press release

It has become commonplace to classify art by decade, to assign the 1950s with certain characteristics and the 1960s with other distinct qualities. Whilst this is an oversimplification, it is certainly true that there was a shift in the work of many of the major artists of the post-war period so that their works of the 1950s and 1960s markedly differ in character. This exhibition traces some of these changes.

Michael Andrews, meanwhile, went from careful student life drawings and ambitious figurative paintings painstakingly executed to a more confident handling of colour and paint. A stress on the individual continued but was overlaid by an ever increasing complexity of style and sophistication of content in which the individual in a social setting grew particularly important.

Meanwhile, Peter de Francia began the 1950s stimulated by friendship with Renato Guttuso and inspired by the examples of realism he witnessed first hand in Italy and France, producing powerful single and multifigure compositions that ranged from heroic scenes of workers to depictions of tragic contemporary events such as the Bombing of Sakiet. By the 1960s, however, he was also developing his use of genre scenes that often display a great tenderness.

Derrick Greaves changed even more dramatically. As a “kitchen-sink” painter in the 1950s he used thick paint, robustely handled and sought to convey the materiality of what was in front of him. But by the end of the decade he had thinned out his paint and was restructuring his language, increasingly turning inwards to dreams as an inspiration for his art.

Robert Medley, for example, began the 1950s by painting ambitious figurative compositions showing bicyclists and the Antique Room at the Slade School of Art. A winner alongside Lucian Freud of the Festival of Britian’s Sixty for ‘51 competition he was a powerful exemplar to young figurative painters. Yet he entered the 1960s as a powerful abstract painter, whose synthesis of abstraction and figuration placed him alongside artists such as Peter Lanyon, Roger Hilton, Ceri Richards and Graham Sutherland.

New Directions
Paintings and drawings from the 1950s and 1960s

Künstler: Michael Andrews, Peter de Francia, Derrick Greaves, Robert Medley