Prunella Clough 1919-1999

Artist biography

English painter, draughtsman and printmaker. She attended the Chelsea School of Art in London (1938–9), but when her studies were interrupted by World War II she became an engineer's draughtsman and mapper (1940–45). Her early work is characterised by the proletarian subject-matter of labour and the urban landscape described within a narrow tonal range. Towards the end of her life she became regarded largely as an abstractionist, but her work always retained a figurative base, as if form had been filtered through memory. During the 1950s she introduced plant motifs into her urban scenes. In the late 1960s Clough's style became even freer in terms of colour and scale, but it still revealed her continuing fascination with the ‘edginess' of form, the sudden intrusion of hard shapes into softer areas. From 1946 to 1951 Clough produced etchings, lithographs and paintings of fishermen and dockers in London, East Anglia and the industrial Midlands. Lowestoft Harbour (1951; London, AC England Col.), included in the Festival of Britain's 60 Paintings for '51 exhibition, shows figures depicted in a style derived from Cubism and displays Clough's primary and lasting preoccupation with the potential for abstraction in flatness of form. Later pictures such as Samples (1997; London, AC England Col.) describe colourful objects in shallow space with playful tonal gradations that suggest movement. Prunella Clough was the winner of the 1999 Jerwood Prize for painting.

Prunella Clough: A Retrospective Exhibition (exh. cat. by B. Robertson, London, Whitechapel A.G., 1960)
Prunella Clough (exh. cat., ed. J. Drew; London, Serpentine Gal., 1976)
Prunella Clough (exh. cat., essays J. Collins and S. Craddock, London, Camden A. Cent., 1996)
Prunella Clough (exh. cat. by E. Hill, Cambridge, U. Cambridge, Kettle's Yard, 1999)

10 December 2000

Article provided by Grove Art Online