photo: © Rikard Österlund

Room 2 in Modern Art and St Ives

Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red  1937–42

Mondrian’s interest lay in the abstract quality of line but by 1914 he had all but eliminated the curved line from his work. By 1916 he had suppressed any sense of a subject. Still later he developed a new form of rigorous abstraction called Neo-Plasticism in which he limited himself to straight, horizontal and vertical lines and basic primary colours. Typically his compositions were not symmetrical but could scarcely be purer in their elements. He felt this art reflected a greater, universal truth beyond everyday appearance.

Gallery label, April 2013

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

1/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Zebra and Parachute

Christopher Wood, Zebra and Parachute  1930

A friend of the Surrealist poet René Crevel, Wood made a small number of paintings that seem to reflect the movement's harnessing of the unexpected. His placement of a zebra outside Le Corbusier’s modernist house, the Villa Savoie (then still under construction), suggests a deliberate confrontation of the surreal and the functional styles that were then dominant in Paris. The image is made more perplexing by the figure of the parachutist. This was one of Wood's last works: in a paranoid state, he fell under a train in August 1930.

Gallery label, July 2007

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

2/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle

Pablo Picasso, Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle  1914

This table-top scene, with its fruit-bowl, violin, bottle and (painted) newspaper, is constructed from areas of colour that resemble cut-out pieces of paper. The background has been left white. Picasso and Braque had been making collages that experimented with representation and reality since 1912. They soon began to simulate the appearance of collage materials in their oil paintings, sometimes adding sand to the paint to give a heightened reality to the picture surface.

Gallery label, November 2012

© Succession Picasso/DACS 2020

License this image

3/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

The Entire City

Max Ernst, The Entire City  1934

A crumbling city looms oppressively below the ring-shaped moon. Ernst made a whole series of such works. The imagery may reflect his pessimism as Nazism took hold in his native Germany. The ruined cityscape was created using a technique that Ernst called ‘grattage’ (scraping). It involved placing the canvas over planks of wood or other textured surfaces, then scraping paint across it. The shapes that emerged formed the basis of the image. Grattage was one of a number of techniques that Surrealist artists explored as a way of letting a chance element into their work.

Gallery label, July 2008

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

License this image

4/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Loveday and Ann: Two Women with a Basket of Flowers

Frances Hodgkins, Loveday and Ann: Two Women with a Basket of Flowers  1915

Frances Hodgkins came to Britain in 1901 from the confined artistic scene of New Zealand. Spending long periods in Cornwall, home to the Newlyn and St Ives Schools, and in Paris, where she taught at the Académie Colarossi, Hodgkins ploughed her own furrow. In typically individualistic style, this portrait combines the mobility of watercolour with the intensity of oil, showcasing the artist's idiosyncratic drawing and quirky sense of colour.

Gallery label, February 2010

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

5/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

1934 (relief)

Ben Nicholson OM, 1934 (relief)  1934

Nicholson was interested in the ways in which paintings can represent space. In the 1930s, he made shallow reliefs in which areas of different depths define actual space. In the most radical of these, colour was reduced to just white or grey to achieve a sense of purity. Depth and plain colour make the play of light and shadow an intrinsic part of the work. This emphasis was related to new ideas about living and, especially, to modern architecture, in which natural light and formal simplicity were major concerns.

Gallery label, December 2016

© Angela Verren Taunt 2020. All rights reserved, DACS

License this image

6/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Three Forms

Dame Barbara Hepworth, Three Forms  1935

In 1934 Barbara Hepworth's abstraction
based on the human figure gave way to an art of pure form. With such works as Three Forms she reduced her sculpture
to the most simple shapes and eradicated almost all colour. She said later that she was 'absorbed in the relationships in space, in size and texture and weight,
as well as the tensions between forms'. While the three elements are slightly imperfect in shape, their sizes and the spaces between them are precisely proportional to each other. This reflects her concern with the craft of hand-carving and with harmonious arrangement
of form.

Gallery label, September 2004

© Bowness

License this image

7/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Notre-Dame

Henri Matisse, Notre-Dame  c.1900

Matisse painted numerous views of Notre-Dame, which he could see from his studio window in Paris. The cathedral glows in the sunlight, and a glancing shadow indicates that it is midday. By contrast, the river beneath is dark and richly coloured. A plume of smoke from the riverboats rises in front of the cathedral, linking the industrial and spiritual aspects of the city. This atmospheric detail echoes Impressionism. However, the painting's touches of strong, sometimes seemingly arbitrary colour, anticipate Matisse's later Fauvist work.

Gallery label, August 2004

© Succession Henri Matisse/DACS 2020

License this image

8/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

The Fisherman’s Farewell

Christopher Wood, The Fisherman’s Farewell  1928

Traditionally, this has been seen as a portrait of Wood’s friends Ben and Winifred Nicholson with their first child. They are shown against the backdrop of the harbour of St. Ives, then a fishing village and an established artists colony. It was painted the year in which Wood and Ben first met Alfred Wallis, the untutored painter whose instinctive style endorsed their own consciously ‘naïve’ mode of painting. To cast Nicholson in the role of fisherman was to invest him with the sort of rooted authenticity to which they aspired in their painting.

Gallery label, July 2007

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

9/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

1924 (first abstract painting, Chelsea)

Ben Nicholson OM, 1924 (first abstract painting, Chelsea)  c.1923–4

This is the first abstract Ben Nicholson painted and is one of only a few such works made by British artists in this period. Younger, avant-garde artists tended to concentrate on still life and landscape in the twenties using them as vehicles for formal experiment. Only three early abstract paintings by Nicholson are known and all of them display evidence of a sophiscated understanding of Cubism and its insistence on shallow space and overlapping planes. This painting was very advanced in the context of British art in this period, where the notion of abstraction was essentially equated with the distortion of natural appearance.

Gallery label, August 2004

© Angela Verren Taunt 2020. All rights reserved, DACS

License this image

10/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Head

Constantin Brancusi, Head  c.1919–23

The basic oval form of Head is an example of the extreme simplicity of Brancusi's wooden carvings. Brancusi associated direct carving and a sympathy for natural materials with the peasant traditions of his native Romania, as well as with African sculpture. Head was originally part of a larger work known as Plato or Little French Girl II, which also included a pole-like neck, torso, legs and large protruding feet. Brancusi cut off the head around 1923 and apparently threw the rest away.

Gallery label, July 2008

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

License this image

11/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Window-Sill, Lugano

Winifred Nicholson, Window-Sill, Lugano  1923

Though the painting of flowers has been stereotyped as the preserve of women artists, Nicholson uses it here not as an expression of femininity, but as a pretext for experiments in technique. Like many progressive artists at this time she adopts a naïve or ‘primitive’ style in an attempt to unlearn traditional picture-making habits and generate a fresh vision of the subject. Nicholson innovatively combines the two genres of still life and landscape, aiming at personal expression through her use of space, shapes and colour

Gallery label, February 2010

© Tate

License this image

12/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Black Landscape

Graham Sutherland OM, Black Landscape  1939–40

This Welsh scene reflects the artist's anxiety at the threat of war; it was painted during the ‘phoney war’ between 1939 and 1940. Both the title and the ominous twilight effect suggest imminent violence. Later the artist would transform objects found in nature, such as tree roots and branches, into human-like presences. Here it is the stark rocky landscape that rises up as a dark, threatening presence.

Sutherland was influenced by the pastoral vision of William Blake and Samuel Palmer (shown in room 8). This painting echoes the breadth of vision Blake showed in times of war, transcending narrowly nationalistic concerns.

Gallery label, September 2004

© The estate of Graham Sutherland

License this image

13/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Spherical Vase

Bernard Leach, Spherical Vase  c.1927

The 1920s saw a revival in traditional crafts. The potter Bernard Leach mixed a revival of pre-industrial English designs with similarly traditional styles from Japan, where he had studied. He exhibited his pots alongside painters like Ben and Winifred Nicholson. A resurgence in craft practice in painting and sculpture, as well as pottery and other crafts, had its roots in the anti-industrialism of the 19th-century Arts and Crafts movement. It was given more urgency in the wake of the mechanised destruction of the First World War.

Gallery label, September 2016

© The estate of Bernard Leach

License this image

14/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

The Blue Ship

Alfred Wallis, The Blue Ship  ?c.1934

Alfred Wallis spent most of his working life as a fisherman but by the time he was discovered in St Ives by Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood in 1928 he had become a rag and bone merchant. He began painting at the age of seventy to keep himself company. Wallis painted memories of deep sea fishing boats which were no longer in use. He also painted landscapes based on the surrounding area. Nicholson and Wood were impressed by the directness of Wallis's work, his use of irregular shaped pieces of cardboard as a support and ground, and the object-like quality of the paintings. The discovery of Wallis encouraged them to pursue further their adoption of a 'naive' vision.

Gallery label, September 2004

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

15/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

White and Yellow

Marlow Moss, White and Yellow  1935

© reserved

License this image

16/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Le Grand Jour

Sir Roland Penrose, Le Grand Jour  1938

© The estate of Sir Roland Penrose

License this image

17/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Related Forms

Jessica Dismorr, Related Forms  1937

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

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

18/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

‘The Hold House Port Mear Square Island Port Mear Beach’

Alfred Wallis, ‘The Hold House Port Mear Square Island Port Mear Beach’  ?c.1932

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

19/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Icarus

John Armstrong, Icarus  1940

Icarus flew too close to the sun, so that his wings, made of wax, melted, and he crashed into the sea and drowned. Armstrong made this painting at the beginning of the second world war, and imagined the world to be like Icarus on the edge of disaster, with wings already damaged.

Gallery label, August 2004

© Tate

License this image

20/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Standing Figures

Henry Moore OM, CH, Standing Figures  1940

This drawing by Moore can be closely associated with his sculptures of the period. Typically, the forms suggest at once human bodies, shells and bones, and interior bodily shapes. For Moore, drawing was a kind of investigative process, which would throw up new ideas for sculpture. Instead of producing a single, resolved image, the sculptor would generally cover the paper with different, half-finished sketches.

Gallery label, September 2004

© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

License this image

21/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Sculpture with Profiles

Dame Barbara Hepworth, Sculpture with Profiles  1932

All of these sculptures are carved from alabaster. The varying qualities of the same stone are immediately evident. Gaudier-Brzeska used gilding (now discoloured) to give his relief an antique quality. The softness of alabaster suits it to Hepworth's organic forms and she exploited this characteristic to incise such details as facial features and abstract patterns.

Gallery label, August 2004

© Bowness

License this image

22/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Small Bottle

Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie, Small Bottle  1927

© reserved

License this image

23/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Experiment in Textures

Sir Cedric Morris, Bt, Experiment in Textures  1923

Morris is best known for an apparently naïve style of figurative painting and for the school he ran at Benton End in Suffolk with his partner Arthur Lett-Hains. In the early 1920s, however, he made and exhibited a number of abstract compositions. These followed a trip to Italy where he had been close to the artist Anton Giulio Bragaglia who advocated an art, not of representation, but of the dynamic synthesis of abstract and natural forms. Noting that all paintings are abstractions to some degree, in 1924 Morris stated that abstract paintings were explorations of the essential elements of pictorial language: here these are, presumably, texture and colour.

Gallery label, November 2016

© The estate of Sir Cedric Morris

License this image

24/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Seated Nude

William Scott, Seated Nude  1939

This was one of a series of seated figures Scott painted in Brittany in 1938-9.
The model for it was the artist's wife. Scott painted her at Pont-Aven in the summer of 1939. The painting has a directness and simplicity that conveys a feeling of innocence. At the time all Scott's paintings were done from life and show his interest in such artists as Derain, Modigliani and Cézanne. He related the directness of his paint handling here to the work of Matisse and the figure seems to relate to Matisse's primitivistic portrayals of nudes in landscape of about 1907-8.

Gallery label, September 2004

© The estate of William Scott

License this image

25/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Quarante Huit Quai d’Auteuil

Winifred Nicholson, Quarante Huit Quai d’Auteuil  1935

The title of this work refers to Winifred Nicholson’s address in Paris, where she lived from 1932 to 1938, befriending artists such as Piet Mondrian, Constantin Brancusi, Jean Arp and Jean Hélion. Nicholson painted her first abstract paintings in 1934, exhibiting them under the name Winifred Dacre. The paintings are expressions of colour and light, and she wrote that ‘the nature of abstract colour is utter purity – but colours wish to fly, to merge, to change each other by their juxtapositions, to radiate, to shine, to withdraw deep within themselves.’

Gallery label, November 2015

© The Trustees of Winifred Nicholson

License this image

26/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Glass and Plate of Apples

Georges Braque, Glass and Plate of Apples  1925

In the years after the First World War Braque abandoned the rigid geometry of his earlier Cubism in favour of a more naturalistic, fluid style. His works retained a relatively shallow pictorial space, but were more obviously traditional in subject and composition. With its simple subject, 'Glass and Plate of Apples' may be seen as expressing Braque's profound attachment to homely, everyday objects.

Gallery label, August 2004

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

License this image

27/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Figure

Henry Moore OM, CH, Figure  1931

Figure is an early example of Moore’s development towards abstraction in the first half of the 1930s. In this sculpture a figure of a woman is interpreted fluidly, a rendering that is in part determined by the sensitivities of the wood’s grain. It was most likely created in Moore’s Hampstead studio. Its rounded contours, in common with others from this period, relate to the sculptor’s interest in the lines of the landscape, where natural forms are softened and simplified as a consequence of weathering.

Gallery label, September 2016

© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

License this image

28/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Construction: Stone with a Collar

Naum Gabo, Construction: Stone with a Collar  1933, this version c.1936–7

In the 1920s Gabo rejected sculptural mass and the use of natural materials in favour of space and industrial materials. Here, however, he brings together the expression of open space (the curvature of the cellulose acetate and the painted brass ‘collar’) with the sculptural solidity of stone resting on a slate base. In taking this direction, Gabo wished to express what he saw as the hidden forces of nature.

Gallery label, April 2012

The Work of Naum Gabo © Nina & Graham Williams / Tate, 2020

License this image

29/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Grotto in the Snow

Paul Nash, Grotto in the Snow  1939

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

30/30
artworks in Paris, London and St Ives 1920–1940

Art in this room

Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red
Piet Mondrian Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red 1937–42
Zebra and Parachute
Christopher Wood Zebra and Parachute 1930
Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle
Pablo Picasso Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle 1914
The Entire City
Max Ernst The Entire City 1934
Loveday and Ann: Two Women with a Basket of Flowers
Frances Hodgkins Loveday and Ann: Two Women with a Basket of Flowers 1915
1934 (relief)
Ben Nicholson OM 1934 (relief) 1934

You've viewed 6/30 artworks

You've viewed 30/30 artworks