Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Patrick Caulfield - part 4

Patrick Caulfield (1936 – 2005) was a British painter and printmaker whose pictures combine simple graphics with a naive pictorial style in which personal, social, political and artistic images meet.

This is part 4 of a 4-part post on the works of Patrick Caulfield.


Part 4 features his 1973 silkscreen print series Some Poems of Jules Laforgue. Caulfield was introduced to the poetry of Laforgue by a fellow student at the Royal College of Art who suspected that the 19th Century French poet would appeal to him. Caulfield kept hold of the college library’s translation long past its return date. The qualities that he particularly admired in Laforgue’s poems could also, perhaps, describe Caulfield’s art – “wonderfully concise, managing to be both romantic and ironic”. When invited to produce a limited edition book, Jules Laforgue was Caulfield’s natural subject choice.

Laforgue was a pioneer of what we now refer to as free verse. He experimented with vocabulary, structure and rhythm, and his poetry had a considerable impact on 20th Century Imagist poets such as Ezra Pound and T.S.Eliot. His books of verse include Les Complaintes (1885) and Imitation de Notre Dame la lune (1887).

He spent much of his short career entertaining the Francophile Empress Augusta at the German court, touring Europe and writing verse which was often accompanied by music. This experience was possibly a factor in the development of his innovatory style of poetry.


Laforgue was also interested in art criticism and was an early supporter of the Impressionists. Although his verse probably had more in common with Symbolist art with his extensive use of imagery and interest in the sub-conscious, he admired the anti- academism of these young Parisians. He felt that he shared a common aim in his own artistic endeavours as he too was pursuing new ways of expressing life in the modern age. Laforgue was also an early supporter of women’s liberation. He died at the age of 27 from tuberculosis. 

Much of Laforgue’s poetry attempts to capture the banality of everyday life. In Complaint about a certain Sunday, for example, there is an underlying tension between the need for outward repose and the inner hysteria that the poet is experiencing through sheer boredom. One of the line’s Caulfield chose to accompany is “Watch me eat, without appetite, la carte” (no. 2 below):



1. 'Ah! This life is so everyday' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

2. 'Watch me eat, without appetite, à la carte' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

3. 'She fled along the avenue' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

4. 'Her handkerchief swept me along the Rhine' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

5. 'I'll take my life monotonous' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

6. 'You'll be sick if you spend all your time indoors' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

7. 'Crying to the walls, My God! My God! Will she relent?'
 screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

8. 'All these confessions ...' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

9. 'Making circles on park lagoons' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

10. 'Oh! If one of them, some fine evening, would try' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

11. 'Thus, she would come, escaped, half-dead to my door'
 screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

12. 'And with my eyes bolting toward the unconscious' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

13. 'We wanted to bleed the silence' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

14. 'Along a twilighted sky' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

15. 'Oh Helen, I roam my room' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

16. 'I've only the friendship of hotel rooms' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

17. 'She'll have forgotten her scarf' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

18. 'And I am alone in my house' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

19. 'All the benches are wet, the woods are so rusty' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

20. 'Ah! Storm clouds rushed from the Channel coasts' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

21. 'Curtains drawn back from balconies of shores' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

22. 'My life inspires so many desires' 
screenprint on paper 41 x 35.9 cm 
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002


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