Thursday 5 May 2011

Meredith Frampton - portraitist

Here’s a change – some old fashioned and very elegant portraiture from English painter Meredith Frampton (1894 – 1984). Frampton was born in London; the only son of the noted establishment sculptor Sir George Frampton and the artist Christabel Cockerell. Meredith studied at John’s Wood Art School and entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1913. His first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1920, his work winning increasing critical recognition. The final years and aftermath of the Great War saw a return of realism and of styles dating back to before Post-Impressionism, in the so-called ‘Return to Order’. This became known as ‘Neo-Realism’ or ‘Modern Realism’ in England and it was led by Meredith Frampton, Charles Ginner, Harold Gilman and the Euston Road School.
Frampton produced highly finished portraits and still-lifes, sometimes with a slightly Surrealist flavour. He excelled at conveying the intellectual qualities of his sitters. Frampton’s portraiture harks back to the tradition of full-length portraits of women associated with the work of earlier artists, such as Van Dyck and Gainsborough.

1919 Sir George James Frampton

On the death of his father in 1928, Meredith took over his studio at 90 Carlton Hill in St John’s Wood. Frampton became one of the most sought-after portraitists of the inter-war years, but was a painfully slow worker and unsurprisingly, his output was small, but significant. He painted a few female portraits that helped define the ‘Roaring Twenties’. His 1921 portrait of Winifred Radford was commissioned by her husband, Douglas Illingworth.

1921 Winifred Radford

Frampton’s elegant full-length portrait Marguerite Kelsey is in the collection of the Tate Galleries.

1928 Margeurite Kelsey

His oil on canvas Portrait of a Young Woman was also presented to the Tate. Frampton later said that he painted that picture as ‘a relaxation from commissions, and to celebrate an assembly of objects… beautiful in their own right’. The sitter was Margaret Austin-Jones, then aged 23. Her dress was made up from a Vogue pattern by Frampton’s mother. The vase in the picture made of mahogany, was designed by Frampton himself.

1935 Portrait of a Young Woman

Frampton was elected ARA in 1934 and RA in 1942. His Diploma Work was Still-life. Most years between 1926 and 1945 he exhibited a picture at the RA. His refined and highly finished portraits of attractive young women and men of science and of letters, carefully posed with appropriate accoutrements, were lauded for their psychological intensity and the artist’s personal sense of mystery. Frampton’s overriding concern for formal clarity was paramount, his exceptional ‘clarity of expression’ considered ‘a vehicle for a celebratory delight in the material world.’ Due to failing eyesight Frampton retired from the active exercise of his profession in 1953 and fell into obscurity, but his 1982 Tate retrospective somewhat revived his reputation. He wrote of his own work: ‘I think my principal aim has always been to paint the sort of picture that I would like to own and live with had it been painted by someone else.’ Frampton died in 1984.

1927 Still Life

1929 King George VI

1931 Sir Henry John Newbolt

1932 Still Life

1937 A Game of Patience

1945 Dr. Clive Forster-Cooper

Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Clyfford Still

Clyfford Still (1904 – 1980) was born in 1904 in Grandin, North Dakota. He became a leader in the first generation of Abstract Expressionists that emerged after World War II. Still's contemporaries included Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Philip Guston.

Still attended Spokane University, Washington for a year in 1926 and again from 1931 to 1933. After graduation, he taught at Washington State College in Pullman until 1941. He spent the summers of 1934 and 1935 at the Trask Foundation in Saratoga Springs, New York. From 1941 to 1943, he worked in defence factories in California. In 1943 he had his first one-man exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art, and he met Mark Rothko in Berkeley at this time. In the same year Still moved to Richmond, where he taught at the Richmond Professional Institute.

When Still was in New York in 1945, Rothko introduced him to Peggy Guggenheim, who gave him a one-man exhibition at her Art of This Century gallery in early 1946. Later that year, the artist returned to San Francisco, where he taught for the next four years at the California School of Fine Arts. Solo exhibitions of his work were held at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, in 1947, 1950, and 1951 and at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, in 1947. In New York in 1948, Still worked with Rothko and others on developing the concept of the school that became known as the Subjects of the Artist. He resettled in San Francisco for two years before returning again to New York. A Still retrospective took place at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, in 1959. In 1961, he settled on his farm near Westminster, Maryland.

Solo exhibitions of Still’s paintings were presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1963 and at the Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York in 1969–70. He received the Award of Merit for Painting in 1972 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, of which he became a member in 1978, and the Skowhegan Medal for Painting in 1975. Also in 1975, a permanent installation of a group of his works opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, gave him an exhibition in 1980. Still died that same year in Baltimore.