View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Collins pursued his vision of a lost paradise, destroyed by the mechanisation of the modern world, throughout his lifetime. Creating his own version of archetypal figures, such as the Fool and the Angel, he attempted to reveal to us our innermost selves. These figures, he believed, represented an innocence that had ceased to exist in the ‘Machine Age’ (Keeble, p.73). Many of Collins’s aims and beliefs were published in an essay he titled The Vision of the Fool which was first published in 1947. Throughout the essay Collins links the Fool with the ‘Saint, the artist, the poet (Keeble, p.81). He explains: ‘modern society has succeeded very well in rendering poetic imagination, Art, and Religion, the three magical representatives of life, an heresy; and the living symbol of that heresy is the Fool. The Fool is the poetic imagination of life, as inexplicable as the essence of life itself’ (quoted in Keeble, p.73).
Collins experimented with several different print-making processes, including lithography and roneo printing. This unusual image has been drawn in outline over a ground, and the plate deeply etched. Collins has deliberately created spots over the subtle outlines.
Richard Morphet, The Prints of Cecil Collins, London 1981
William Anderson, Cecil Collins: The Quest for the Great Happiness, London 1988
Judith Collins, Cecil Collins: A Retrospective Exhibition, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1989