Jessica Dismorr

Related Forms


Not on display

Jessica Dismorr 1885–1939
Tempera on board
Support: 556 × 657 mm
frame: 612 × 720 × 35 mm
Presented by Quentin Stevenson in memory of Catherine Giles and R.H.M. Ody 1978

Display caption

The abstract nature of works such as Related Forms was in the mid-1930s associated with the utopian ideas of a European avant-garde, advocating common cause in opposition to an increasingly fractious political environment on the continent.
Works by Dismorr entitled Related Forms were included in the exhibition ‘Unity of Artists for Peace, Democracy and Cultural Development’ at 41 Grosvenor Square, London in April-May 1937, though it is not known if this work was among those shown there.

Gallery label, November 2016

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Catalogue entry


Inscribed ‘J. Dismorr’ b.r.
Gouache on millboard, 21 7/8 × 25 7/8 (55.5 × 65.7)
Presented by Quentin Stevenson in memory of Catherina Giles and R.H.M. Ody 1978
Prov: Bequeathed by the artist to R. H. M. Ody; Jonathan Ody; Quentin Stevenson
Exh: Jessica Dismorr, Mayor Gallery, April–May 1965 (catalogue number unknown, but between 34 & 39); Jessica Dismorr and her Circle, Archer Gallery, February 1972 (32); Thirties, Hayward Gallery, October 1979-January 1980 (6.31, repr.)
Repr: Axis, No. 8, ‘Early Winter’ 1937, p.25

In 1937, works by Dismorr titled ‘Related Forms’ were included in the exhibition ‘Unity of Artists for Peace, Democracy and Cultural Development’, 41 Grosvenor Square, London, April–May (73) and at the London Group in November (306), but it is not known if either of these was the Tate's work. As many as six works with (or given) this title were included in the Dismorr exhibition at the Mayor Gallery, April–May 1965. Neither the extent nor the defining characteristics of the ‘Related Forms’ series are known. Paintings in private collections inscribed by the artist ‘Assembled Forms’ and ‘Disassociated Forms’ are broadly similar in their formal language, though the ‘Disassociated’ forms are more starkly contrasting than those in the Tate's picture, which employs white, two shades of a putty colour and three of grey in subtly balanced relation. On the reverse of the Tate's picture is a badly damaged and even more subtly-coloured work painted entirely in greys, in which the edges of the several separate forms are almost or actually straight.

So far as is known, Jessica Dismorr's work was exclusively abstract from 1936 until her death. Her still lifes of 1935 are transitional to abstraction. These and the earliest abstract works bear a strong relation (perhaps still suggested in the Tate's work) to the shapes of vases, curtains and scrolls of music. After the period of the Tate's pictures, Dismorr's painting tended increasingly to the overlapping of forms. As well as by the three adjectives cited above, she variously prefixed the word ‘Forms’ in the titles of her works from 1936 by ‘Stationary’, ‘Separated’ and ‘Superposed’.

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


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