Graham Vivian Sutherland (24 August 1903 – 17 February 1980) was a prolific English artist. Notable for his paintings of abstract landscapes and for his portraits of public figures, Sutherland also worked in other media, including printmaking, tapestry and glass design.
Printmaking, mostly of romantic landscapes, dominated Sutherland's work during the 1920s. He developed his art by working in watercolours before switching to using oil paints in the 1940s. A series of surreal oil painting depicting the Pembrokeshire landscape secured his reputation as a leading British modern artist. He served as an official war artist in the Second World War, painting industrial scenes on the British home front. After the war, Sutherland embraced figurative painting, beginning with his 1946 work, The Crucifixion. Subsequent paintings combined religious symbolism with motifs from nature, such as thorns.
Such was Sutherland's standing in post-war Britain that he was commissioned to design the massive central tapestry for the new Coventry Cathedral, Christ in Glory in the Tetramorph. A number of portrait commissions in the 1950s proved highly controversial. Winston Churchill hated Sutherland's depiction of him and subsequently Lady Spencer-Churchill had the painting destroyed.
During his career, Sutherland taught at a number of art colleges, notably at Chelsea School of Art and at Goldsmiths College, where he had been a student. In 1955, Sutherland and his wife purchased a property near Nice. Living abroad led to something of a decline in his status in Britain. However, a visit to Pembrokeshire in 1967, his first trip there in nearly twenty years, led to a creative renewal that went some way toward restoring his reputation as a leading British artist.
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