Catalogue entry

T02327 FULCRUM 1939

Inscribed ‘John Tunnard 39’ b.r.
Oil and graphite pencil on hardboard, 17 1/2 × 32 (44.5 × 81.3)
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1978
Prov: Bequeathed by the artist to Peter Tunnard from whom bought by the Chantrey Trustees 1978
Exh: John Tunnard, Guggenheim Jeune, March–April 1939 (22, price 30 guineas); British Surrealist and Abstract Painting, Northampton Art Gallery, July–August 1939 (10, price 14 guineas); British Art and the Modern Movement 1930–40, Arts Council exhibition, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, October–November 1962 (57); Art in Britain 1930–40 centred around Axis, Circle and Unit One, Marlborough Fine Art, March–April 1965 (162, repr.); John Tunnard, Hartnoll and Eyre, April 1971 (7, repr.); John Tunnard 1900–1971, Arts Council exhibition, RA Diploma Gallery, March–April 1977 (18, repr.) and subsequent tour to Kettles Yard Cambridge, Kettering Art Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle and Newlyn Art Gallery; Dada and Surrealism Reviewed, Hayward Gallery; January–March 1978 (14.52, repr.)
Lit: Mark Glazebrook, catalogue of 1977 Arts Council Exhibition John Tunnard 1900–1971, p.25
Repr: London Bulletin, No. 18–20, June 1940, p.27

According to Mark Glazebrook (op. cit.) the first extant ‘nonrepresentational’ work by John Tunnard, a watercolour ‘Two birds, one pebble, one boulder’ suggesting abstraction from natural forms, dates from 1935. A watercolour of 1937 (Mark Glazebrook op. cit. p.24) has suggestions of natural and man-made objects joined by wires. In ‘Fulcrum’ objects appear to be man-made rather than natural and the wires are taut. Glazebrook quotes a reviewer of the exhibition at Guggenheim Jeune in 1939, where ‘Fulcrum’ was shown, as referring to Tunnard as ‘the Heath Robinson of the Constructivist movement.’

The exhibition of Tunnard's work at Hartnoll and Eyre in 1971 included the, Tate picture as well as another work entitled ‘Fulcrum’ (17 × 33 inches) dating from 1960.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981