reported by James Staniland. Once again, on Saturday 19th March 2016 we had another sell out Art Study Day given by Dr. Graham Whitham and chaired by Sally Coston.
Dr. Whitham kept us enthralled with four talks on “Tradition and Modernism: British Art 1880-1939”.
He started with the modernist rebellions: Camden Town to Vorticism which was really the beginnings of modern art and how artists rebelled against the hierarchy of the Royal Academy and started to paint and display scenes of workers and people experiencing hardship – pictures the middle classes would have felt uncomfortable hanging in their living rooms.
Things changed rapidly with the first world war. Although there was black and white film, artists were commissioned to paint scenes giving colour to the battle scenes and showing the glory of the war for propaganda purposes. We were shown pictures such as John Singer Sargent’s “Gassed” and “dazzle ships” in which Edward Wadsworth played a major part. Paintings during the war were not allowed to depict dead Empire soldiers.
We were shown works from Henry Tonks who painted many mutilated faces of the battle-wounded to assist Harold Gillies in his fine work in the early days of plastic surgery.
After the war the rebelliousness of the pre-war artists had dwindled and there was a return to realism as artists returned to painting the English countryside and other nationalist scenes as our country recovered to regain its identity. However by 1930 abstraction and surrealism were in vogue and many British artists returned from France to further develop the styles of their counterparts in Europe.
Other artists covered by Dr. Whitham included the sculptors Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Jacob Epstein and painters: Augustus John and his sister Gwen.
Jan Stanyon, Sarah Boyle and Paul Boyle produced the usual delicious lunch and kept us plied with hot drinks in the intervals. Many thanks to all of them for their tireless help.
It was a thoroughly interesting day and, as usual, everyone left completely satisfied. There are a few tickets available for the next Art Study Day which is on 19th November.