PATRICK CAULFIELD RETROSPECTIVE
The exhibition is organized by the British Council and The Hayward Gallery. Pop Art was born in London during the 1950s. Motivated by every-day life, pictorial themes of this style reflect a reaction against Abstract Expressionism's nonrepresentational art. Patrick Caulfield was viewed as the leading British Pop artist of his generation. Along with contemporaries David Hockney, R.B. Kitaj, Allen Jones, Bridget Riley, and others, Caulfield took "the ghastly good taste" of British painting and gave it a new sparkle, direction, and grip on reality--painting became bright, brilliant, ironic and abstract, deadpan and engaged. Pop Art reached its height in North America during the 1960s. Warhol, Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, and Rosenquist, are a few of the artists who defined the movement in the United States by taking common objects and turning them into cultural icons. Unlike his contemporaries in New York, Caulfield relied less on mass-produced images such as Donald Duck cartoons, Brillo boxes, and Campbell’s soup cans. Instead, his pictures combine levels of illustrative expression found in items with a naive pictorial language in which personal, social, political, and artistic images meet. Using pictorial themes such as stacks of pottery, a pony, chimney pots on a roof and sometimes referring to work by the Old Masters, Caufield’s images are focused with a singular intensity. Outlined in his trademark black line and eliminating superfluous detail, Caulfield’s paintings are vivid, concrete, and ironic. In the 1970s Patrick Caulfield expanded his themes and interests, and a series of commanding architectural interiors took hold of his art. Varying from a bleak foyer to a grand entrance court, a Swiss chalet or an exotic bar, his subject matter contains a sense of absolute clarity and order. Caulfield’s painting is almost entirely without the human figure, although each work is redolent with an unseen human presence. The irony of these paintings is sharp and disturbing: an overwhelming sense of abundance is juxtaposed with an equal sense of bleakness. Where Caulfield may have begun as the star of British Pop, he had become within a decade a powerful painter of modern life. The world he surveyed during the seventies was both luxurious and empty. Over the past two decades, Patrick Caulfield has deepened and elaborated the theme of the uninhabited interior and added to it an eerie evocativeness. For example, he confronts the viewer with cafes without diners, banquets without banqueters, offices emptied of workers, glasses of wine and whiskey without drinkers, kitchens without chefs. These mysterious absences are painted in bright, high-keyed colors as though the human presence were hiding in plain sight. Patrick Caulfield has become increasingly a painter of light and the shattered effects of light refracted or broken through an interior. Brilliantly lit interiors are seen as though from the surrounding shadows and darkness, adding to the sense of mystery and poetry. Patrick Caulfield has often confessed to a deep admiration for the American painter Edward Hopper. One finds that something of the poetry and the loneliness of Hopper’s best work finds its way into Caulfield’s contemporary view of British life. For more than thirty years, Patrick Caulfield has become one of the most widely admired and respected British artists of the last half of the twentieth century. Although he had several one-man shows in New York early in his career, his reputation in America has not kept pace with his reputation abroad. Frequently and facilely compared with Roy Lichtenstein, Patrick Caulfield has taken a markedly different path from his famous New York contemporary. Starting out as a Pop artist, Caulfield has developed his style into an ever deepening and more paradoxical commentary on modern life, its mysteries and its promises, its public declarations and its private obsessions. He deserves to be far better known and more widely recognized in the United States. The Yale Center for British Art is mounting this retrospective exhibition in the hope that it may reestablish Patrick Caulfield’s pre-eminent reputation as a contemporary painter in the U.S.
Existing or coming into being at the same period; of today or of the present. The term that designates art being made today.
Work of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is a tightly stretched piece of canvas, paper or a wooden panel. Painting involves a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's intellectual concerns effecting the content of a work.
USA, New Haven, Yale Center For British Art
- 27 October 1999
Portugal, Lisbon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
- 02 July 1999
Belgium, Luxembourg, Musee National D'histoire Et D'art
- 23 April 1999
UK, London, Hayward Gallery
- 04 February 1999