Pallant House Gallery is delighted to present Artists’ Studies: From Pencil to Paint, an exhibition examining the role of drawing and studies in the working methods of artists in the Gallery's prestigious collection of Modern British art such as Sickert, Bomberg, Caulfield, Hillier, Minton, Coldstream, and Sutherland. Presenting finished compositions alongside preparatory drawings and sketches, it will shed new light on some of the Gallery's best-known and most celebrated paintings.
Artists' studies provide a fascinating insight into the process behind the creation of often-familiar paintings. Besides uncovering aspects of technique, preparatory drawings can reveal the artist's original intent and often express more creative freedom and immediacy than the ‘final' painting to which they relate.
The artist's study has a history dating back to the Renaissance, but in the modern era it is closely associated with the figurative tradition of artists and art schools. The detailed preparation of drawings that could be squared-up for enlargement and translated to canvas was encouraged by Slade School tutors such as Henry Tonks, whose students David Bomberg, Stanley Spencer, and William Roberts all used this technique in their own mature work.
To complement the exhibition Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War (15 Feb - 15 June 2014) on show in the main galleries, Artists' Studies: From Pencil to Paint explores a number of paintings and related drawings by Spencer's contemporaries in the collection of Pallant House Gallery. It focusses in particular on works that were collected by Colin St Wilson who once described himself as having ‘an obsessive interest in how other artists work - not just the technical procedures but the whole mode of attack in developing an initial theme.'
The exhibition includes the painting and a related study for ‘Jack Ashore' (c.1912-13) by Walter Sickert, which features a clothed man and a nude woman in a bedroom. The composition of ‘Jack Ashore' was the subject of numerous drawings, and two etchings in addition to the celebrated oil painting, but the related drawing in the Gallery's collection was actually created after the painting, in order to transpose the image into the large soft-plate etching printed in 1912-13.
Other highlights include a group of preparatory drawings for the oil ‘Entrance to a Lane', 1939, produced by Graham Sutherland in July 1939 which reflect the influence of Surrealist artists such as André Masson; David Bomberg's squared-up drawings for 'The South East Corner, Jerusalem', 1926; and ‘The Colony Room', 1962 by Michael Andrews displayed together with a preparatory study.
Simon Martin, Artistic Director of Pallant House Gallery says: ‘Rarely shown and invariably considered to be "lesser" works in the hierarchy of art, artists have often avoided exhibiting preparatory studies, and yet they can often express far more creative freedom and immediacy than the work to which they ultimately lead. Without a time machine to travel back into the studios of the artists of the past, the preparatory study is often the closest we can get to understanding the seemingly alchemical process that leads to the creation of a familiar painting.'