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

bbradley

Really impressed by this exhibition. I've always enjoyed Lowry's work but never looked deeper into his life, his broader portfolio or his style. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the work I was seeing for the first time and, if I'm honest, it came as a surprise that his canvases were so small.

On a practical note, I would almost certainly have come earlier in the season if I'd known how busy it was going to be in the latter days. The footfall in the rooms was quite intense when I visited and that certainly detracted from the experience. Nevertheless, congratulations on delivering such a fab show.

John Beavis

I don't want to seem either petty or personal, but some people's comments are just plain stupid - and Sid Stace's comments are right up there with the most banal I've ever read. What exhibition did you actually go and see????? You should've kept your money - and your opinion.

John Arnold

Responding to John Beavis ... Thank you, John, for writing those few wise words. For weeks, I've been reading simply daft entries on this blog; but have been reluctant to comment, as nobody else seemed to be reacting to the inanities! You've persuaded me, John, to break my silence.
What has irked me most has been the regular complaint that there were no portraits or seascapes in the exhibition. For pity's sake, the exhibition was advertised as "Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life". The clue's in the title: it was not a "retrospective".
Then, there's the moan that his works are repetitive. What on earth is wrong with being single-minded - even obsessive?
Yes - his palette was limited ... but so many artists have, like Lowry, achieved so much with limited palettes, or with repeated use of one or two favourite pigments.
It comes down, I reckon, to a visual-art equivalent of that regular, and ridiculous, aberration of literary criticism - blaming Dickens for not being Dostoevsky.
I was moved by Mr Lowry's paintings. I saw beauty and ugliness - both expressed with disarming simplicity. That's good enough for me - and this opportunity to see so many of these fine works was most welcome.

johnnyrsb

Congratulations John you have been both petty and personal. At least Sid has some opinions to post. Your ignorant and narrow minded comments are not appreciated, free speech is.

I have previously commented that the exhibition has some merit but is limited. I think Sid has every right to voice his opinion and it is you who should remain silent or voice an opinion of your own. Shame on you.

Banky Moon

I couldn't add much to the many apposite comments already posted about the quality of this exhibition, but I have to congratulate whoever was responsible for the pre-downloadable iOS/Android app. This has been such an obviously idea for a long time.... I rarely hire the equipment at the door but would always buy the app in advance.

Des

Wonderful exhibition!
I visited several times and could probably now recite word for word "The day that father said he'd pay the rent" by George Formby's dad. I wonder what Lowry would make of all the fuss? He was a real treasure. I shall now have to make a pilgrimage UP NORTH to Salford to discover a little more about the great man.

Puddle O'Paint

After several forced postponements, I managed to see the wonderful Lowry show on its penultimate day. Being able to simply wander into even the most popular and heavily subscribed exhibitions at one's convenience is perhaps the greatest advantage of Tate membership; take note all you hesitant ponderers, it really is worth the small investment - and, like the RA, you never know who you may spot in the the members' room.

Back to the Lowry gig. Before adding my own insignificant thoughts, I skimmed through some of the earlier offerings and was pleased to see that LSL is still uniting and dividing opinion, as was the case during my visit: it was almost as interesting to hear the comments of my fellow viewers about them as to study the paintings themselves.

Would the single-minded LS have given a flying toss either way about what people thought of his work? I think not. Let those of us who admire it and feel enriched by it continue to enjoy that tingle of affection it generates in our collective being. And those with a slightly more vinegar view? Thank you at least for expressing it, thereby demonstrating that Lowry's work, like all significant art will, generates healthy intellectual friction long after its creation: will I be able to offer such an observation in forty years about some of the 'art' being spoon-fed to us at present? Absolutely not, for one ultimately inescapable reason: most of it is teeth-grinding tosh. The sooner this present generation of mindless fashion-followers wake up to that, thereby committing such tripe to oblivion, the better.

Did I mention that I am referring to so-called 'Brit Art?" No? Oh, bugger. Well, the cat's out of the bag now...

Phew. I love a good rant.

Bless you LSL, you could PAINT. You established your palette and your motifs in 1913 and, whilst ever ready to own up to, endorse and adopt the influence of others, you remained steadfast to those key elements of your work.

Pete Baker

Awesome. It's unlikely we will ever see so many Lowry paintings together again during our lifetimes. Perhaps not to everyone's taste, but to me Lowry is the greatest artist that ever lived. Neither photograph like nor impressionist, the paintings lie somewhere between the two that is uniquely Lowry.

"Coming from the Mill" is the quintessential Lowry painting. It epitomises everything that is Lowry: the classic mill town landscape, totally industrialised with textile mills, factories and smoking chimneys and Lowryesque figures scurrying about in the foreground.

The paintings tell a story whilst giving the viewer a social history of life in industrialised Britain during the first half of the twentieth century. Some depict accidents or tragedies that affected people at the time. "The Fever Van" is particularly poignant. Others reflect the general hardship of everyday life. Lowry was not judgemental, he just committed to art the realities if life. And there were also happier aspects to people's lives and these are illustrated by Lowry in paintings such as "VE Day", "Going to the Match", and "Saturday Afternoon", proving he was not just doom and gloom.

A fantastic exhibition, well presented and well organised. Really glad I came. Thank you Tate.

John Arnold

Hear, hear, Pete!

One of those exhibitions that will be remembered, and spoken about, for a long time to come.

gtb

Very much enjoyed the Lowry exhibition ! Perfectly sized, layout excellent plus informative texts in each room were just right, not too short not too long ! Only thing, as usual, too many people but then it was a Saturday and the day before the end of the exhibition, and I do realise you need affluence ... so this isn't a criticism just an observation. However, I do find these people with headphone-commentary should be told to be considerate of other people and not stand in front of a picture for a long time blocking other people's view !

History buff

I was disappointed that the exhibition did not include more of Lowry's paintings of non-industrial scenes. Lowry had regular holidays at Berwick-on-Tweed where he said his recreation was "drifting amongst all the back streets .. I can come across" and produced over 30 drawings and paintings of the Berwick area. There is a Lowry Trail around the town so that you see the pictures that Lowry painted at the very sites, including several of the sea and sands. This exhibition had only one picture of Berwick - the town hall. I therefore think that it did not fully reflect "the painting of modern life" since it did not cover the non-industrial scenes.

artlover

Really appreciated the thought and care that went into this exhibition. Finally, a blockbuster show curated with flair and intelligence. Loved the video excerpts (though could have done with more of Lowry actually painting), and the small selection of work by Valette and other French artists was perfectly done. Might also have been interesting to compare Lowry's technique and his fascination with white backgrounds with Turner's light effects. And the quotes - Richard Hoggart and others - were all thought-provoking. I would have liked to know more about Lowry's own views, eg the few paintings featuring dark, dominant churches suggested he didn't think too much of organised religion either. But a cracking show overall. Well done Tate Britain.

Tom McLaughlan

I really enjoyed the exhibition - my first one as a member - and blogged about it here afterwards http://ministract.com/blog/2013/10/20/lowry. The multi media guide was excellent. Many thanks. Next stop the Klee :)

SidF

I felt the chronological progression was an excellent way to present Lowry's work. My father ( and his father) had a pharmacy in Ordsall Lane, Salford so in the 1950's this was my neighbourhood. Lowry very successfully recreates the atmosphere of the mixture of industrial buildings, 2 up 2 down terraced housing and waste land ( probably from WWII) that I remember. I remember too the lack of shadows. Even on the sunniest day, it was not possible to be sunburnt in Manchester, the atmosphere was so polluted and the sky a leaden grey/yellow rather than blue. However, I don't remember the crowds ( apart from football at Old Trafford) and they had probably decreased in the 50s as employment patterns changed.
Lowry has left us with a wonderful pictorial archive of the largely vanished world that was the end of the Industrial Revolution in the UK. It deserves to be permanently on show to remind future generations of the lives of the people who built industrial Britain.

DavidARTReed

BLOG: Lowry at Tate Britain

Hi there,

First a very general comment: Its tile: Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life title was a bit odd, Lowry and the Painting of the Industrial Revolution might have been more apt, or do you think it's still like this in the North!?

Also (and I may not have diligently read all the texts), I think some information on what his background was would have been interesting; he worked as a rent collector, but I presume his time in college was supported in some other way, by his family I imagine ... and who inspired him to go into art in the first place?

But I thought the show was very interesting and was impressed by many of the captions which took us behind or deeper into the various works, although my hackles were raised by the intro to the first room which talked about "a red London double-decker;" we had buses in Manchester you know, and they were red, my Dad drove them!

But this chimes in with the fact that Lowry was more widely recognised in Paris than London, are things really still the same? Is there still a London-centric view operating? I believe this was the first major London show of Lowry's work, and he's been dead nearly half a century! Still, the art world didn't even recognise the magnificence of Vincent van Gogh while he was alive ...

I would have liked to have more details on where the various scenes were, but I think most (like the paintings in the last room), were re-imagined rather than being actual places. A contemporary map of the region might have helped even Mancunians such as myself (well, Stockport actually!).

I was especially interested to see works by (mainly French) painters who had influenced Lowry more than I had realised.

Also of interest was the Room 5 Social life of Labour Britain, even if it showed Lowry up for being a Tory supporter! How could he be, when he saw the poverty first-hand and saw the impact that ill health had on the community, while he clearly recognised the attempts people made to improve their lives (look at the neat net curtains in nearly all his pictures!)?

The last room with larger scale later works was especially interesting to me. Here, I read, most of his landscapes were re-imaginings rather than actual scenes which, in a way, I feel lessens his works.

So although I enjoyed the show, my end feelings are more in line with Brian Sewell's than I like(!): Lowry was not a top-rank artist, but he did document a world which very few others even thought about. And his dogs are wonderful!

David R.

Tilburn63

Thoroughly enjoyed the Lowry exhibition at the Tate. Have always loved his work, having come from industrial Lancashire, worn clogs as a child, and spent many hours in later years visiting exhibitions of Lowry's work. This must be the best! Well laid out, with many interesting video clips and original documents. A real taste of industrial scenes, and the landscapes and earlier works for which he is lesser known. I particularly enjoyed seeing the earlier influences on his work.

hsarah@btopewor...

This was a superb exhibition. It deepened my understanding of the artist and placed in context some of my favourite paintings. Wanting to visit the exhibition pushed me in to Tate membership which I had been contemplating for a while. I look forward to Klee next.

mommiecat

Having prepared myself for the fact that Lowry's work would not leave one with a light heart, there was so very much "sameness", and it was almost overwhelming, a very long afternoon - I was beginning to feel like one of his factory workers. The exhibition was more a social statement of the time than a display of artistic creativity, and I can see that I am not alone in preferring to see a wider range of Lowry's talents. It's difficult to appreciate, never mind enjoy and reflect, an exhibition in such a crowded environment - perhaps better monitoring of the number of visitors allowed within the space could have afforded more enjoyment for everyone involved.

Gwilym Hooson

Hi. Though wonderful, I was privileged to be able to put the Paintings into rare context with regard to Lowry's portraits and pencil drawings, which I saw in the Lowry theatre, Salford the previous week. These were, as i understood from the excellent curated talk, only made available to the gallery there as a result of the Tate's requiring so many of the Salford gallery's paintings for this exhibition.
The central Manchester gallery has some wonderful examples of his teacher's work. Very influenced by the impressionists, he nevertheless had a mastery of drawing with which he impressed, evidently, Lowry. This was not readily evident in your exhibition.
none the less, a wonderful display. The landscapes portrayed Wales in a grim light, and were worth the visit alone.
Congratulations to all concerned.

Xana Mason

It was really interesting and fascinating to see how the paintings change with the times. The film clip showing his dog drawings was amusing. I didn't know about the influences on his work from the industrial north and other painters. Well worth the visit.

sassywench

I found the exhibition quite overwhelming, so many stunning originals. I was particularly struck by the differences between the frames on the private pieces, plain and understated that were loaned to the exhibition and the gallery owned pieces, some were so elaborate. I especially loved St Simon's Church, such a dark, bleak piece and the frame in silver and black.

Didn't want to leave, however your book of the exhibition, showing all the art, is a wonderful reminder of my favourite artist.

Roger Brian

I come from Mottram in Longdendale. I knew Mr Lowry. We all did. He was our pet. Somehow we recognized that he stood above us in his bearing and his talent. But he was ours.

He tried to disguise it with his drab appearance and his offhand manner. No grand carriages for him. He travelled with other workers from the city and the Hyde cotton mills, clambering over his matchstick men on the 4-abreast upstairs seats on the 125.

But his apparently stony heart went out to one girl from the village, whose artistic talent he recognized and encouraged. And Pat Gerrard Cooke returned the kindness, supporting him in his later years and taking him to explore the North East, Ireland and North Wales. Sadly, apart from one of his earlier paintings of Berwick, the exhibition did not show her work, or his, in these places.

And unlike her, he did not explore the potential of Mottram, whose setting high above the Etherow valley and Glossop Dale can match that of many Italian hill towns. But he said that he was not happy there. But he stayed nevertheless. And perhaps lived longer, through being above the Manchester smogs.

And I was one of his matchstick men. I worked in two cotton mills. In one I was a can-tenter, looking after 17 carding machines. In another, I shipped out crates of cones to Corahs of Leicester and hampers of fine count mule-spun cops to Elton Cop in Bury.

I returned to that mill the following year. But I declined a job. - Smashing the wonderful machinery of Mather and Platt, Dobson and Barlow and Casablancas High Draft. And breaking the hearts of their former minders.

So much has gone. Wrapped in a shroud of white cotton born in blackened air and that blackened land. A fabric that could only be shown in the black and white pictures of the time.

It could have been left like that. But Manchester was home to cotton finishers who could bring that dull material back to life with new designs and the use of colour. Just like Mr Lowry.

So our frail memories are supported now by his lasting, colourful and often terrible visions, as bleak as Van Gogh's final cornfields.

And above his home in Mottram, the heather and the wimberries of Hobson Moor and the cotton grass of the wilderness of Featherbed have not passed away.

But Mr Lowry and his combers and his piecers, his mule spinners, cop packers, cone-winders, his overlookers and his ring-doffers have gone. To wilder flowers than those.

CarolineK

Wonderful and impressive collection of Lowry paintings. Really liked the seaside and funfair paintings.

Freyiejj

I really enjoyed this exhibition. It was well laid out and was easy to get around. It was great seeing a wide variety of his paintings and what he learnt from as well. However, there were a lot of paintings and not so much of actual information on Lowry. It was also quite crowded, but that was understandable. All in all, I thought it was a great experience and I would definitely do something like this again.

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