Tate Britain Exhibition

Paintings and Drawings by Charles Ginner

Charles Ginner, ‘The Café Royal’ 1911
Charles Ginner, The Café Royal 1911. Tate. © Tate
Charles Ginner, ‘The Café Royal’ 1911
Charles Ginner
The Café Royal 1911
© Tate

Charles Ginner, who died on 6 January 1952, played an active part in the formation of the Camden Town Group, the name of which has become symbolic of the exciting years before 1914. As that and succeeding groups dissolved and diverged, Ginner continued with the exercise of his very considerable talents, independent and unperturbed. His painting is emphatically of his period, but at no stage in his development could a picture by Ginner be mistaken for that of another painter.

He declared his creed and label when he and Harold Gilman held a joint exhibition at the Goupil Gallery in 1914 and prefaced the catalogue with an article entitled Neo-Realism, which he had written for the New Age. Here he argued that all great creative art is founded on direct contact with life and nature. Art derived from other art degenerates into false style and mannerism, as the realism of French primitives had foundered in the influence of the Italian Renaissance.

Ginner and Gilman shared a teaching studio in Soho for a short time. Here colour was made to declare itself without compromise, and traces of careless or slap-dash painting were rooted out remorselessly. Alas, the sharing of a bout of deadly influenza in 1919 ended with the death of Gilman, and the reduction of the Neo-Realist group by one half.

Ginner became almost exclusively a painter of landscapes, expansive, detailed, worked from corner to corner in mosaic-like touches, always with the accentuation of pattern in mind: in London he revelled in conventionally unattractive buildings, streets with apparently every brick defined yet somehow brought together and harmonized with subtle colour responses.

Hubert Wellington

Tate Britain

London SW1P 4RG
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30 January – 20 February 1954

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