A PARADISE LOST THE NEO-ROMANTIC IMAGINATION IN BRITAIN 1935-55
From the late 1930s through to the 1950s a number of British artists, writers, photographers and film makers produced a new kind of Romantic art. While it looked back to a 19th century tradition of 'visionary' art - to William Blake and to certain styles of landscape panting, it also drew upon the continental Modernist art of Picasso, Miro, Rouault and Masson. This exhibition examined the themes and locations, the imagination of this Neo-Romantic style from the Pastoral as genre to an altogether more violent view of Nature.
The exhibition was curated by Dr David Mellor of Sussex University and organised by the Barbican Art Gallery. A catalogue, edited by David Mellor and with essays by Andrew Crozier, Nannette Aldred, Angela Weight and Ian Jeffrey, was publish to accompany the show. ISBN 0 8531 532
A transparent, flexible plastic material, usually of cellulose acetate or polyester, on which light-sensitive emulsion is coated, or on which an image can be formed by various transfer processes.
In a specialised sense this term refers to the portrayal of everyday life, and refers to painting; more broadly it means the subject types covered by an artist.
The 17th Century French Academy decreed that there were five main genres an artist should study. These were History, Portrait, Genre, Landscape and Still Life. History was considered the most important as it portrayed Man in his most noblest endeavours and in his relationship with God; Still Life the lowest as it dealt with the moribund and innate.
Landscape is one of the principle genres of Western art. In early paintings the landscape was a backdrop for the composition, but in the late 17th Century the appreciation of nature for its own sake began with the French and Dutch painters (from whom the term derived). Their treatment of the landscape differed: the French tried to evoke the classical landscape of ancient Greece and Rome in a highly stylised and artificial manner; the Dutch tried to paint the surrounding fields, woods and plains in a more realistic way. As a genre, landscape grew increasing popular, and by the 19th Century had moved away from a classical rendition to a more realistic view of the natural world. Two of the greatest British landscape artists of that time were John Constable and JMW Turner, whose works can be seen in the Tate collection (www.tate.org.uk). There can be no doubt that the evolution of landscape painting played a decisive role in the development of Modernism, culminating in the work of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists . Since then its demise has often been predicted and with the rise of abstraction, landscape painting was thought to have degenerated into an amateur pursuit. However, landscape persisted in some form into high abstraction, and has been a recurrent a theme in most of the significant tendencies of the 20th Century. Now manifest in many media, landscape no longer addresses solely the depiction of topography, but encompasses issues of social, environmental and political concern.
UK, London, Barbican Art Gallery
- 21 May 1987 − 19 July 1987