Hello! I’m Helen Little, Assistant Curator of Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life.  Since the exhibition opened there have been some great reviews in the press, but I would also like to hear what you think

L.S. Lowry, Early Morning, 1954

L.S. Lowry, Early Morning, 1954

The Cryne / Graham Collection
© The Estate of L.S. Lowry

 If you have visited the show, what was it like seeing these urban scenes and industrial landscapes in person? I’d love to hear what you think about Lowry’s apocalyptic visions of the landscape or his connections to French Impressionism

Have you been able to look afresh at his best known work or have you discovered Lowry for the first time?  Let me know your views, stories and comments below. 

I hope you enjoyed this exhibition of one of Britain’s pre-eminent painters of modern life. You can read more about it on my Lowry blog, where you can also share your views. 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts soon!

Comments

Andi Edan

Have loved Lowry for a long time, mainly through reproductions so this show is a real treat. Although this probably shouldn't have been a surprise, I noted that there are NO BLUE SKIES. Not even in the seaside and funfair paintings, which are the "jolliest" of the lot. Someone said that most of the work was in the north of England which explained the lack of blue skies but I disagree. I think these are the skies in Lowry's mind and they convey what he felt rather than what was actually there. An excellent show. Hope to go again before it ends.

whatdoIknow

Just seen Andi Edan's comment regarding Lowry's skies. Years ago, before the Lowry Centre was built and Salford City Museum and Art Gallery housed the painting Lowry had given to Salford, I recall on one visit speaking to an attendant who said when he was alive Lowry would visit from time to time to "see how the white was getting on". Apparently he mixed his own white and knew it would alter with time and that he knew his skies would change.
I cannot vouch for the truth of this but that is the story this guy told us - around 1980, so it was not long after he had died.

mrmrgd

This is true. I have heard Lowry speaking of this on a TV or radio documentary. He would experiment with whites, leaving some exposed to daylight and some kept out of it for extended periods so that he could judge how his work would look in the future and adjust his mixture accordingly.

Andi Edan

Still, I guess they would never turn blue - just variations of white :-)

Linda@Salisbury

Having lived near Manchester all my early life, I am a huge fan of Lowry and he inspires me to create poetry. The exhibition is wonderful (in the true sense of the word). Thank you.

Val1

We really enjoyed this latest exhibition. To see Lowry's view of the world as it developed and to understand more of the man's history helped to appreciate the art and the artist more. It was moving and unsettling at the same time.

Killer133

I attended this exhibition with twelve friends from our art appreciation group and we were all disappointed. Four of my friends said to me separately that they were depressed by it. It didn't make me feel that way, but honestly, how many paintings of peeps walking in & out of a mill/factory/footie match do I need to see in one day? It left us wondering if Lowry really COULD paint. The sketches prove he could but it was boring. I went fairly quickly through the last two rooms, as I'd seen so many similar works in the first rooms. Rather a shame.

Killer133

I must add that after the Lowry we went to see the Patrick Caulfield exhibition and it lifted all of our spirits. I was expecting to like it (as I was Lowry) but it far exceeded those expectations. What a painter!

ashar goodsall

What makes it all the more disappointing is there is so much more that we never get to see

Primrose

Very well mounted and not too crowded. Difficult to get to text on the wall by the pictures, specially when short sighted.

Mig Bonnefoy

Superb! A really worth while day out and was a unique opportunity to gain a better understanding of this artist. Looking forward to the next one already!

kate hendy

I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition. I spent time investigating his figure which actually say so much although so small and many without detail. Also looked at the palette he used and it is so limited apart from reds to brighten and enhance the painting.

Andi Edan

Lowry's pallet is not limited at all. It is just muted so that when he does use colour, the impact is that much greater. Bit like Morandi's paintings.

janet harris

I thoroughly enjoyed the Lowry exhibition, I have always been a fan remembering the prints on the wall of my primary school many years before. (and me a mere southerner). It was especially interesting to see the archive video footage recording the real factory workers trudging through the northern streets which showed Lowry's interpretation to be surprisingly realistic and perceptive.

ashar goodsall

Not the best exhibition I have seen at the Tate I was hoping for more of the stuff we haven’t seen much of. The landscapes and individual portraits, and whilst this is a very extensive exhibition it has very few surprises.
I have given up my Tate membership as I have found that the exhibitions have become staid and boring. The only one worth seeing in the last few years was the Ashile Gorki. I used to find the take exciting now it is very middle of the road.
Although I did enjoy the new hanging of British artists in the last century very good. but there again some disappointments NO Sandra Blow, Barbara Rae or Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. Yes I know you can’t hang everyone but the women did seem a bit neglected. However i just loved the Francis Bacon triptych brilliantly hung at the end of the gallery.

ashar goodsall

Not the best exhibition I have seen at the Tate I was hoping for more of the stuff we haven’t seen much of. The landscapes and individual portraits, and whilst this is a very extensive exhibition it has very few surprises.
I have given up my Tate membership as I have found that the exhibitions have become staid and boring. The only one worth seeing in the last few years was the Ashile Gorki. I used to find the take exciting now it is very middle of the road.
Although I did enjoy the new hanging of British artists in the last century very good. but there again some disappointments NO Sandra Blow, Barbara Rae or Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. Yes I know you can’t hang everyone but the women did seem a bit neglected. However i just loved the Francis Bacon triptych brilliantly hung at the end of the gallery.

pongo snodgrass

I thought it was a very sharp, well-curated summary of Lowry's work. I was delighted to see the catalogue from the 1976 Royal Academy retrospective which I attended with my mum! I was only eight, but it turned me into a lifelong Lowry fan, in spite of long periods when he was considered to be 'naf'f'.
This exhibition made me look at Lowry's work with fresh eyes. His drawings show that he was a very good draftsman; the room highlighting his influences demonstrate the context in which he was working and the paintings themselves reveal what an eye for composition he had. His best works are elegantly balanced, in contrast to the often harsh subject matter depicted. His colour palette is limited and subtle and depth is achieved through the layering of buildings from foreground through to the far distance.
Lowry's figures range from the crowds of impressionistic 'matchstick men' at football matches and fairs to more fleshed out characters, which I wasn't expecting. The grotesque depiction of disabled people in The Cripples was not as convincing - for me - as that of men marching as one body down the street in a painting in the same room.
Lowry was more than just a chronicler of life in the heavily industrialised cities of the North-West: he saw beauty where few others did, and truth in the humblest environments.
I can't wait to take my sons to the exhibition next week and see what they make of it!

Rene Chang

Went to see the Lowry exhibition with a friend yesterday. Liked Lowry's easily recognisable crowd scenes of football matches, although I am not sure of their social significance. After all the Romans invented mass games to anaesthetise the working people. I also like the picture of Piccadilly Circus although it is out of date (painted in the 20s) as the fountain has been shifted to the right. Although I did enjoy the exhibition I am not sure of Lowry as a worker's painter. also having lived in London all my life and not having been to Manchester, I cannot judge the paintings of named places in Manchester. Some of the pencil and paper work were quite detailed and exquisite.

Paul Evans

The Lowry exhibition was, for me, of great interest as I have an interest industrial archaeology and the works are an insight and record (rarely illustrated elsewhere) of the reality of the social effects of the industrial revolution. The exhibition gave a much broader and rounded view of Lowry’s work and I enjoyed them all. However the landscapes were of particular note. Personally, coming from a background of the Welsh Valleys those Welsh scenes were particularly interesting. The hill (as described in the note next to the painting) in Bargoed 1965 is most probably a coal slag heap as this is a typical shape of such. It represents a scene still in the memories of many and perhaps a presentiment of the Aberfan disaster of 1966 – a very moving image indeed.
I thank the Tate for arranging such a comprehensive collection of Lowry’s work.

Brenda Soskin

I really enjoyed the exhibition and found it both informative and thought provoking. One comment I would like to pass on is that there were a couple of very young babies in prams with their mums and grandmothers who constantly screamed throughout and were not taken outside. There were also some young toddlers running amok. Can I suggest that children under the age of three are not admitted. At their young age they couldn't appreciate the exhibition and really spoilt it for the rest of us who were looking forward to a peaceful time.

OFVCAT

The main positive I took from the exhibition was an appreciation of the variety of Lowry’s work. There were some very strange paintings, like “The Cripples”, where matchstick men gave way to better fed but horribly deformed figures. There were also the broader urban landscapes of his later years, where the people seemed less important than the environment. I used the audio guide but found it disappointing. At times it was a bit trite: “here is a man confident in the use of materials”. Also there were discussions of morality and politics which were unconvincing on the whole. Generally an afternoon well spent however.

bonaccord

I visited the exhibition yesterday afternoon but found the rooms too crowded to really appreciate the paintings or see them properly. I will visit the exhibition again.

I have seen many of the paintings before, either in reproduction or in the Lowry gallery in Salford. I don't rate him as a great artist but it is good to have such a wide selection of his paintings together in one place.

The Patrick Caulfield exhibition which had almost no viewers when I was there in the morning was much more to my taste with many vibrant, large, colourful paintings.

vivbeard

Very enjoyable exhibition. We really appreciated the introduction with the historical significance.

Peter Earley

We loved the exhibition but a bit disappointed that there were none of his seascapes or some of his 'blacker' pictures such as Ann.

Templar

Took the member's 9-10am tour for Lowry and so could look long and quietly––I hope that Klee has the same facility. Some of the early and many of the smaller paintings had a deliberately 'painterly' character, with variations in texture and mark making that the bigger industrial scene paintings seemed to avoid. In their repetitive imagery these industrial scenes made me think of medieval and renaissance tapestries, objects designed to furnish rooms with apt (but not visually intrusive) mythologies. I tried to imagine what buildings, what occupiers, might have commissioned these. Not Harold Wilson, though the link was made; not industrial tycoons, though the Festival of Britain tried to be a classless palace of industry for all.

A horrid afterthought: musing on Lowry's comic formulae of lugubrious human glyphs led me, not (as I'd hoped) to Orwell, but to Grayson Perry's gleeful ghastly tapestries of taste heirarchies. Alas! there is a link.

Carybaz

I liked the exhibition more than I expected to, having long had a fairly stereotypical notion of Lowry's work and probably not seen that much of it. I was particularly taken with the introductory section that demonstrated his closeness to the Impressionists, especially Utrillo and Pizarro. The two things that struck me, that I have never thought about before, was his extensive use of white, and his meticulous presentation of buildings, using ruler-straight lines but also, I think, contradictory perspectives. The film extract showing his at work was very informative and I'd have loved to have seen more of it. After seeing him paint in a dog in about 4 seconds, I kept on noticing his dogs thereafter! I was least interested in the big paintings in the last room: they seemed tired and repetitive. And I agree with other commentators that it would have been good to see a bit of his other work eg portraits.

Jane Darougar

I loved this exhibition and have re-visited several times, extraordinarily relevant to austerity Britain - the debt collection, eviction and environmental concerns - all sadly current. The audio commentary was fascinating, giving a context to the artist and his work.

I was devasted to read today that the Tate employs staff on zero hours contracts, an unethical and appalling way to treat it's staff. Disappointing from such an organisation.

Gus Grillo

It was fascinating with some wonderful pictures but I think I'd prefer chronological showing with a little more information about the man himself

Tamlyn Worrall

It is a vast exhibition with so many works - a good 3 hours is needed to fully appreciate. I knew very little about Lowry (although watched the Review Show when it was featured) and felt far more informed by the time I came to end of the exhibition. I particularly enjoyed the Timeline at the beginning of the exhibition placing Lowry's works firmly in context. I wish more galleries would do this. It was an excellent, rich exhibition.

I would have liked more explanation of the development of his work (although it was obvious that a painting from 1925 differed little from one from 1952). My only comment may be that it is a little too long perhaps so that by the time one reaches the Festival of Britain series, one's energy is flagging!

Huw Jones

By the third room of Lowry’s imagined townscapes and stick figures, I’d had enough and moved quickly through the other rooms. He gave some sense of crowd dynamics, but deliberately reduced his working class people to anonymous stick figures, showing misery through pollution and monotony. A few sketches showed he could ‘do’ figures properly and his South Wales works at least gave some spatial variability from his regular square on buildings. These prompted me to stroll through the galleries to Josef Herman’s ‘Three Miners’. The two shared an exhibition early in the 1950s, but the contrast between two painters of the working class could not be greater. Herman set his solid, dignified men and women in the proper landscapes of Ystradgynlais in the Swansea Valley with its canals, bridges, lampposts, sunsets and shadows. Lowry’s repetitively imagined version of Salford is populated by stylised, characterless clones of himself. I know which I prefer - perhaps you should consider a Herman retrospective?

Huw Jones

An afterthought. In the Henning Mankell novels, Wallander's father regularly painted the same landscape from the same angle, sometimes with a grouse, sometimes without. Lowry regularly painted the same industrial scene from the same angle, sometimes with a dog, sometimes without.

Scottie

An interesting exhibition about an artist who most of us think we know well but probably don’t. Room one is a strong starting point but room two, where Lowry is compared with other artists who influenced him (Van Gogh, Pissaro & his master Adolphe Valette), greatly informed the context of his early years.
Other highlights are his drawings & the way in which this conservative man reacted to the arrival of the Welfare State.
The only (increasingly) annoying thing was the George Formby song played on a loop - audible almost throughout the exhibition.

Stefnwolf

I enjoyed the show particularly the industrial scenes and a real favourite was the empty house it had a real bleakness about it. My only disappointment was the lack of portraits like the girl from front and from the back & Head of a Man but part from that its great to see Lowry at Tate Britain. I will be back for a second look.

DavidKH

Great exhibition! It broadened my understanding of Lowry himself as well as giving me an appreciation that his work was a lot more than 'matchstick men & matchstick cats and dogs'. But on the subject of matchstick men, why was it that in his 'mass of humanity' scenes, the vast majority of the individuals are leaning to the left?

Julia Matcham

Second time around, and I enjoyed it even more. I still hate the silly George Formby (was it) music. It interferes with using ones eyes. It is irritating hearing people making out that his work is just one big cliche when actually it is very subtle and sometimes has a real abstract WOW factor. The only ones I didn't like were the big ones in the last room that he was commissioned to do. The one with the pool was OK but the others looked like he hadn't got his heart in doing them. Once again...pity not to have shown some of his portraits and other work; it might have helped some people to understand that 'stick men' is not what he is about!

Huw Jones

If 'stick men' are not what he is about, why are 90% of the pictures in the exhibition of this genre? Those that I liked most were the few pencil sketches showing real figures or South Wales landscapes set in a real environment that broke away from the monotonous head on views of imagined townscapes.

Vygotsky

As a huge fan of Lowry's paintings and drawings I was very much looking forward to visiting this exhibition as I try to visit every exhibition of his work. I was delighted that there were a number of paintings that were new to me and it was exciting to see the five large panoramic views of the city exhibited in one room that enabled me to fully appreciate the scale and power of these images. However, I left feeling the exhibition, based on the narrow title 'Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life' was quite one dimensional as it did not allow observers the opportunity to explore the many facets of Lowry and his work that includes his fabulous seascapes, enigmatic portraits, great sense of humour and quirkiness. Also, I was disappointed that Lowry's regular visits to Cumberland were not fully represented in the exhibition as his many paintings of West Cumbria warranted inclusion; an exhibition at Abbot Hall gallery in Kendal, Cumbria captured the solitary nature of his work that was quite moving. Maybe the Tate exhibition concentrated more on the paintings and drawings instead of allowing us to see and understand the man who created them?

GrahamAHunter

I have never felt much affection for Lowry's paintings but in my eyes this exhibition does much for his reputation. I would describe it as small scale on a grand scale. Lowry gnaws away at familiar subjects time and time again. His urban landscapes literally littered with vignettes of small and large gatherings, or isolated huddled figures. His intense observation of people in certain time and place their work and play exposing the relentless repetition of a life hard lived.
Lowry surprised me with his command of his medium and his subject; the paintings are oddly beautifully painted not bleak, with the ground alive and layered under mill and works, street and houses. Glimpses of under painting moving the eye around as expertly as the few sure marks and dashes he uses to hone a figure. Tate Britain deserves a pat on the back because this exhibition achieves everything for Lowry in terms of raising his stock, which the recent exhibition at the Royal Academy, wholly failed to do for Manet.

David Houlton

I regard myself as an enthusiast for Lowry and I have a romantic attachment to his work having grown up in an industrial northern city in the 50s in neighbourhoods very similar to those he reflects. I thought I was reasonably familiar with him through following numerous TV documentaries over the years and visiting the gallery at Salford Quays. The Tate retrospective took me to a new level and I feel privileged to have had the chance to see it. The collection was carefully sequenced to reflect his main themes, influences and techniques. The parallels with other European painters gave a strong insight into the times and social contexts in which he was working as too did the excellent commentary in the audio guide. I'm always surprised to be reminded that he was a Tory. How could somebody with such an empathetic awareness of working class life espouse those values? This, of course, was largely down to family influences and the show helped the visitor understand these. I'd love to get to see it again before it comes to a close but, if this isn't possible, I'lI cherish the day's memories for as long as I'm around.

Mark Hustwitt

I'm not a fan of Lowry - I went to see the disappointingly small Caulfield exhibition and popped in to see if Lowry held any surprises - which it did. It seemed to me his landscapes were better without his "trademark" people in. Like Turner Lowry seems incapable of painting people - the hospital and special school paintings showed just how much he reduced people to archetypes.

There was a stunning painting of a huge, dark and bleak church towering over the streets, a drawing of a road that lead over a hill - but what lay on the other side? A lot of the pictures re-enforced my prejudices but if I'd had more time I suspect I'd have been intrigued by his breadth.

John Arnold

A delightful exhibition - for so many reasons. Despite "liking" Lowry's paintings for their simple visual appeal, I have always found it difficult to "get" him. Now, I'm so much closer. The exhibition showed him to be so much more than just a recorder of "grime & grind up North" ... instead, a commentator, as the years went by, on poverty, industrialisation, industrial legacy, & the hopes of the welfare state. The judicious inclusion of the works by Vallette, van Gogh, Corot, & Pissaro helped so much, for me, in placing him in his historic, social, and artistic contexts.
The large landscapes - in particular, the view of Bargoed - were splendid masterpieces with which to finish the exhibition. Nor can I forget, from the earlier rooms, the bleak "St Augustine's Church, Pendlebury", and the ghostly "Speculators" - works which revealed, for me, depths in LSL of which I had previously been unaware.
Strangely, the Outpatients' Hall at Ancoats resembled, in an uncanny way, the Outpatients' Hall at the old Radcliffe Infirmary, in my own home city of Oxford: perhaps, in the early 1950s, it was just as grim "down South" as it was "up North"!
I must add a special word of thanks for the audio(& partly visual)-guide: it was pithy & concise - and simply superb.
I look forward to visiting again.

clareangela

Didn't envy the picture caption writers in this exhib, repetitive paintings to say the least. I have a vague personal connection with the artist so I have an interest and respect for his art, yet I cannot believe that he could be classed as an English Impressionist. If he had died in 1940, he would have been remembered as one of our greats, but he continued to produce caricatures of the north and northern life, long after it had changed which has been detrimental to his art historical memory.

BUT the Ruined Landscape room. My goodness, this was the first time his passion jumped off the canvas. A pity he didn't explore those themes further.

Bazzerman

A fantastic exhibition. I found it very illuminating have pictures of his French contemporaries there as well as his teacher Vallette. I shall definitely go again before the end in October.

LizzieHB

I really enjoyed the exhibition. Although it was crowded it was easy to see the exhibits. It was very interesting seeing the examples of work by the artists who influenced his work along side some of his work in the second room and I didn't realise how much he had been influenced by his teacher Adolphe Valette.

I spent ages looking at the wonderful expressions on the faces of people in the paintings such as the Prayer meeting and the Cripples.

I really loved his pencil, chalk and pastel drawings which I hadn't seen before. and probably my favourite was the landscape and particularly.

Marion Milroy

I've been to the Lowry in Salford three times in the last year and was able to see the additional works added to the gallery on Monday 5th August. I love going to the Lowry as there are many 'angry' portraits which you just know belies the emotional turmoil beneath the mackintoshed exterior.
At the Tate I had to ask twice after being misinformed by the male cloakroom attendant where, as a ticket holder, the exhibition was.
I finally reachedmy destination just as my allocated 30 mins beyond my slot was coming to a close!
My first impressions were it was the first day of a sale as Room One was rammed and people were standing three deep in front of each work so I went to the final room and worked backwards.This worked well as I was going against the flow and I was grateful the curation wasn't chronological!!
I think I enjoyed it (I'll need to reflect a bit more) but I think I felt over-faced as there was so much that was similar and it lacked the depth that a few of his portraits would have given to this otherwise comprehensive exhibition
The comemorative beer in the gift shop was inspired!
Husband drank the beer and I got the bottle!

robn7777777

Very enjoyable. Having grown up in an ex-mill town in Lancashire and also being mid way through Hobsbawn's Age of Revolution I found the paintings' perspective on the built environment and their rendition of social history fascinating.

I also learned that Lowry was a Tory and for me this was like discovering a missing link that helped explain why his paintings seem to dehumanise the ant like working people that often populate them. Or maybe it was just his limitations as a painter?

I liked the painting of the Protest March, you can actually see his attempts at faces as the march moves towards him. I'm really glad that he painted these times. The built environment - even at this stage well after the introduction of public utilities - looks toxic to mind, body and soul and brought to mind Engel's descriptions of industrialisation in Manchester a century earlier. The figures look stooped and disfigured.

I hope to visit again, a second viewing is when I start noticing detail.

johnnyrsb

I think I may be one of the few people who left with a lower opinion of Lowry. Yes, he is an interesting character and he is historically important for the way he looked and commented on the working conditions of the industrial north.

His painting is interesting but it is all the same. In fairness the exhibition says this at the start. I really enjoyed the first room and was impressed by the oversized chimneys and the stooped rows of people travelling to the factory, or to the football. You could feel the sheep like nature of industrial workers and the awful conditions which reduce them to this state.

It was also interesting to see the scenes of poverty and illness which was shown in other paintings too. But apart from breaking it up with a weak Van Gogh and a couple of other masters really Lowry only knew one way to paint and by room 6 I was, to be frank a bit bored of it all.

I think it is admirable that Tate has given a long overdue study of Lowry but in hindsight maybe it would have been better to have continued what was started in room 2 and delivered it in context with others of his time?

Y Truscott

We visited the Lowry on Wednesday 7th August. The show was well curated and hung though very busy from 2.30 onwards. I specially enjoyed Room 2 with comparisons with other artists, and the last room with the panoramas shown together.
I grew up in the West Riding of Yorkshire when the manufacturing base was failing so feel an affinity with the subject matter.
However, an overheard conversation between two Home Counties ladies was both amusing and slightly worrying since their reactions revealed that the show was acting for them as a strong reinforcement of stereotypical attitudes to "The North!" Unavoidable?
Nevertheless, we greatly enjoyed our visit.
New hang--very good but needs more signage near the end. We couldn't find the way out!
Yvonne and David Truscott

Natalie Sayer

Thought the display was brilliant and exceptionally well hung, but my own personal outcome was learning that I believe Lowry's work is dreadful. As visual social commentary it has a place, but as 'art' it's on a par with Beryl Cook.

But, before the display I had no opinion either way on Lowry, so it was fabulous to experience so much of his work and get the chance to form my own (no doubt unpopular) opinion.

The only hiccup with the show was confusion going in. People in the queue became mixed up with people just looking at the timeline on the wall, and I witnessed quite a few heated exchanges.

timbo

I didn't expect to get very much out of the Lowry exhibition - his work is so familiar etc, but I was really surprised how much I enjoyed seeing his work in this excellent collection! I thought his use of colour and eye for composition was masterful, and the way he used the paint - especially on those murky pools of water etc! I did find his matchstick figures a bit tiresome, but thought the later works were much more successful. I think he's a great British Artist! Also really loved the Patrick Caulfield and the 'Walk through British Art'. There's some BRILLIANT stuff at Tate Britain at the moment - thank you!

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