Patrick Caulfield (1936 – 2005)
Tate Britain | Now Ended |
Patrick Caulfield came to the forefront of the British art scene in the 1960's as part of the 'New Generation' artists of this period. Fundamentally a figurative painter Caulfied specialised in a sign-painting technique, which rendered brush work invisible avoiding such distractions to the viewer. This lent itself to the often mundane scenes he depicted with his clever use of colour & light.
He became associated with the pop art movement of his time following an exhibition in 1964. Averse to the label which was imposed upon his work Caulfied fought in favour of a more formal sophistication of art, opposing any pop art references although it is clear why such remarks had been made. Caulfield preferred to think of his art as the continuation of the works of modern masters such as Georges Braque & Juan Gris
In addition to the vibrant colours & bold outlines, Caulfield's work possesses greater depth to when first viewed. As if a cinematographer setting the scene in a film, his props take centre stage in the delivery of a deeper narrative. Figurative forms are reduced to basic bold contours simplifying the representation in order to present ordinary images as emblems achieving an immensely iconic feel. Strong in mood & with subtleties of light, the placement of objects are rich in meaning. In 'Santa Margherita Ligure' (1964), an otherwise flat scene achieves a hightened depth of field by pushing flowers outside the frame and into the foreground of the picture completely transforming the piece. In 'After Lunch', 1975, the time of day can be identified from the subdued lighting apparent in the piece. Deliberately selecting subject matter, which are not attached to a particular period in time also renders his work timeless.
'Santa Margherita Ligure' (1964)
With an onus on the setting of mainly communal areas such as bars, foyers, hotel rooms & restaurants without the people who would have occupied the space, viewing his works can provoke many questions. In 'Office Party', 1974, no person can be seen, only the remnants of their presence, symbolised by the wreckage of drained glasses, blank bottles and brimming ashtrays amongst a typewriter & disregarded telephone a painful reminder of tomorrow's working day. He was a master of setting the human scene with a single still-life.
One of the first artists to use domestic paints, Caulfield achieved recognistion in Britain & was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1987. His work was not as collected internationally although it is now finally gaining the exposure it deserves with collectors in India and Russia now buying into his works.
This exhibition features works from Caulfield's studies at the Royal College of Art and advances through to his final work, Braque Curtain, from 2005. Caulfied, although highly competent, was not so prolific, averaging just 4 paintings in a year & this is evident as an entire celebrated career is revealed at the Tate Britain in no more than 30 paintings. If this leaves you wanting more, further works are in exhibition at Caulfield's long-term dealer's, Waddington Cutot in London's Cork Street to coincide with this event. Paintings are available for purchase with prices varying from £40,000 to £480,000.
Entrance to this show also includes access to the Gary Hume exhibition at the Tate Britain.
'After Lunch', 1975.
'Café Interior: Afternoon', 1973