Paul Nash

Kinetic Feature

1931

On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 660 x 508 mm
frame: 673 x 825 x 90 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1965
Reference
T00734

Display caption

Paul Nash's visit to Léonce Rosenberg's gallery in Paris in 1930 led him to re-evaluate the European Modern Movement. Subsequently he promoted it tirelessly, through various publications and the Unit One group, which he founded with Ben Nicholson in 1933. Unit One was a short-lived organisation of English artists and architects dedicated to Modernism. It operated out of the Mayor Gallery in London.

This picture was shown at the 1933 exhibition and was reproduced in the Unit One book published in 1934. It is a rare example of Nash's experiments with abstraction inspired by the Ecole de Paris.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

Paul Nash 1889–1946

T00734 Kinetic Feature 1931

Inscr. ‘Paul Nash 1931.’ b.r. and ‘Paul Nash’ b.l. (obscure).
Oil on canvas, 26 x 20 (66 x 50.5).
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1965.
Coll: Mrs. Paul Nash; The Paul Nash Trust.
Exh: Exposition Internationale d’Art Moderne, Brussels, 1935 (750); Leicester Galleries, May–June 1938 (36); Gordon Fraser Gallery, Cambridge, 1939 (3); Modern Paintings and Drawings by British Artists, British Council, Greek House, February 1943 (28); Paul Nash and Barbara Hepworth, Temple Newsam House, Leeds, 1943 (18); Cheltenham Art Gallery, June–July 1945 (5); Tate Gallery, March–May 1948 (34, repr.); Leicester Galleries, May 1953 (29); Art in Britain 1930–40, Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., March–April 1965 (102, repr.).
Lit: Margot Eates (ed.), Paul Nash, London, 1948, p. 78, repr. pl. 61 (in colour); Anthony Bertram, Paul Nash, London, 1955, pp. 214, 322.
Repr: Herbert Read (ed.), Unit One, 1934, p. 84; Sir John Rothenstein, Paul Nash, 1961, facing colour plate 6.

‘Kinetic Feature’ is one of Nash’s few nearly abstract pictures. Another, ‘Opening’, also dates from 1931. In a letter to Cecil Collins in 1944 Nash described his work of the 1930–33 period as ‘Abstract and “near” abstract forms and patterns ... The work here comes along from Northern Adventure and Dead Spring… 1929 through a period of architectonic design expressed in various ways. It includes the Urne Buriall book and reaches the point of the Mansions of the Dead drawings and painting. This section shows the break from “interpretative” landscape and still life painting to the experiments in non-figurative design or “near” abstract which coincided practically with so called “Surrealist” content.’ (Bertram, op. cit., p. 214.)

‘Kinetic Feature’ was painted, or at least finished, at Rye, where Nash moved in December 1930.

On the back of the canvas is an unfinished version of the ‘St. Pancras Lilies’ of 1927 (Ulster Museum, Belfast).

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1964–1965, London 1966.