Who Are They?

Who is Patrick Caulfield?

Explore the colourful – and sometimes confusing – world of Patrick Caulfield!

Patrick Caulfield, ‘After Lunch’ 1975
Patrick Caulfield
After Lunch 1975
Tate
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield

Are you hungry? This painting is called After Lunch.

It is a picture of a restaurant. Do you think the artist might have been on holiday when he painted it? Can you see the man leaning in the doorway? Do you think he is waiting for the artist to leave?

Patrick Caulfield has painted the picture blue and in a cartoon style. But then he has done something strange. He has painted a realistic landscape scene on the wall. This is different to what you find in most paintings. The artist is playing with our ideas of what is real and what is not.

Patrick Caulfield, ‘Pottery’ 1969
Patrick Caulfield
Pottery 1969
Tate
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield

Patrick Caulfield painted everyday objects, like an empty wine glass or a bottle – or lots of pots! He liked making paintings that were very flat and look as if they have been printed rather than painted. This is another way that he playfully confuses us, making us not quite sure of what we are looking at.

Early in his career, he used household paints, the glossy kind that are sometimes used to paint walls or doors. This is why some of his paintings look so flat.

Patrick Caulfield, ‘Lampshade’ 1969
Patrick Caulfield
Lampshade 1969
Tate
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2019

This picture of a lampshade is very simple isn’t it? But is it also a little bit mysterious. Can you see that the light from the lamp is not illuminating the darkness?

Patrick Caulfield was interested in the work of the surrealist artists. They liked to put everyday objects together to make something playful and disturbing at the same time. This is why some of his images look a little confusing and mysterious.

Giorgio de Chirico, ‘The Uncertainty of the Poet’ 1913
Giorgio de Chirico
The Uncertainty of the Poet 1913
Tate
© DACS, 2019
Patrick Caulfield, ‘Bananas and Leaves’ 1977
Patrick Caulfield
Bananas and Leaves 1977
Tate
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2019

The first of the banana pictures above is by the surrealist artist Giorgio de Chirico. He mixes a traditional Greek sculpture of a body with the bananas. Strange eh? But it makes you think about something that is new and something that is old!

Do you think that Patrick Caulfield was inspired by this painting to make his banana picture? What are the similarities and differences between the two artworks?

Patrick Caulfield, ‘15. ‘Oh Helen, I roam my room’’ 1973
Patrick Caulfield
15. ‘Oh Helen, I roam my room’ 1973
Tate
© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2019

Patrick Caulfield studied art at the Royal College of Art in London in the early 1960s. He met other artists there like Peter Blake and David Hockney who were also interested in painting ordinary, everyday things. They were part of a bigger art movement called pop art which celebrated ordinary life – such as television, pop music, advertisements and fast food.

What would you draw or paint to show everyday life? Is there something near you right now that might look a bit boring but actually could be a start of a very interesting story….?

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