Tate Liverpool Second floor galleries
26 August 2006 – 4 February 2007
Patrick Caulfield (1936–2005) is one of the major British artists of the post-war era who produced some of the most enigmatic and iconic works of the last fifty years. Following his death last year, Tate Liverpool will present a display of his work from the Tate Collection that brings together such important paintings as After Lunch (1975), and Interior with a Picture (1985–6) with a series of acclaimed screenprints. Caulfield's work radically re-imagines and reinvigorates traditional genres such as the landscape, the still-life, and the domestic interior. His work is characterised by the reduction of detail to areas of bold and flat colour with objects delineated in solid outlines. Although often celebrated as one of the leading proponents of Pop Art in Britain, he distanced himself from any particular art movement by engaging with the subject matter and styles from art history and maintaining a distinctive individuality and originality.
For Caulfield 'nothing is stranger than life itself.' Finding inspiration in the everyday world, his art shows scenes suspended in stillness - a moment in time that evokes a melancholic and mysterious sense of place. Human activity is rarely portrayed in his work and an intense solitude is often suggested. This gives the work a subtle and complex double meaning: images are visually enticing, yet profoundly poignant. Caulfield's later paintings combined realistic elements with his typical reductive style. By deliberately placing naturalistic elements in direct confrontation with stylized elements, his work unsettles the distinctions between artifice and reality.
In 1964 Caulfield began making screenprints whose conceptual subtlety, wit and visual intensity matched that of his paintings. Screenprinting allowed Caulfield to dispense with detail and brushwork, elements that he found 'distracting', and suited his tendency towards pictorial precision. The immaculate surfaces of his works convey the impression of an effortless, unified vision.
Born in London, Caulfield studied under Jack Smith at the Chelsea School of Art (1956-60) and at the Royal College of Art (1960–63). He first came to prominence in 1964 when he was included in New Generation at London's Whitechapel Art Gallery, the exhibition which heralded the birth of British Pop Art. His work has been exhibited widely nationally and internationally, and is held in major international collections.