Saturday, July 13, 2013

A showcase of works by L.S. Lowry

Tate Britain hosts an exhibit of landscapes by the legendary British artist, L.S. Lowry, probably the first of its kind being showcased by any public institution in London since his death. It focuses on the very best of his urban scenes as well as industrial landscapes.

These comprise Tate’s ‘Coming Out of School’ and ‘The Pond’ along with some significant loans. The exhibition tries to re-assess the famous painter’s valuable contribution to art history as Britain’s pre-eminent painter of the industrial city. Here are the key aspects of the painter’s art, life and practice:
  • 'Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life' demonstrates Lowry’s connections and debts to French painting of the later 19th century and its determination to make art out of the realities of the emerging modern city. It reveals what Lowry learned from the strange symbolist townscapes of his French born teacher Adolphe Valette.
  • The showcase demonstrates important parallels with the painters of modern life Vincent van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat and Maurice Utrillo, drawing upon these artists’ continuous search for ways to depict the unlovely facts of the city’s edges and the landscape made by industrialization.
  • For Lowry modern painting needed to represent the remaining rituals of public life: football matches and protest marches, evictions and fist-fights, workers going to and from the mill. Without his pictures, Britain would arguably lack an account in paint of the experiences of the 20th-century working class. Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life reveals how Lowry developed his structure of the city based on his personal relationship to social space.
  • Many works demonstrate Lowry’s unique engagement with street life and his development of a cast of characters portraying the ways in which his subjects’ lives unfold and become unstuck, highlighting the unpredictability and unsteadiness of working-class life. As a modern painter Lowry wished to show what the industrial revolution had made of the world, yet his dominant status in British art coincided with a disappearance of the industrialized world he engaged with.  The exhibition’s final room presents for the first time all eight of his less well known, late industrial panoramas.
‘Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life’ continues at Tate Britain until 20 October 2013.

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