Sunday, 15 March 2009

More galleries

The last month or so has provided a little time to take advantage of Senior discounts on the rail system. First to Kelvingrove in Glasgow to view the Scottish Impressionism exhibition. Wonderful, instructive and best of all the time to browse the other exhibits and it is of them that I want to speak. On the ground floor as we wandered to the stairs to the feature exhibition I glanced through a door and was immediately drawn in. The two paintings below, along with a wealth of other wonders were displayed. I had my first introduction to the Glasgow Boys. Painters who bucked the trend in the UK who were early in embracing the revolution that was taking place across the Channel. The Scots were aware and appreciative of the shift that became known as Impressionism largely because they had gallery owners and collectors with the foresight to see the quality of the work being produced in France. Scottish painters were exposed to works from abroad, some of them travelled and many of them absorbed the ideas of composition, paint application, subject matter and technique. It was impossible to leave without spending a small fortune on books that cover the works of these masters.

Hard at It - James Guthrie

Old Willie - James Guthrie

Having travelled to Glasgow it seemed insulting not to grace Edinburgh with our custom and the following week we set out for the Scottish capital with the intention of visiting the National Gallery of Scotland. Another peach of a gallery but my focus rapidly narrowed to one room. There on the wall, 10ft x 8ft, was one of the most stunning pieces that you could see. Worth the trip on its own. Church, a member of the group of painters known as the Hudson Valley artists and whose only work exhibited in Europe is the picture below. It is almost as breathtaking as the sight of the Falls in the flesh. I was nothing short of mesmerised by it. Frantic searching for posters left me frustrated until I discovered a book that depicted many of the works of Church. There was no other move but buy it. Another search initiated, for the American Sublime.

Niagara from the American side - Edwin Church

Not to be outdone, we do have our own masters in the UK and it was a wonderful juxtaposition of images to have the Constable below on a wall alongside the Church. Another worth the journey by itself.

Dedham Vale - John Constable

Not so far afield, we have interesting galleries the North East and one of them, the Laing, has regular travelling exhibitions. The images below are from the recent touring exhibition of paintings by Stanley Spencer, an artist with a very distinctive vision of the world. All of these paintings include the artist himself and show very different views and times in his life. The outstanding brushwork and use of canvas in this exhibition is a real treat as is his rendition of the human face and form.

The Artist and his Wife - Stanley Spencer

Self Portrait - Stanley Spencer

Self Portrait - Stanley Spencer

Back to my own painting next time and a report on my latest session of tuition.


Dan Corey said...

great stuff here Mick, Church is one of my all time favs, if you get the chance check out William Trost Richards. great oils and unreal goauche work. I don't know what I'm signed in as so this is Dan

Mick Carney said...

Done it, he's a beauty. The Church painting prompted me to look a little further and I've just acquired a copy of the American Sublime, a catalogue of an exhibition held about eight years ago. It contains major works by Church, Cole, Bierstadt etc. This expands my ever growing library and rapidly diminishes the contents of my pockets. All of these discoveries are making life exciting and challenging.