Saturday, 19 October 2013

Weekend Arts: Lowry

Source: Wiki (see terms of use)
You can always get me along to an exhibition of an artist with a clear world-view, even if it's not one I particularly like.  Only just squeaked in to the Tate Lowry, though, which closes this weekend.

No great visual revelations here - you know pretty much what you are going to get, wall after wall of it (none of his strange erotic stuff included in this show).  But there are several really illuminating things to be learned that you won't find in wiki.
  • He can properly be placed squarely in the French tradition of Utrillo and Pissarro, having been formally trained at the Manchester School of Art by the less well-known impressionist Valette.  Indeed, he (Lowry) exhibited in Paris more than in England in his early years.  (To judge from the single Valette in the show - a grand urban nocturne - the master was, *ahem* perhaps better than the student ... just a matter of taste, obviously)
  • He was a fire-watcher on a high factory roof during WW2, which readily explains the perspectives of many of his post-war paintings.
  • He was capable of taking the piss in no uncertain terms.  Two separate paintings are exhibited side-by-side without comment, one entitled 'People arriving at work' and the other 'People going home from work'.  They are essentially identical (not mirror-images), down to the colour of individuals' coats
  • He had a short 'welsh' period when he painted some more-studious-than-usual / less generic, and rather magnificent Welsh landscapes  
  • Gates and gateways clearly had significance for him (might be a fruitful opening for psychological speculation)
This is all a bit late to count as a recommendation for any except London-area readers - sorry about that - but it's meant that way.  Time well spent.



Demetrius said...

Lowry may look outlandish to the modern eye but being of an age to say I was there and was at times it has an unnerving element of truth. Worse is that often the memory says that some things were better.

Elby the Beserk said...

Another illuminating fact re the wonderful Lowry - like myself, he was a Manchester City supporter.

Lucky you, Nick - it must have been a wonderful exhibition.

DtP said...

Always have time for Lowry - the duplication of folks attending work appeals. Grayson Perry's doing the Reith Lectures and ostensibly if you don't know what art is you'll never know!

Electro-Kevin said...

It's hard to imagine Britain was like that.

Graeme said...

a sadly incompetent and uncaring painter...he was the forerunner of the Smas card poainters of our age.

Nick Drew said...

definitely not technically incompetent, Graeme, as some of his very early works show

'uncaring' is a bit more difficult to decide, he certainly had a cold aspect and, as the post suggested, could be pretty flippant (and indeed slapdash)

and one could say 'technically careless' about (e.g.) perspective, although see the comment on his fire-watching vantage point)

but it is equally clear his work speaks strongly to very many people, which isn't a bad definition of art

DJK said...

I'd go with technically incompetent, having seen some of his early works at the Whitworth, some years ago.

But, each to his own.