the modern European style, this American regionalism was seen as an attempt to define a uniquely American style of art. As soon as we’ve seen the armoury show in precisionism and surrealism and the Americans are starting to get involved in all these movements, all these basically modern movements we see this reaction so we’re pushing back to a more conservative and more realist movement in this case. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just one of these cycles that we see in our history and it doesn’t mean that we can sit there and look at history and go I can predict what’s coming next as that’s foolish . There’s always something that you wouldn’t expect at the time but it does give us a general idea so if you’re looking at a painting you can kind of start to date it based on realism versus abstractions.” – what is said in the video above.

How American Regionalism is inspiring my project:

I was encouraged to research into American Regionalism by my peers during my crit as my work has a great portrayal of real life, you can tell the areas that I have focused on if you have been there before, Leicester is easily identifiable in my work. I found it very interesting to look into this style as I have heard of it before but didn’t know too much information about it. In particular, I find the buildings behind the figures in Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ very similar to some of the architecture I am focusing on in my project, with a sense of realism yet still being abstract.

Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual Post – Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian was an artist who focused on still lifes and landscapes at the start of his artistic journey and later on started to create more abstract work focusing a lot on shape and lines. He also experimented with symbolism, pointillism and cubism. The first world war made Piet reduce his uses of colour and shapes which was the beginning of his nonobjective Neoplastic style. He became one of the founders of a group called De Stijl which involved the simplification and abstraction of architecture and graphic/industrial design. He did an exhibition with this group but withdrew from it when they tried to reintroduce some elements that had been removed prior such as diagonal shapes.

Information I got from video above:

Piet Mondrian was one of the great pioneers of abstract painting. He was a man with two conflicting traits to his temperament that had a great influence on his painting, one was a sense of feeling for rhythm which was reflected in his interest in music and particularly Jazz and this seemed to reflect his positive side of his nature. The other was his love of order and balance. These two conflicting qualities flowed throughout the development of his work but eventually he found resolution in his later abstract paintings.

His father was a qualified drawing teacher and became headmaster of the local Christian School. At the age of 16, he left school to start studying painting and drawing and passed his lower certificate examination in 1889 which allowed him to teach at his father’s primary school. In his free time, he painted landscapes in a rather traditional fashion.

In 1892, Mondrian moved to Amsterdam and entered the Reich’s Academy. He left three years later and earned his living making copies of famous paintings. In 1897, he became a member of Saint Lucas the artists Association for students of the right Academy and for the next few years continued working by painting copies of museum paintings and producing scientific drawings found during this. He started to exhibit his own landscape paintings which were much influenced by The Hague school her group of Dutch artists who took their inspiration from the idealised and naturalistic painting of the French barbies and movement of the 1830s and 1840s, but he had little success selling these paintings.

In 1905, he saw an exhibition of the early work of Vincent van Gogh in Amsterdam which had a profound effect on him, influencing him to choose bold colour and more vibrant brushwork. He was also inspired from an early age in his career by the fascination for trees and seemed to be attracted to the problem of the ways branches, twigs, sky, and foliage interact with each other. He enjoyed the rhythmic structure they represented and how that could be represented on a canvas during this time he exhibited a lot of work but despite developing a reputation for evening landscape paintings he still sold very little. In 1908, he visited homburg where he met several Avant Garde artists including the Dutch artist young tarup. These artists were very interesting divisionism which put simply means the application of colour in small separate blocks like pointillism painting.

In 1911 Piet Mondrian exhibited work in Paris and saw the Cubist paintings of Picasso for the first time. He moved to Paris and almost married his friend Greta but changed his mind at the last minute. Some of his paintings were sent to the Gallery Dash Term in Berlin but sales were very limited. Trees were still an important source of inspiration, but Mondrian’s ideas were developing as he incorporated negative space, making the shapes between the branches become as important as the branches themselves. The shapes and lines used were organised into a structure which is not a tree, but the spirit of a tree and these paintings had neutral titles. By the end of 1913, his subject matter began to move away from the heavy reliance on trees and objects to more spiritual interpretations of the world.

After the chaos of the First World War, Mondrian wanted abstract art influenced in part by Cubism and suprematism and designed to endear to the strict rules of composition. The idea was to strip out all naturalism and all other essentials from the painting to attain the universal truths outlined by this. This saw all representations of reality disappear from his paintings, with his main aim being to express the relationships between colours and shapes rather than objects in his paintings.

In 1919, he painted his first neoplastic composition. When talking about the painting, he said “I have now made a painting that pleases me more than any of my previous work, it has been a long quest”. These paintings colours were inspired by Matisse, especially regarding their placement as some come forward and others recede based upon context. In the 1950s, Mondrian began to experiment with cutting out coloured squares in paper and putting them on his wall. He was seeking to create balance and harmony with colour and line and believed this could be achieved even if there was discord between them. The studio became a huge talking point and in 1925, more people visited his studio and showed an interest in purchasing his paintings. He did his experimental diamond paintings this year too.

In 1929, his abstract paintings were beginning to sell, and his painting was becoming more radical. By 1931, colour was beginning to disappear from his work to be dominated by White Plains and black lines which differed in width. He repeated designs, which became known as his double line paintings which sold quite well within USA. In Germany, the reaction was quite different under Hitler’s regime, his painting was declared degenerate and examples were included in the infamous degenerate art exhibition of 1937 held in Munich. Under Hitler’s cultural policy degenerate art was seen as an insult to the German feeling and included all modernist painting and of course any work by artists of Jewish or Bolshevik origin.

Piet Mondrian loved rhythm as he took an interest in music and also loved balance. These conflicting traits are showed throughout the development of his work but he came to a solution in his most abstract works which demonstrate a rhythm as well as a balance.

In his earlier works, Mondrian focused a lot on realism. I like that he worked on materials such as cardboard as this is easy to find and most likely allowed him to add more texture to his works. This painting looks as though Mondrian used a palette knife as he captured a lot of texture. I like that he captured a scene of everyday life as I feel this relates to my work yet I also feel very inspired by his later, more abstract art which I am incorporating into my own work.

Piet Mondrian’s abstract works moved away from representing objects and instead demonstrated his spiritual views of the world.

This is one of Piet Mondrian’s still life pieces which has an interesting use of bold lines. The composition and colours used work well and the contrast draw the eyes to the image. The elements of texture applied is interesting and I feel this adds to the painting. Mondrian was inspired by Paul Cézanne’s method of breaking down compositions with colour. As Mondrian was loose with the paint, this seemed a lot different to his previous works yet he still used similar colours so it linked in some ways.

This painting was a further abstraction of the painting above and made a lot of the objects rather difficult to identify as they had a lot less detail and were more solid shapes. Again, the use of line is very strong in creating contrasts and the warm colours used work well together yet contrast with the dark lines around the objects. The works during this period of abstraction focused on a central motif (in this work being the ginger pot) and the rest of the paintings surrounding these central motifs having a lot of symmetry. In these paintings Mondrian was trying to maintain balance and order which he continued to do even in his later pieces which were even more abstract.

This painting demonstrated Mondrian’s fascination with Cubist paintings created by Pablo Picasso and George Braque. In the process of creating this painting, he broke down his subject, a tree, into interlocking lines and planes of colour and used colours that were very commonly used in Cubist paintings. However Mondrian made his subject very difficult to identify and made an interesting choice to make the scaffolding fade at the edges of the canvas.

This painting was created at a time when Piet Mondrian was aiming for even more abstraction in his work by moving away from subjects he enjoyed working with including architecture and nature. ‘Composition’ was the last painting Mondrian created where you can see that he was inspired by an actual source, in this case being a church. A strip frame was created for this painting as he didn’t want the depth that came with traditional frames.

Information I got from video above:

‘It can sometimes be hard to appreciate these shuffling colourful squares and these intersecting black lines. Mondrian’s paintings all blend as if each of them were unique yet identical at the same time. This style was only one step in Mondrian’s quite linear artistic progression. He was born in 1872 and will begin painting landscapes just like many other Dutch artists. Then he adopts unconventional techniques, for example, most Dutch landscapes displayed the famous Netherlands Sky in its puffy clouds, but Mondrian put the horizon line extremely high, not leaving much space for any clouds. He then explored many different movements such as impressionism as seen in ‘Willow Grove impression of light and shadows’ made in 1905. He also explores post impressionism as seen an ‘evening red tree’ completed in 1910 in which we can clearly see the influence coming from Van Gogh. He had a service space which will preface the importance of primary colours in his later work but in 1911 an art movement will heavily influence him; he discovers through Picasso and black Cubism and will move to Paris to further his career. In 1911 he paints a first version of still life with ginger pot and then the following year reinterprets the painting in a cubist style. The intersecting black lines first made their appearance only almost starting to move away from representation which we can see by comparing his older tree paintings with ‘the great tree’ painted in 1911. Only one year later he will again make one step closer to abstraction with another representation of a tree ‘flowering Apple tree’.

He will continue to make abstract paintings in Paris until 1914 when during a visit in the Netherlands, World War One begins not allowing Mondrian to go back to France. Mondrian defines neoplasticism, he will write as a pure representation of the human mind or it will express itself in an aesthetically purified way abstract form the new plastic idea cannot therefore take the form of a natural or concrete representation. The new plastic idea will ignore the particulars of appearance that is natural form in colour. On the contrary it should find its expression in the abstraction of form and colour in the straight line and the clearly defined primary colours. This will be the birth of the Mondrian we know of today with the colours in the geometry. But it’s only the 1920s that Mondrian will start painting the iconic compositions which will also evolve with time. The first compositions usually had more colours and shapes and sometimes the black lines wouldn’t even reach the edge of the canvas. With time though, Mondrian purified his work, stripping away more and more elements. His compositions started to include less colours but sometimes more lines making his work seem more minimalistic or simplified. Finally in 1938, with the rise of fascism in Europe Mondrian moves to London and in 1940 decides to move to New York City. This will be the last step in modern artistic evolution even though he’s 68 when he moves to New York he is captivated by the energy this city has the busy streets the booming culture and especially in jazz. Music will animate him, the black lines in his compositions will be replaced by colourful lines overlapping each other. The last painting Mondrian completes is called ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie’, a representation of the grid like streets of New York; the lines are vivid and unlike any other Mondrian paintings. They are continuously interrupted by colour, the lines are not continuous anymore, they are extremely busy almost as if they had a certain rhythm to them. Mondrian wanted to create universal art that through his harmony and simplicity could appeal to any individual no matter their background. By simplifying what he painted, Mondrian broke down his subjects to their core of lines, shapes and colours and arranged them to create balance. You may admire Mondrian’s work or maybe you don’t see what’s so interesting about his horizontal and vertical lines but what’s less debatable is how fascinating Mondrian’s quest for purification is. You may not like his individual artworks, but Mondrian’s work is interesting to analyse as it’s the work of a lifetime from the post-impressionist tree to the cubist branches all the way to the streets of New York. Multi artistic progress is a work of art.’

How Piet Mondrian’s work is inspiring me in my project:

I decided to research Piet Mondrian as my work includes a lot of solid colours and dark outlines, it is very graphic which relates to his work. I feel that I could create pieces which are very simplistic in shapes and colour palettes but I don’t want to use fully opaque colours as I still want a sense of realism in my work. I like the contrasts that Piet Mondrian manages to capture in his work, both the more detailed pieces and the more simplistic square pieces and I am hoping to incorporate some of his colour palettes into my work as they work well and could help me incorporate some successful colour palettes into my compositions. Although I like the black outlines, I don’t want to use a black outline in all of my pieces as I feel it will be too distracting from the architecture so i will choose colours which are more subtle if I incorporate any harsh lines but I love the ways the different elements of Piet Mondrian’s paintings flow together.

Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual Post – Pop Art

As my work is quite illustrative and cartoonish I was advised to do some research into Pop Art to give some reasonings behind that which make it more appropriate.

Pop art started in the mid-1950s in Britain and late 1950s in America, reaching its peak in the 1960s. It started as a revolt against the most popular approaches to art/culture and traditional views on what art should be. Artists believed that the stuff they were learning at schools and in museums has no relevance to their everyday lives. They found inspiration from sources such as movies, advertisements, packaging, music, and books.
Critics were horrified with artists using such ‘low’ subject matter and their uncritical treatment of it. Pop Art both took art into new areas of subject matter and developed new ways of presenting it in art and be one of the first manifestations of postmodernism.

Differences between British and American Pop Art:
– British Pop artists were inspired by American Culture from a distance while American Pop artists were inspired by their personal experiences with the Culture.

-American Pop Art was very representational and used hard edges/distinct forms after Abstract Expressionism. They wanted to move away from personal feelings/symbolism that came with Abstract Expressionism and instead used impersonal/mundane imagery in their work.

-British Pop Art was more academic in its approach to Pop Art. Using a lot of irony/parody, it focused on the ways that American imagery was used for manipulation and what the imagery represented. The 1950s Group ‘The Independent Group (IG)’ is seen as the precursor of British Pop Art.

The Independent Group (IG):

The Independent Group (IG) was a group of young artists, writers and critics who met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London to challenge the dominant modernist culture at that time, to make it more inclusive of popular culture. It was created in the 1950s. It was responsible for the formulation, discussion, and dissemination of many of the basic ideas of British pop art and of much other new British art in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1953 the Independent Group did an exhibition called ‘Parallel of Art and Life’ and in 1956 another exhibition called ‘This is Tomorrow.’ This exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London was the group demonstrating their interest in popular and commercial culture. The critic Lawrence Alloway said ‘movies, science fiction, advertising, pop music. We felt none of the dislike of commercial culture standard among most intellectuals, but accepted it as fact, discussed it in detail, and consumed it enthusiastically’. ‘This is Tomorrow’ involved a series of environments and a juke box played continuously.

Information I got from video above – ‘Pop Art is one of the most significant art movements of the 20th century. In London in 1952, a group of young avantgarde artists, writers and architects including Scottish artists Eduardo Paolozzi formed the independent group. This group wanted to challenge the art world and was interested in the relationship between popular culture and the visual arts. Paolozzi led the charge giving an important presentation in which he showed advertising, comic strips, and assorted graphic images from American magazines. Inspired by these images, the group wanted to create art that was inclusive, and which had mass appeal. Many members of the group had already begun to create collages using some of these images. The art created often combined different themes such as war and popular advertisements like coca cola which led to a range of different works being created. Some were  inspired by comic books and cartoons with works in the 1960s including screen prints of Mickey Mouse and Popeye. Andy Warhol’s name became synonymous with pop art. In the early 1960s, Warhol embarked on a series of portraits of stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and Jackie Kennedy using photographic cell screen printing to create celebrity portraits enabling him to reproduce recognisable images or radio in public like publicity shots or tabloid photographs. He often repeated the image multiple times as both celebration and critique of contemporary culture.  Temporary artists influenced by Pop Art and sometimes referred to as new pop include Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst who often celebrated banality using mechanical processes is to create their work and repetition within it but the legacy of Pop Art and its themes of repetition, daily objects, and mass media lives on beyond dark with endless offshoots and commercial designs appearing in contemporary society. This the greatest sign of their success that they took from popular culture to create that and know that the art they created has been reclaimed by popular culture once more.’

Information I got from video above: ‘In the 1950s, artists started making art inspired by Hollywood movies, advertising, pop music and comic books. There are two types of public pop art, one made in America about America and Pop Art made in Britain about America. Pop artists in America made art about what it was like to live the American dream. Andy Warhol began his career in advertising before realising that he could screen print pictures of soup cans and other products onto canvases and sell them in the same way advertisers sell real supercars. He wore a silver wig at the Linda silver factory in New York and hung out with creative kids like Gerard Malanga, Nico, Lou Reed and Edie Sedgwick who also had silver hair. He said in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, he liked family, he liked money and he made art about both. Roy Lichtenstein painted the world as a comic strip, a painting called ‘quiet’ imitated the industrial techniques of mass production in the same way as mechanical reproduction had imitated the techniques of artists. This is known as parody. Oldenburg blew up everyday objects to monumental proportions to question what constitutes an iconic image in a modern society which embraces disposable mass-produced items. After the Second World War Great Britain looked drab, clearly having lasting effects from all that happened. However, America looked very cheerful after the Second World War. Artists in Britain began making art by using Americas vibrant and aspirational conduit culture which was witty yet ironic. A collage by Richard Hamilton confronts the mass advertising coming to Britain from America. Peter Blake painted pinup girls and wrestlers wearing American jeans and holding a magazine all about Elvis Presley to show the influence American culture is having on Britain. Not everyone liked Pop Art, the art historian Greenberg said it was superficial. Andy Warhol agreed and responded by saying he was a deeply superficial person. In fact, he would find new subject matter in mass production and  developed new ways of presenting it like comic strips and screen prints. Andy Warhol explained that once you got Pop Art, you could never see a site in the same way again and you could never see America the same way again.’

Ways Pop Art is influencing my work:

I am more so influenced by the graphic styles and uses of colour in Pop Art rather than the subject matter or comic styles that often came along with it. I feel that using colour schemes that certain pop artists have used in their work could help me to develop my work even further, generating more ideas which could allow me to get a better final result or colour scheme.

Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual Post – George Shaw

George Shaw is an artist who paints realistic rural scenes in England. The combinations of architecture, graffiti and litter give his paintings a very relatable feel, with a lot of people knowing what it is like to live in those sorts of areas. A lot of his paintings have a very creepy and dark vibe, which is his intention as he likes taking cliches of the sublime and epiphany and putting them into unexpected places. His work has been viewed as very sentimental, which Shaw doesn’t want to take as a negative quality as he looks for the things he likes or doesn’t like about people in art. He was nominated for the Turner prize in 2011 and his works are shown in several London based areas.

George Shaw’s paintings capture a British feeling, demonstrating the ways that we impact upon the world around us as well as the ways that the world shapes us.

People see George Shaw’s paintings as depicting a foreshadowing of Britain during lockdown as they never include people and portray quite eerie atmospheres. I feel that I could do something similar in my own work to demonstrate how lockdown has affected Leicester and the ways that people see their homes as prisons but this is something I will have to explore in my own time.

I find it fascinating that George Shaw takes everyday common landscapes and areas that we are all used to yet captures them in a hopeless way that makes you realise how the world around us can be daunting yet beautiful at the same time. The realism in the work makes the paintings look like photographs initially which is really impressive.

In this Youtube video, George Shaw talks about his work and how it has changed over the years, starting off as a way of capturing the sentimentality of his adolescence but more recently becoming the opposite of that, a confrontation of things rather than a relaxation into a comfortable situation. This development happened as he wanted to capture places without any signs or indications as to where they were located in a bid to essentially remove the history of the place and allow people to see it for what it is rather than what it has been in the past. This also demonstrates the fact that we go to places in our lifetimes and often have no awareness of the events that have happened there which I find really interesting.

Although George Shaw’s work evokes a bleak feeling in his audience, he personally doesn’t see it that way since he is simply acknowledging the end of something and it doesn’t necessarily have a negative implication/effect. During his time at the Royal College, he realised that he didn’t like that you had to understand a particular language to understand what his previous art was about and instead learned about making art that communicates a certain idea to people that you can have a conversation about to discuss personal opinions.

His work is a way of showing that life is short and you’re not here forever, the places around us that are run down and decaying in certain ways are a representation of himself in a way, and the viewer in others, all based upon personal circumstances. The paintings portray his journey out of this world.

Information I got from video above:

I came to look at the exhibition complete and thought it was quite sad that it would be taken down, I think I’m just beginning to like it, it’s just beginning to settle down in my mind so that’s normally how I experience life, but I just get into the party 10 minutes before closing time and then I’m faced with regret that I didn’t get on with it a little bit earlier. When it gets taken down on Monday, they get put in a box and then it goes on tour little bit like Bob Stewart, the work goes in the box and then reappears in the Lake District or Southampton or wherever without me. I mean I could drop dead tomorrow, and it would still go on without me. It goes way back into the 70s when I was a kid coming down from Coventry so it’s going to be quite interested in the next couple of years or so because that context of the National Gallery will fall away as I travel to places I’ve come to understand as the regions, but I just call it the rest of England that is not in London. George Shaw is a painter; he was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2011 with a series of very detailed meticulous images of the council estate on which he was brought up in Coventry showing crumbling pavements and decrepit locked up garages and broken lamp posts and things very much to do with an environment that is manmade, but you don’t see any human figures. They’ve always got this kind of resonance of either things that have happened there or things that are going to happen there, they are narrative landscapes but painted in a very contemporary mode I think that subject of Englishness has been quite deep rooted in my work for many years but it’s not the Englishness of stately homes. I feel that most English people live in taking up on board I think what happened was me thinking about my time as a child and as an adolescent and the kind of world I lived in and then the kind of world at the National Gallery was showing to me. I wanted to bring the two worlds together, really kind of English realism with a very mythical magical narrative, the narratives of Ovid or the narratives of the Christian story’s and bring them altogether in a way in which they came together in my imagination in my head. The one place that marriage did take place was in the Woodland setting for how that I grew up which was a few square miles of Woodland on the edge of accounts of the study but I began to see similarities between that that simple Woodland and the Woodland of Pelini or the woodlanders Pusan or the Woodland of Titan even The Woodlands of constable may seem to be where people last themselves and found themselves where rituals of life are acted out very far away from the home, far away from civilisation, not too far that you couldn’t feel its effects and that’s what I began to explore.

How George Shaw’s work is influencing my project:

I decided to research George Shaw as he captures council estate scenes very well. Although his work is very realistic, I find that there are similarities in some of the housing/architecture where he grew up as there is in Leicester. There are a lot of council estates in Leicester that are similar which I find interesting. The vast amount of detail that George Shaw captures in his work demonstrates a high amount of skill but I am not a realistic artist. However, I like to incorporate a sense of realism into my work with which Shaw’s work could factor into. I am pulled in by the fact that you can tell what time of the day it is in Shaw’s paintings which again demonstrates a lot of skill, he definitely knows what he’s doing.

Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual Post – Architecture in Leicester

As I am focusing my project on architecture in Leicester, I felt that it would be appropriate to do some research in the history of Leicester and see why certain decisions were made and have continued to be made through the production of modern architectural elements in the city. I have looked at a range of websites and books to ensure that my research is correct. I found it interesting to learn more about Leicester even though I’ve lived here my whole life as it opens to my eyes to what people went through in the past.

History of Leicester:

“Leicester is an ancient Iron Age settlement that was held as a high status tribal centre near the east bank of the River Soar just over 2,000 years ago. It quickly turned into a significant capital city at the time of the Roman Conquest of Britain around AD43. Through the centuries the city’s population grew, exploding with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s.

Much of the Leicester was re-built and old buildings swept away for new terraced houses built to accommodate the workers, which gave rise to a strong community spirit in many areas of the city.

After World War II more new communities came to Leicester, from Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and the Indian sub-continent. Today Leicester is one of the most diverse cities to live in and is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK in terms of population.”

Industrial history of Leicester:

From the early 19th century to the end of the 20th century, Leicester had a big industrial sector being engineering, hosiery (in many forms) and footwear. A lot (or most) of the companies from then have since gone out of business and been taken over by other brands.

Although industry hasn’t left Leicester completely, it isn’t what it used to be. This has left a lot of buildings which have industrial history, with some needing to be repurposed for things such as restaurants, offices, bars and flats.

The Victorian era involved constructing new buildings as well as pulling old ones down. This is the reason that there isn’t much if any industrial history of Leicester that goes before the 19th century. There were only a couple of buildings which were refurbished but a majority of the others were repurposed into offices and residential units. Some have even been made into artist galleries and studios. Larger buildings were turned into temples, gurdwaras, mosques and madrassas as the culture and diversity in Leicester grew.

A lot of the factories were based in the city centre in the past. After World war 2, companies started to move into more industrial areas outside of the city centre. The former Imperial Typewriters building on East Park Road is a good example of an industrial building that is still used for making things. Nowadays the building is split into smaller industrial units.

As there were so many different industries in Leicester, there was work for both men and women which increased its popularity. There was a lot of information about poor working conditions that people faced. The introduction of paid holidays, pensions and shorter working days led to a better work life. The factories being in operation meant that there was a lot of sound and smell, pollution increased and sirens were rang to announce the start/end of shifts.

From the mid-19th century, housing was built to accommodate the workers from outside the city and communities of people who lived in terraced housing near places of work formed. These communities were self-contained and comprised houses, schools, shops, religious buildings, factories and parks.Though work offered people the chance to earn money, it also allowed them to build a social life through social clubs and events.

Today, there are still a small amount of hosiery companies in Leicester but certainly not as much as there used to be. Factories are based in areas outside of the city centre and a lot of old factories are serving new purposes.

Examples of popular buildings in Leicester:

The architecture in Leicester has a variety of styles and is very diverse. The city grew in popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901 which is why there is a lot of Victorian architecture in the city. A lot of the buildings original purposes have since changed and are used for different things as the city and people living here have developed.

Some well known buildings in Leicester:

This building was made in 1894 after the death of Thomas Cook. It was intended to be an office building and was built in the Victorian style.

This building was designed in 1877 by Edward Burgess. It was originally the Wyggeston Girls school, later becoming a part of Charles Keene College and now is the Headquarters of the Age of Concern of Leicester. This Victorian style building has a lot of historical importance and is under the protection of the local government.

This is another building which has a lot of historical importance and is protected by the local government. The Secular Hall was designed in 1881 by W. Larner Sugden for residence of one of the oldest societies in the UK which was founded in 1851.

This hotel was built from 1897 to 1898 by Amos Hall and Cecil Ogden. At the time this had a reputation as one of the most stylish hotels in Leicester. In recent years it has lost its uniqueness but is still considered a good hotel.

Joseph Goddard designed this Venetian Gothic style building which was built in 1874. A lot of detail was added to the facade including stained glass windows and small statues. The building is known for having a lot of detail on the inside.

Leicester Town Hall is located in the City centre of Leicester which contains an impressive fountain. The town hall was built on the former cattle market between 1874 and 1876 in the Queen Anne Style by Francis Hames.

The City Rooms is a Georgian building constructed in 1800. It would have become Leicester’s first hotel but was not completed and the building was sold in 1799 with £3,300 still needed to complete it, and opened as the Leicester Assembly Rooms in 1800. In 1817 it was adapted to become the Judges Lodgings when it passed into the hands of the County Justices, then becoming known as the County Rooms. When it passed into the ownership of Leicester City Council it was renamed again, to The City Rooms. The building has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.

HM Prison Leicester was designed by William Parsons to resemble a castle. The oldest part dates from 1825, and it was opened in 1828. The gatehouse including the adjoining building to north and south and the perimeter wall are grade II listed. In 2001 Leicester hit headlines as a “failing prison” and David Ramsbotham, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, declared that it should be shut down.

The Church Building Act of 1818 provided funds for two new Leicester parishes, one of which was Holy Trinity. The church was built in 1838 in accordance with classical design as the city expanded, and formed part of a new suburb. In 1872, Holy Trinity was completely redesigned in a High Gothic style, with spire and side turrets in red-purple brick with limestone decoration. . A significant building project was undertaken in the late 1980s, and there is now a single balcony at the rear of the church.

Journal about history of migration in Leicester and how this affected architecture

I found this journal in the library which went into detail about how migration in Leicester’s history has affected its architecture and the ways it is viewed by others in society. I found this read very interesting as it is something I haven’t thought much about before and it allowed me to get a better understanding of the place I live.

“The current multicultural nature of the town is one of the elements that have gradually contributed to redefining its urban landscape, enriching the lexicon of shapes forms and signs of a built environment traditionally associated with its industries and manufacturing plants. Two main events have been crucial for the development of this process: the first one was the arrival, in the 50s of the Caribbean population from Antigua and Jamaica. the second was the migratory phenomenon of the late 1960s and early 70s which involved Asian families fleeing from Kenya Uganda and Malawi. in the following years diversity and openness progressively became a distinctive sign of the city image often defined as one of the capitals of Asia and Britain by local stakeholders.”

Images in the journal

I found it interesting to see the ways that there were clear differences between the architecture of each picture, even if they were quite subtle. The different businesses and restaurants demonstrate how there is a lot of different ethnicities in Leicester which will impact upon the different types of architecture needed.

Maps of Leicester

These statistics made it clear as to why there are a range of different religious buildings in Leicester, a lot of different needs had to be met to ensure everyone was happy.

As I read more about migration and the history of Leicester, it made sense as to why certain areas of Leicester such as Narborough Road and Belgrave Gate are filled with people of similar religions and ethnicities. The different amounts of churches and mosques are all impacted by the amount of people with those religions living near them. These areas also had a lot of specific shops and restaurants suited to their religion or lifestyle including Sari shops and jewellers which made Leicester well known for it’s inclusivity and Belgrave Gate was named ‘the Golden Mile.’

“The consequence of this process of adaptation is evident in the coloured building facades in shop signs and in the architectural elements used to redefine their language of old houses or former industrial buildings.” This shows the impact of these communities making changes yet it allowed those buildings to have a better purpose.

Diwali became the biggest celebration outside of India in Leicester with people coming to last door purely for the two week celebrations. All these elements all the reasons why Leicester has been branded as a multicultural city. Although a lot of the buildings have changed, they have still retained some of their original characteristics.

Narborough road is another place which has a diverse amount of cultures which is “evident in the shop signs, bright and vivacious and often in contrast to one another which generates a peculiar landscape at the street levels in which brands and logos are proportion to the dimension of the retail unit. the same diversity of language is present outside can be found in the different informal arrangement of the interior and the outside area characterised by household products foods and second hand items often displayed in the internal part of the sidewalk.”          

“The highest representation of countries of birth amongst the landlords includes the UK, India, and Turkey, although European, African and Middle Eastern countries are also present. As in the other parts of the city, long-established retailers are the migrants from Uganda, Malawi and Kenya who fled from the “Africanisation” policies of eastern African countries.”

Why I decided to research the architectural history of Leicester:

Although I researched the general history of architectural styles and how it has changed, as my project is focused on Leicester I felt that the architectural history of Leicester was important for me to understand. Although I have grown up in Leicester, and my grandparents did, I have heard lots of stories about it from their experiences which has allowed me to envision what it was like. Seeing how Leicester has developed is very interesting as it explains the reasons for the building of certain historical buildings which have been in Leicester longer than I’ve been alive. I also find it interesting to see how the fact Leicester was an industrial city in the past led to the construction of housing and flats for factory workers. Without the history and how things have changed, Leicester wouldn’t look like it does today. I also felt it was relevant to look into the cultural side of Leicester and how that rapidly developed over the years. Without all this history, my project would look very different than it does now and I love seeing how things have changed and finding the reasons for these changes in the first place.

Painting Studio Practice Term 2

Painting Term 2 Plan – Leicester based project

After my tutorial with Carina, I decided that I wanted to continue on with my exploration of architecture but from a local viewpoint rather than Cornwall. I feel that this is more appropriate to my circumstances right now and as I have lived in Leicester my whole life, I have good knowledge of the different areas.

I filled out the Initial Work Plan with all of my intentions and had a good range of ideas for starting research and for producing work.

The areas of research I have started to do include architectural styles, architecture in Leicester and architecture in horror films as well as contextual research into artists including L.S Lowry, Richard Diebenkorn and Sydney Nolan. I feel that this research will provide me with a good backbone to my project and will inspire me in different ways.

I am looking forward to seeing how I develop my work in this project.

Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual Post – Architectural Styles

As I have decided to do an architectural project, I felt it would be appropriate to research the different styles of architecture throughout history which will give me an awareness of the reasons there are different types of architecture in different places. I am also planning on doing a contextual post of architecture in Leicester which will explain certain architectural factors and the reasons they are there.

There are several types of architecture styles which have different purposes and functions. In many cities, there are often combinations of modern architecture and historical architecture which I find captivating as it demonstrates how the world has changed which is pivotal, history has a lot of importance and showing how we’ve moved on is very interesting in my opinion.

‘Architectural styles – a visual guide’ by Owen Hopkins. Published in 2014.

‘Architectural style’ is largely a creation of the 19th century. ‘Style’ is associated with Heinrich Wölfflin a Swiss architectural historian. he established 5 pairs of opposing concepts linear/painterly, plane/recession, closed form/open form, multiplicity/unity, and absolute clarity/relative clarity. His theory overlooked content in favour of form while ignoring the social economic or material factors that determine the creation of a building or piece of art. style is considered in a broad sense and is used to group and analyse buildings according to particular traits to highlight cultural trends or particular traits, to highlight cultural trends or particular architectural strategies that buy together works that superficially might seem unrelated. Architects often change styles throughout their careers depending upon clients.

Some architectural styles:

  1. Classical – Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman
  2. Early Christian – Byzantine And Romanesque
  3. Gothic and Medieval – Early Gothic, High Gothic, Late Gothic, Venetian Gothic, Secular Gothic and Castle
  4. Renaissance and Mannerism – Early Renaissance, High Renaissance, Northern Renaissance and Mannerism
  5. Baroque and Rococo – Italian Baroque, German and Eastern European Baroque, Spanish and Latin American Baroque, French Baroque, English Baroque and Rococo
  6. Neoclassicism – Palladianism, Classical Revival, Greek Revival, Empire Style, Picturesque and Sublime
  7. Eclecticism – Gothic Revival, Orientalism, Beaux-Arts, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau and Art Deco
  8. Modernism – Chicago School, Expressionism, New Objectivity, International Style, Functionalism, Constructivism, Totalitarian Reactions, Essentialism, Brutalism, Metabolism and High Tech
  9. After Modernism – Realism, Postmodernism, Deconstructivism, Echo Architecture, Expressive Rationalism and Contextualism

1) Classical architecture is the style of buildings created by the Ancient Greeks and Romans.

Ancient Greek:

Ancient Greek Architecture – Parthenon

Region – Greece and Mediterranean colonies.

Period – Seventh Century to First Century BCE.

Ancient Roman:

Ancient Roman Architecture – Hera II, Paestum

Region – Europe (Italy, the Mediterranean – North Africa, Asia Minor and the Middle East.)

Period – First Century BCE to Fourth Century CE

2) Early Christian architecture is the buildings that were created by Christians or under Christian patronage from the earliest period of Christianity.


Byzantine Architecture – Constantinople

Region – Eastern Mediterranean

Period – Fourth to fifteenth century


Romanesque Architecture – Abbey-of-Maria-Laach,-Glees,-Germany

Region – Europe

Period – Mid eleventh to mid twelfth century

3) Gothic and Medieval architecture evolved from Romanesque architecture and was most popular during the high and late medieval period.

Early Gothic:

Early Gothic Architecture – Laon Cathedral

Region – France and England

Period – twelfth to mid thirteenth century

High Gothic:

Region – Europe, particularly England and France

Period – 13th to mid 14th century

Late Gothic:

Region – Europe, particularly England, Germany and Spain

Period – Mid 14th to 15th century

Venetian Gothic:

Region – Venice, Italy

Period – 12th to 15th century

Secular Gothic:

Region – Northern regions of Europe

Period – 12th to 15th century


Region – Europe

Period – 12th to 15th century

4) Renaissance and Mannerism. Renaissance architecture was created between the early 15th and early 17th century showing a development of early ancient Greek and Roman architecture. Mannerist architecture involved architects experimenting with forms found in Renaissance architecture to emphasise solid and spatial relationships.

Website where I found information for Renaissance

Website I found information for Mannerism

Early Renaissance:

Region – Italy, particularly Florence

Period – 15th century

High Renaissance:

Region – Italy

Period – 16th century

Northern Renaissance:

Region – England, Europe, France, Germany and the Netherlands

Period – 16th century


Region – Italy and Spain

Period – Mid to late 16th century

5) Baroque and Rococo. Baroque architecture has a highly decorative style and appeared in Italy in the 17th century. It celebrated the wealth of the Catholic church, being linked to the Counter-Reformation. Rococo architecture was more graceful yet more elaborate than Baroque architecture as Baroque architecture was very focused on religion while Rococo was more light hearted. . Rococo architecture focused more on privacy than publicity.

Italian Baroque:

Region – Italy

Period – 17th and 18th century

German and Eastern European Baroque:

Region – Germany and Eastern Europe

Period – 17th and 18th century

Spanish and Latin American Baroque:

Region – Spain and Latin America

Period – 17th and 18th century

French Baroque:

Region – France

Period – 17th to early 18th century

English Baroque:

Region – England

Period – Mid 17th to early 18th century


Region – Europe, particularly France, Germany and Russia

Period – 18th century

6) Neoclassism. Neoclassical architecture was a revival of classical architecture in the early 18th and 19th centuries.


Region – England and America

Period – 18th century

Classical Revival:

Region – Europe and America

Period – Mid 18th to mid 19th century

Greek Revival:

Region – Europe, particularly England and Germany

Period – Mid 18th to mid 19th century

Empire Style:,style%20of%20the%20eighteenth%20century.

Region – France

Period – Late 18th to mid 19th century


Region – Europe, particularly England and France

Period – Late 18th to early 19th century


Region – Europe, particularly England and France

Period – Late 18th to mid 19th century

7) Eclecticism – an architectural style which incorporates diffeent elements of previous architecture styles to create something new.,that%20is%20new%20and%20original.

Gothic Revival:,the%20late%201740s%20in%20England.&text=Gothic%20Revival%20draws%20features%20from,hood%20moulds%20and%20label%20stops.

Region – Europe

Period – 19th century


Region – Europe and USA

Period – Mid 18th to early 20th century


Region – France and USA

Period – Mid 19th to early 20th century

Arts and Crafts:–what-s-it-all-about.aspx#:~:text=The%20architectural%20style%20which%20developed,using%20local%20materials%20and%20traditions.

Region – England and USA

Period – Mid 19th to early 20th century

Art Nouveau:

Region – Europe, particularly Brussels, Paris and Venice

Period – Late 18th to early 19th century

Art Deco:

Region – Europe and USA

Period – 1920s and 1930s

8) Modernism is an architectural style based on new construction methods involving the uses of certain materials including reinforced concrete, glass and steel with a sense of minimalism and making form more important than function.

Website where I found information

Chicago School:

Region – USA

Period – 1880s to 1900s


Region – Germany and the Netherlands

Period – 1910s to mid 1920s

New Objectivity:,Neues%20Bauen%20(New%20Building).

Region – Germany

Period – Mid 1920s to mid 1930s

International Style:

Region – Initially Europe, later worldwide

Period – 1930s to 1950s


Region – Europe, particularly Germany and Scandinavia

Period – 1930s to 1960s


Region – Soviet Union

Period – 1920s to early 1930s

Totalitarian Reactions:

Region – Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Stalinist Soviet Union

Period – 1930s Germany and Italy to 1950s Soviet Union


Region – USA

Period – 1910s to 1970s


Region – Britain

Period – 1950s to 1960s


Region – Japan

Period – 1950s to 1970s

High Tech:

Region – International

Period – 1970s to 1980s

9) After Modernism


Region – International

Period – 1960s to now


Region – International, particularly Britain and USA

Period – 1970s to early 1990s


Region – International

Period – 1980s to early 1990s


Region – International

Period – 1970s to now

Expressive Rationalism:

Region – International

Period – 1990s to now


Region – International, particularly Europe

Period – 1960s to present

Why I felt I should research different architectural styles:

I decided to research into the different architectural styles throughout history as I felt that it would do me good to see how architecture has evolved as new uses for buildings arose. I felt that seeing the ways things have changed and the reasons for it such as providing housing for a lot of people, giving people efficient places to pray, schooling. Demands for things are constantly changing, with needs/wants for different amounts of decorative architectural elements. I feel like it is also eye opening to see how different things used to be in the past as without those things having happened, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Also as my project is focused on architecture, this seemed like a good foundation to get going. Identifying different architectural styles of windows and roofs was important also as it allows me to identify different elements which could be used to develop my project further somehow, possibly by being able to label drawings, adding annotations for a different effect.

Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual post – Richard Diebenkorn

Richard Diebenkorn is an artist who is known as “one of the finest abstract painters” in America. He has done abstract work as well as figuration, making him a versatile artist not tied down by one thing. His work focused a lot on places he worked and lived using balanced compositions and beautiful colour palettes.

I have decided to research Richard Diebenkorn as I find his different angles and perceptions very unique, as well as the way he makes flat paintings come out of the canvas and pull the viewer in. I also like the limited colour palettes as it is realistic yet achieved in a way that shows everything isn’t a solid colour, there are often a lot of colours that build up things such as the sea and the sky which is something I would like to explore in my own work using washes of colours and layers.

‘Cityscape #1’ – Richard Diebenkorn (1963)

This is an oil painting on canvas by Diebenkorn which features a view of a rural area which is quite flat but the colours and shapes used work well to pull in the viewer. I like that this painting is quite simple yet it is still easy it identify what the painting is of. I especially like the way that other colours show through in sections creating little subtleties that makes the eye look at all of the piece in a rhythmic sense.

‘View from a Porch’ – Richard Diebenkorn (1959)

This oil painting by Richard Diebenkorn uses a darker colour palette and has a much different technique and texture to ‘Cityscape #1’ which I like. This painting reminds me of an oil pastel drawing through the scratchy elements and I really like the ways the warm and cold colours work together to create a really interesting composition. I feel that the colours effectively portray the light on each part of the scene, with the shadows in the darker areas and the sunlight on the warmer areas, as well as portraying what materials were in each section. Again, the different elements aren’t just solid colours and are built up of several layers which is realistic, a surprise from an abstract painting.

Information I got from video above:

What an artist does is all about what’s around it, what’s his environment culture, physical, visual. Wandering through the countryside of California Sonoma County, he appears every bit the outdoorsman. I used to think I was really a landscape artist. I think I revise that little bit he is in fact a recent arrival from the big city who has come to this land of colour and quiet to paint to paint the quiet colourful words that have made him famous. He is Richard Diebenkorn, a master of contemporary American art. I think it’s hard for an artist to see to see himself really, I’m aware of a predisposition to sparing this or our aloneness is something I value. Right now, his sense of aloneness extends well beyond the canvas in an age of publicity hungry artists Richard Diebenkorn has always felt uncomfortable in the spotlight, the solitude of the studio suits him well. For years, his working procedure has been the same, to sit and contemplate a canvas sometimes for hours before ever picking up a brush, pieces must go through several sessions. “I never seem to be able to get anything one shot right off, sometimes I get sort of rooted to the to the chair and then sometimes I think well you know I can’t just sit here, I’m going to do something so then I’ll be really rather arbitrary the feeling you feel like you’re wasting time or sometimes yeah it’ll intends going by the pound you describe it in its current state possibly almost finished but to those are kind of famous last words almost finished and I’ve said that about pieces and found my still self still working on them a year later”. Nearly 50 years of it includes early abstract paintings a period during the 50s and 60s when he turned to landscape to still life a human figure and in the last 25 years, the series of serene geometric abstracts that sealed his reputation the ocean park series named for the area in Santa Monica in Southern California where his studio was. It was a place that inspired many of his greatest works, but the pressures of the Los Angeles area began to intrude too much on this most solitary of men in the last year. “I felt each time I went out in the in the car to West Los Angeles for errands or whatever every trip I made it was that much worse I felt that it was I was more hemmed in, more closed in on. The traffic was heavier that shows you something about how high the water was but I am so it was that deep in corn came to the Russian River of Northern California where his dogs Amy and Lucy can run free and where the River itself attracts him again then again do you ever sing a scene like this say alright now I’m just going to go back to representational painting one time just to get this for sure pencelli yeah, I just thought I was down here with Amy several days ago and I thought well next time I come down I’ll bring sketch pad number like draw Richard I’m going to I guess in the 50s when I was doing abstract painting I thought well to do representational stuff is just beyond the pale when the artists ability seriousness is sensibility simply couldn’t do that you know it was so this sort of mindset that for a set of reasons when had and now I am most artists don’t have that mindset. So, if you see something out there that earns you one, well it’s subject. I feel subjects working one measure of demon court standing in the art world this current display of his drawings at the Museum of Modern art in New York another the recent sale of a Diebenkorn painting for $1.2 million which puts him in a very select club of living American artists whose works command such prices. His friend and this exhibits curator John Elderfield said,  “for me he is a very important artist,  he had managed both to be pioneering and to remind one in this work of another great Masters of the past and to reinvent their message for new generations a sort of reimagining of Matty’s of Cezanne or even earlier artists who he admires very deeply got a bit more chaotic all the analysis.” Richard Diebenkorn marvels just like the rest of us at the mystery of how art comes to be created, each of his works a road map of its own making with changes on second thoughts right there on the canvas for anyone to see there’s a trial and error and the budding one’s head against the wall and I might say it’s alright except for one little corner and so I changed that little corner and then that all his other parts and pretty soon then back into it and then maybe it changes completely the aim is not what we might call finish in a conventional way because some of the words look unfinished but rather having fought that fight to his satisfaction and when he feels somehow that his work that out then he can leave it alone.

How Richard Diebenkorn’s work is influencing my project:

The number one element which drew me into Richard Diebenkorn’s work was the way he used shapes to build up a composition as I found his technique really unique and a focus that I could take into my drawings and even paintings. When it comes to his application of colour, I especially like the fact that the colours aren’t fully opaque, they are all transparent in areas which allows other colours to show through. For instance you can sometimes see yellow peeking through green for the fields which is something I explored in my first term and have continued to this term as no colour is fully opaque, even if it looks it. I find this interesting as although I could do things in a really cartoonish way, I want to maintain a sense of realism so it doesn’t all go to fantasy.

Websites used and images:

Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual post – Sidney Nolan

Sidney Nolan was an Australian artist who used a variety of mediums in his work. His work focused on Australian history which is one of the reasons he is so well known.

Although the subject matter of his work is not relevant to my project, I feel that his colour palettes and high amounts of contrast which he uses to draw attention to certain parts of his works could be useful in my work. His work features a lot of nature and landscapes, lots focused in desert like areas which is relevant to where he lived.

The uses of red in ‘Camel and Figure’ and ‘Inland Australia’ are very captivating and it seems like these bright colours were used to portray the intensity of the sun in the desert areas at specific times of day. The fact that places look different depending upon the time of day is very intriguing and shows that you could get different feelings and emotions from architecture and nature during different seasons and times.

Sidney Nolan doesn’t make the skies in his paintings block colours which I like to explore in my own work through adding different colours into the sky as even though sometimes the sky does seem one colour, if you look properly there is always more than meets the eye.

I find this piece very relevant to my work as it includes widows which is a key aspect of my project. I find the colours used very eye catching and I find the layering of browns in the background creates a wood effect which could be Nolan trying to capture an element of history.

Information I got from video above:

A room which is dedicated to Sidney Nolan’s famous Ned Kelly series. It’s a very important series both in the national gallery’s collection but also in the history of Australian art. Part of the reason for the importance of this series is the fact that Nolan drew on the incredible saga of Ned Kelly and the way that he brought a totally fresh response to the Australian landscape and to the idea of a national identity. This series wanted to pick on the idea of a legend based in history. He was interested in Australia’s national identity at a time when the Ward raised a whole lot of questions. One of the iconic images in this series is simply named Kelly and in this painting Nolan encapsulates the image of Ned Kelly in the way that he conceived. We need to remember that this was a totally fresh vision Ned Kelly. He places Ned Kelly on his horse very centrally in the composition and the extraordinary thing about it is he places him in the suit of Armour with the box of his head basically it’s just a black square and in the middle is this visor which stands in for the head and we see the clouds in the Sky had very much that sense of Ned Kelly integrated in the Australian landscape. Very bold and poetic it’s informed by European Modernism as the whole series is and we really get a sense of Nolan trying to nail this idea of what constitutes the Australian landscape, He painted a landscape around the wimmera that he saw when he was in the army. It’s a flat bleached yellow landscape with little trees dotting the horizon line at the spaciousness works beautifully against conic compact image of Ned Kelly with his rifle in his horse. It’s an image that was shown at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 to symbolise Australia, perhaps to give a sense of us as something anti-authoritarian with a sense of which and certainly the image has a sense of drama. Sidney Nolan had an extraordinary vision to the story of Ned Kelly. It’s now become so well recognised in Australian art that the image of Ned Kelly is very much synonymous with Sidney Nolan. It was a very important series in his own artistic life and certainly in the history of Australian art. It has assumed great significance by placing these works in an Oval room as they are, we really get a sense of the unfolding nature of the story. In an almost filmic way, we can trace that view of Ned Kelly in his Armour in a whole lot of different versions. In the way that Nolan has painted him, I think the poetry, the humour, pathos, a lot of bad sense of the struggle that went on in the saga is brought through in the way that Nolan painted this series, but he’s obviously done it in a very poetic way. He thought about how we see the landscape and these works turn just as well in the history of Australian landscape painting as they do in terms of history painting. Sunday Reed gifted the series hanging in this room to the National Gallery in 1977 and we remain very grateful to her for this extraordinary gift.

Information I got from video above:

Sidney Nolan is one of Australia’s most important artists of the second half of the 20th century. His output was prolific, his sense of originality was extraordinary. He was innovative, he took risks he was a truly Avantgarde artist and he really changed the way we understand the Australian landscape. In fact, he changed the way we understand who we are as people, by that I mean that he has become synonymous with the way we understand who we are through the legend of Ned Kelly. It is a wonderful story about this Irish bushranger, but I guess why we find Nolan so fascinating as an artist is his own life story. He started out in Saint Kilda and he grew up so adventurous to take risks,  to you know stand upside down on the Big Dipper and make everybody scream with fear at the thought of him falling off, so he was a bit of a larrikin, a bit of a lad and I think that that sense of taking risks was what underpinned his greatness as an artist. He went to the National Gallery school to attend the sketching classes but as he accounted later he only stayed ever for about half an hour and then it’s a “I’ll forget this I’m going up to read” and he go up into the Public Library and there he read he read the philosopher’s, he read the poets and in fact for some time there was a struggle between whether he would be a poet or whether he would be a painter. Fortunately painting won but his painting is always imbued with a real sense of the poetic and it’s one of the reasons he’s such a great artist. When you get into the 1940s of course he’s called up into the army, he was a pacifist he knew that he couldn’t fire a rifle and so he was sent out into the wimmera district to guard the army stores. It was the light that he discovered out in the wimmera with the horizon line and the wonderful sense of clear blue skies that really tells the story of the loneliness of this young man who had been stationed out there who found beauty in just observing the landscape. When it appeared that he might be sent New Guinea to fight after all and being a pacifist, he left the army,  and he went AWOL. It was during this that he painted the Kelly series out Heidi and it was this series that he really gave Australians a new vision of their own sense of identity. Nolan once said no one will ever know what the series is about but I think we guess that it is very much about the tangled life of Nolan and the reeds and the separation of Nolan from his first wife who he had met when he was in school. He also painted in 1946 an extraordinary image of an Australian footballer they love sport NI loved Australian rules and although for many years people thought that this image of a footballer was generic, we now know from Nolan’s own words that in fact it was someone from his favourite team that he was depicting and was one of his favourite players none other than the famous full back Billy Moore. Nolan later painted another Saint this time a real Saint turn Anthony. In the early 50s he went to Europe for the first time to really explore the old Masters, to come to grips with the great musical scene that he loves so much and in Italy he fell in love with the Renaissance. He fell in love with artists like Joto, like Piero Della Francesca and these artists always brought something new to his work but Nolan couldn’t leave behind his love of the Australian landscape. So, in the temptation of Saint Anthony, you get a Fusion of both the Australian landscape and the Renaissance world of Saints and the Renaissance landscape of Joto. With all of Nolan’s paintings you have this great Fusion of the poetic the personal and the universal as you have in this work.

How Sidney Nolan’s work inspires my project:

I have decided to research Sidney Nolan through the recommendation of one of my tutors. As he focused on the Australian landscape they felt it was relevant as I am focusing on the Architecture in Leicester. The similarity being that we both are focusing on one place only. Although Sidney Nolan’s work isn’t architectural themed, I felt drawn in by the colour schemes and layering. Leicester architecture doesn’t have many colours related to the desert but as I am being experimental with colour in my project, I feel that I could integrate some of Sidney Nolan’s colour schemes into my project, even as mere experiments and if they are successful then I will find ways to take them further. It would be interesting for me to have an icon in my pieces, like Sidney Nolan did with Ned Kelly but I’m not sure what this could be and I don’t want to take away from the architecture but I may look into this in the future.

Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual post – Laurence Stephen Lowry, film on Netflix

Laurence Stephen Lowry also known as L.S Lowry or Laurie, was a British artist who did paintings and drawings based around his hometown, Pendlebury in Lancashire and surrounding areas of Salford. He is famous for his industrial landscape paintings which feature human figures resembling “matchstick men” but a lack of lighting, weather conditions and shadows of the figure led to a lot of bad reviews from critics about his work.

I have decided to research L.S Lowry as I find his style of painting architecture very captivating yet also very simplistic, almost like a children’s book illustration. The limited uses of colour is fitting since he lived in an area which was very industrial so I like his realistic portrayal of the place he was capturing.

Netflix film: Mrs Lowry & Son:

This film focusing on Lowry and his relationship with his mother and painting came out in 2019 and had a duration of 1 hour and 31 minutes. It was directed by Adrian Noble and its description was “British painter L.S Lowry tries to pursue his passion for art while living with a bitter and bedridden mother who takes a dim view of his vocation”.

The film focused a lot on how Lowry’s mother resented him and his father for the way her life ended up since his father got into a lot of debt and they both weren’t successful businessmen. It was clear that this affected Lowry a lot as it was his ambition to pay off his fathers debts and make his mother happy.

In the film it was clear that Lowry’s mother had an issue with his painting and wanted him to be a successful businessman rather than following in his fathers footsteps and becoming a debt collector. Many times she refers to Lowry’s art as a “hobby” and says that he doesn’t have artistic attributes and so will never be an artist, which he disagreed with since he went to art school for several years.

The film mentioned an art critic’s (Mr Denby) opinion of Lowry’s painting ‘Coming from the Mill’ which caused further vexation with his mother. The painting was made in 1930 and is oil on canvas with dimensions of 42cm by 52cm. It features an industrial scene with many figures walking in different directions presumably after work from the title of the piece.

From the paper, his mother read the critics opinion which was; “An ugly painting. The painting by Mr L.S Lowry, ‘Coming from the Mill’, is confusing and appears to have been painted by a child. The figures, if we may call them figures, are nothing but smudges, ridiculous marionettes suspended in a squalid industrial scene. If this is Mr Lowry’s vision of the Lancashire landscape and its people, I feel very sorry for him. It is a most unsatisfactory picture, and an insult to the people of Lancashire.”

Throughout the film, there was a lot of things Lowry says that explains his reasons for painting, processes used and insight into how it makes him feel. I found this interesting as it allowed me to see his viewpoint and it was captured with a lot of emotion.

This is a painting which Lowry’s mother’s neighbour liked which influenced her to like it too. This painting was created for his mother as a “gift of the past” which he painted from his memory of being on the beach in Lytham with his mother when he was 7 years old. His mother liked ir so much that she paid 2 shillings for his work to be entered into an amateur artist competition but it didn’t win. However, Lowry also entered the painting ‘Coming from the Mill’ without telling his mother which someone wanted to buy for £20, this caused his mum to have a bad reaction as her favourite wasn’t chosen. Then she told Lowry that she didn’t like any of his paintings which made him destroy a lot of his work. Then he revealed that every painting he ever did was for his mother. everything he does is for her, for love.

His mother died in 1939 and later that year he got his first exhibition in London. He was offered several British honours including an OBE and a knighthood but turned them all down saying “there seemed little point…once mother was dead.”

Quotations from the film:

“I paint what I see, I paint how I feel, I am a man who paints. Nothing more, nothing less. Every picture I paint begins the same way – begins the same colour (white) Flake White.”

“I paint to fill in the time, I paint for something to do. I’m not fit for anything else. Night after night, I sit up here in the attic. Nothing in the house stirs. The smell of turpentine, the hiss of the gas jet, Outside, one solitary star watches over me. This is my world. I’m safe here. Alone. I paint, and I paint. A smudge here with my finger, a stroke of the brush there. I see light and atmosphere in the bleakest of places, a railway arch, a stone viaduct. There’s a beauty in everything. A man just has to open his eyes and look. Observe everything. Life. What does that make me? Am I an artist? What would you call yourself Laurie?”

I found these quotes really interesting and it related to my project through capturing the atmosphere of Leicester through studies of the buildings, though I haven’t considered incorporating figures into my work this is something I could try out at some point.

Overall, the film was very interesting and featured a lot of information and quotes which are really helpful in allowing me to identify some of the ways I can approach my studies of Leicester.

Information I got from video above:

In 1938 Daisy jewel persuaded the director of the LeFevre Gallery in new Bond Street London to show some of Lowry’s paintings. In early 1939, attracting many reviews in the national press his mother was not impressed but the Tate Gallery was, and they bought dwellings Ordsall Lane for £15.00 but they didn’t display for 20 years which Lowry took personally believing that they didn’t really want the painting. His mother died in October 1939 and Lowry painted the bedroom in Pendlebury in memory of the long hours he spent looking after her. After she died, Lowry lost all interest and continuing to paint was his only Salvation. Lowry was 52 when his mother died and for the next nine years he stayed in the house alone. He had no wife, but he did adopt several young female companions who he mentored and paid to go through art college. He referred to them collectively as Anne. A young girl called Carol Lowry of no relation was one of these girls. She had written to him in 1957 saying she had an interest in art and since she shared a surname would he offer her advice. He took her to gallery’s and paid for her education throughout college. Years later Carrol said he always behaved immaculately; he was always invariably extremely circumspect in his behaviour towards her. In the 1940s, he became an official war artist as he drew the ruined shelves of bombed outbuildings and was strongly affected emotionally. These paintings sold for as much as £60.00 each. You could see from his pictures how his own loneliness is reflected in his paintings but by 1948 he was earning good money as a painter, so he moved to a new house to the more affluent village of Mottram in Longdendale near Manchester. He began collecting works by other artists that he admired particularly the pre-Raphaelite painter daunting Gabriel Rossetti. In 1951 he confessed to a psychiatrist friend how he would stare for hours at empty houses with empty windows standing in isolation on derelict streets. He saw in those desolate buildings an image of himself.

How Lowry’s work inspires me in my project:

As Lowry focused on painting scenes where he lives, I felt I could easily relate to him as my project is focused on Leicester, the place I have grew up in and lived my whole life. I find his processes and colour palettes very simple yet effective and they easily demonstrate his difficult relationship with his mother, I can see how he felt isolated and alone through his paintings with a lot of the figures not interacting with each other. I find the ways he paints buildings very effective as they have a lot of detail yet are simple at the same time, reminding me of children’s book illustrations or small cartoons. This combination of realism and playful characters is something I have been exploring in my work as I feel it can really bring out the qualities of a place, even subtlety. I find the ways people reacted to his art over the years very interesting in a sense that I feel sorry for him with his passion being looked down on by strangers and even those close to him. I feel that I have been judged by people in the past for taking an artistic education rather than academic but I can’t comprehend what it must have been like back in Lowry’s experiences. I feel that his work truly captures what industrialism was like and I am going to continue to use Lowry’s work as inspiration throughout my project.

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