Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Art of Stanley Spencer.

ONE of the better things to have been shown on TV recently, was the BBC Four programme, 'British Masters' introduced by the art historian James Fox.

Just before and after the First World War, a radical generation of painters determined to eject Victorian sentimentality and nostalgia from their art and pioneered a new style of painting that would capture and make sense of the modern experience.

Drawing upon the work of Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Francis Bacon, Stanley Spencer, Walter Sickert, Wyndham Lewis and others, Fox explores why, during the 20th century, British painters were often dismissed for being old-fashioned. He reveals how these artists carefully reconciled tradition and modernity, providing a unique creative tension that now makes the period seem so exciting.

Fox argues that British painting from 1910 to 1975 was an extraordinary flowering of genius that ranked alongside the Golden Ages of Renaissance Italy and Impressionist France.

"Walter Sickert shocked the public by making the low-lives of Camden Town and a brutal murder the subject of his gaze. Wyndham Lewis and David Bomberg broke with centuries of realist tradition, reducing humanity to cold geometric forms. But as the country descended into war, three painters - Christopher Nevinson, Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer - reconciled what was best of the avant-garde with Britain's rich painterly tradition to create powerful images of war that would speak to us all."

For me, what was of great interest, was the art of Stanley Spencer and in particular, his murals at Sandham Memorial Chapel. Watch the video and see for yourself.

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