Karl Weschke

Body on the Beach


Not on display

Karl Weschke 1925–2005
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1730 × 1299 mm
Purchased 1981

Display caption

Weschke painted this in his Cape Cornwall studio. Its theme relates to an accident the artist had while diving for lobster pots, forcing him to make an emergency ascent from one hundred and twenty feet under the sea. He was placed on the beach by his companions and as he lay there recovering he said he felt like a piece of meat. Originally the painting was much brighter but Weschke felt that the colours were too theatrical. He has commented that the painting is about 'a person in the ultimate situation of distress.'

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

T03287 BODY ON THE BEACH 1977–8

Inscribed on reverse ‘Karl Weschke 1977’
Oil on canvas, 68 1/8×51 1/8 (173×130)
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1981
Exh: Karl Weschke: Paintings and Drawings since 1974, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, October–November 1980, Victoria Gallery, Bath, February–March and Spacex Gallery, Exeter, March–April 1981 (6)

Weschke painted ‘Body on the Beach’ in his studio at Cape Cornwall, St Just, West Penwith, Cornwall in about 8 months in 1977 and early 1978. The theme of the painting, ‘a person in the ultimate situation of distress’, was the result of an accident when diving for lobster pots at Cape Cornwall, when Weschke had to make an emergency ascent from 120 feet beneath the surface of the sea. His companions placed him on the beach to recover and he felt ‘like a piece of meat’.

In the early stages of execution the painting was much brighter than when finished. Weschke felt that ‘The colours were too theatrical or to be less specific they were wrong for me. I felt the painting relied on their [the bright colours] shock value only. A noise so to speak instead of a sound in a given key. It was a performance lacking structure of a particular comment.’ ... ‘At the time I painted “Body” [the Tate painting] I also painted “Caliban” [a picture of a figure lying on a beach, reproduced in the catalogue of the Kettle's Yard exhibition] very much the sibling to “Body” and I suppose the corrections on one led in many instances to corresponding corrections on the other. Perhaps I should say the corrections were actually improvements rather than alterations only.’

This catalogue entry, approved by Karl Weschke, is based on a letter of his to the compiler and a discussion between them (both in July 1981).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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