Our pick of this week's art events: 16 - 22 May
By Sam Phillips
Published 16 May 2014
From everyday design to the painterly abstraction of Richard Smith's works on paper.
Kenneth Clark: Looking for Civilisation
Tate Britain, 20 May – 10 August 2014.
Not many 30-year-olds could direct the National Gallery, but then not many have had the intellectual clout of Kenneth Clark, the art historian who assumed the post at that tender age in 1933. Clark is known best for the television series ‘Civilisation’ (1969), the BBC’s broad sweep of Western cultural history, but Tate Britain this week reminds us that he was also a proponent of contemporary art during the 1930s and 1940s, particularly a British brand of Modernism furthered by figures such as Henry Moore, John Piper and Graham Sutherland.
Designing the Everyday: From Bloomsbury and Ravilious to the Present Day
Towner, Eastbourne, 17 May – 31 August 2014.
Sutherland was one of the figures who participated in Harrods exhibition ‘Modern Art for the Table’ (1934). Directed by celebrated English ceramicist Clarice Cliff, the show saw painters such as Paul Nash, Laura Knight RA and Duncan Grant produce avant-garde crockery, glasses and vases. Some of these objects come together again 80 years later at Eastbourne’s Towner, in an exhibition from Saturday that examines how 20th-century British artists – from the Bloomsbury Group onwards – took an interest in making everyday objects.
Otto Dix: Der Kreig
De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, 17 May–27 July
A short way up the coast at Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion, an exhibition opens of powerful prints by Otto Dix. The German artist had to wait ten years before he was ready to explore his traumatic experiences in the trenches during the First World War, and the dark visions on view – including the advance of ghost-like gas-masked troops – is harrowing in comparison to the more restrained works produced by British artists during the war, and an important reminder of the war’s impact across the continent.
Caziel: Forever Yours – Paintings and Drawings, 1948–1955
Whitford Fine Art, until 3 June 2014.
Polish painter Caziel (full name Kazimierz Józef Zielenkiewicz) was one of the broad range of artists in the School of Paris, who, between the wars, gravitated towards the French capital’s melting pot of different artistic styles. Caziel’s at first blended Post-Impressionism and Polish folklore, before, as a show of later work at Whitford Fine Art now shows, embracing abstraction under the influence of his friend Picasso. Interestingly he returned to the figure after falling in love with Scottish painter Catherine Sinclair in 1952, producing ink and wash Odalisques in a paen to his new partner.
Richard Smith: Works on Paper
Flowers Gallery, 21 May–21 June 2014.
Richard Smith’s work brought together two divergent strands of post-war art practice: painterly abstraction and Pop Art. His innovative ideas were incubated while studying alongside British artists Peter Blake and Joe Tilson RA at the Royal College of Art in the mid-1950s and, as a new show at Flowers Gallery demonstrates, they found radiant expression in works on paper as well as the larger-scale paintings for which he is well-known.
Sam Phillips is the Editor of RA Magazine.