The Mythic Method: Classicism in British Art 1920-1950
Author(s): Simon Martin
Year published: October 2016
Publisher: Pallant House Gallery
Publisher Location: Chichester
Total Pages: 128
Illustrations: Colour throughout
Published to accompany the exhibition The Mythic Method: Classicism in British Art 1920-1950 at Pallant House Gallery, 22 October 2016 – 19 February 2017.
Writing of the modernist novel Ulysses, the poet TS Eliot praised James Joyce’s use of classical mythology to create a parallel between antiquity and the uncertain present. Many British artists employed this ‘mythic method’ to evoke the ancient world in a search for tranquillity and enduring values in the aftermath of the First World War, echoing the ‘return to order’ in the work of European artists like Pablo Picasso in the 1920s and 1930s. Artists such as Wyndham Lewis, Vanessa Bell, Edward Wadsworth, and William Roberts abandoned abstraction for timeless images of muses and Greek goddesses, while classical myths were playfully depicted by Edward Burra, John Armstrong and Eric Ravilious, and during the Second World War artists such as Michael Ayrton and Henry Moore explored a culture in ruins through the lens of Greco-Roman myth.
Featuring paintings, mural studies, drawings, photography, prints and sculpture by over forty artists, this richly illustrated book provides a fresh insight into how modern art met with tradition in an era of social and political change, presenting a stimulating reassessment of an unjustly neglected and important aspect of modern British art.
Simon Martin is Artistic Director of Pallant House Gallery and the author of numerous books on modern British art, including Edward Burra (2011) and Conflict and Conscience: British Artists and the Spanish Civil War (2014).