RA Magazine Winter 2012
Issue Number: 117
Regional Preview: Art around Britain
Our pick of the season's art outings takes in avant-garde sculpture in Leeds, William Scott at St Ives, and a Scottish Colourist in Edinburgh. By Richard Cork
CORNWALL: TATE ST IVES
26 Jan–6 May, 2013
William Scott, 'Mackerel on a Plate', 1951-52. Tate/© The estate of William Scott . Although famed above all for his distinctive still-life paintings, William Scott was among the first leading British artists to become fully aware of the Abstract Expressionist revolution. During the 1950s he exhibited in New York, met many of the avant-garde artists and became particularly friendly with Mark Rothko. Now Scott’s own fruitful shifts between abstraction and figuration will be explored in a major exhibition at Tate St Ives.
Celebrating the centenary of his birth in February 1913, the show charts Scott’s journey from his native Scotland, training in Northern Ireland and then at the Royal Academy Schools, and his subsequent career divided between London and the west of England, often visiting artists from the St Ives Group. His early work, influenced above all by French art, is represented by paintings as simplified as Seated Nude (1939). By 1951-52 Scott was exploring a far bleaker vision in Mackerel on a Plate and in the 1960s he created a more abstract world in sensuous paintings like White, Sand and Ochre (1960-61). The Tate show will travel to the Hepworth Wakefield and the Ulster Museum, Belfast.
LEEDS: THE HENRY MOORE INSTITUTE
1913: The Shape of Time
22 Nov–17 Feb, 2013
Amedeo Modigliani, 'Caryatid', 1913. © The Garman Ryan Collection. The year 1913 was an immensely exciting time for avant-garde sculpture – yet it was an excitement that was to be cut short by the coming of the First World War. That year, young artists across Europe vied with each other in producing adventurous works that challenged existing ideas about what sculptors might achieve. Now, a century later, the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds is staging ‘1913: The Shape of Time’. Taking its title from the American art historian George Kubler’s book of the same name, written in 1962, this exhibition reveals that innovative artists were caught up in the ceaseless dynamism of change.
So many audacious projects began in 1913, ranging from Diaghilev’s The Rite of Spring and the publication of Apollinaire’s Cubist Painters to the first Armory Show in New York and Roger Fry’s Omega Workshops in London. Pushing towards abstraction, but caught up at the same time in bringing together different viewpoints with the aid of observation, memory and intuition, the young rebels opened up extraordinary possibilities for sculpture.
Duchamp was the most extreme, deciding that a bicycle wheel could be seen as a ready-made art object. But Boccioni, the most talented member of the Italian Futurist movement, transformed a traditional still-life subject by injecting speed and flux into it, producing Development of a Bottle in Space. Paris-based painters such as Modigliani suddenly grew obsessed by sculpture, as seen in his drawing which simplifies the body of a female caryatid with erotic and arresting allure.
Over in London, the 22-year-old prodigy Henri Gaudier-Brzeska twisted the limbs of two combatants into a dance-like relief in Wrestlers, which Diaghilev would undoubtedly have admired. And Epstein, as well as carving directly into stone blocks to produce minimal images of pregnant women and copulating doves, purchased a second-hand rock drill. By the end of 1913, he had placed on this phallic machine his own white plaster figure of the driller, astonishing or enraging everyone who saw this robotic precursor of the mechanized war that would soon overwhelm the world.
EDINBURGH: SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART
The Scottish Colourist: S.J. Peploe
until 23 June, 2013
Samuel John Peploe, 'Tulips and Fruit', 1919. The New Art Gallery, Walsall. Private Collection. Long admired as a leading Scottish Colourist, Samuel Peploe (1871-1935) is now being given a major exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The first substantial survey of his work to be held for nearly three decades, it coincides with another Peploe show in November at the Portland Gallery in London (www.portlandgallery.com). The Edinburgh exhibition contains over 100 paintings and reveals the progress of an artist who, around 1900, began with painting still-life subjects that fused his love of Manet with an admiration for Hals and Rembrandt. Born in Edinburgh, where he lived most of his life, Peploe studied at l’Académie Julian in Paris and was to become one of the Scottish Colourists, a small group of painters who were influenced by the rich colours and bold handling in French Fauvist painting. In 1910 Peploe’s close friend J.D. Fergusson persuaded him to return to Paris, where he responded to the art of Matisse and Picasso, with works such as Tulips and Fruit from 1919. In later life he turned to landscape, painting his native Scotland.
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