Books

A Day in the Sun: Outdoor Pursuits in Art in the 1930s

ISBN: 9780856676192
Artist(s): Various
Author(s): Timothy Wilcox
Format: hardback
Year published: 2006
Publisher: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 112
Illustrations: Illustrated in colour throughout

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This ground-breaking exhibition focuses on an overlooked strand in British painting of the 1930s. It reveals a small group of figure painters, situated stylistically between the avant-garde abstractionists and the entrenched Edwardian traditions of belle peinture, who were looking for ways of being both modern and in touch with a wide public. Their crisp, realist style was one which enjoyed a vogue across Europe, and has been explored in a number of recent exhibitions on the Continent, but the full extent of the movement has never been investigated in its British context. The artists include Stanley Spencer and William Roberts, painters whose contribution to British painting between the wars is only now being fully recognised. Alongside them are shown a host of lesser names, including Maxwell Armfield, Laura Knight and Harold Williamson. Their paintings of swimmers, cyclists and sunbathers promote an aspect of our own culture in the 1930s which has long been concealed beneath the shadow of similar activities in Germany, where Freikorperkultur was put to the service of a more sinister ideology. Yet, these British paintings may not be as innocent as they seem, either. The exhibition also includes travel posters, press photographs and printed ephemera, all of which demonstrate the penetration and cross-fertilisation of this imagery across a wide range of visual culture.

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