Michael Andrews

A Man who Suddenly Fell Over

1952

Artist
Michael Andrews 1928–1995
Medium
Oil paint on hardboard
Dimensions
Support: 1206 x 1727 mm
frame: 1380 x 1890 x 70 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1958
Reference
T00169

On loan to: Museo Picasso Málaga (Malaga, Spain)

Exhibition: School of London

Display caption

In common with much of Andrews's work this picture is partly autobiographical. It was painted for his Diploma Examination shortly before leaving the Slade School of Art to face a period of uncertainty. He later commented that this painting was 'about the complete upsetting of someone's apparently secure equilibrium and about their most immediate efforts at recovery and their attempt to conceal that they have perhaps been badly hurt or upset'. This might explain why the man seems to grin instead of crying out in shock. The image of the body destablised in space was of interest to a number of artists in the 1950s, including Francis Bacon and Anthony Caro.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

T00169 A MAN WHO SUDDENLY FELL OVER 1952
 
Not inscribed.
Oil on hardboard, 47 1/2×68 (121×173).
Purchased from the Beaux Arts Gallery (Cleve and Knapping Funds) 1958.
Exh: Young Painters, I.C.A., October–November 1952 (2); Arts Council, Six Young Painters, 1956 (3); Beaux Arts Gallery, January 1958 (2).
Repr: Studio, CXLVII, 1954, p.169.

Painted in London in 1952. The artist wrote (16 July 1958): ‘About the picture. I didn't see it happen as far as I can remember though I have seen big people fall down. It's a catastrophe and as stunning and bewildering as the fable of the sky falling always seemed to me to be. It's about the complete upsetting of someone's apparently secure equilibrium and about their almost immediate efforts at recovery and their attempt to conceal that they have perhaps been badly hurt or upset which would only be allowed to show if they were by themselves.’

A drawing for the woman's head belongs to Sir William Coldstream and the artist also made an etching of the falling man.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I