Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Sons Of Hogarth

Keith and I were looking at Manchester's collection of 20th century British art. We weren't  impressed. Here's Vanessa Bell trying to be Cezanne and here- on a later wall- is Vanessa Bell trying to be Matisse. Here's Ben Nicholson trying to be Braque and here's someone whose name I forget trying to be Dali. A theme emerges. Even Paul Nash- an artist capable of great work- spends a lot of his time giving us Cezanne's take on the English countryside. I don't hate these paintings- I'd be happy to hang most of them over my fireplace- but they're imitative and second-rate. The only artists who emerge as remarkable are the ones who don't give a damn about riding the European art history train: Spencer, for instance and Burra and Lowry-  sons of Hogarth all three- bloody-minded, obsessive and in love with the grotesque.

Later we sat in front of Ford Madox Brown's "Work". Keith doesn't like it but I think it's wonderful so I tried to convert him. Brown is another Son of Hogarth.  He's doing the great 19th century novel in paint. His people are goblins. The weird, flattened perspective of the foreground- as if viewed through a telephoto lens- threatens to tip Victorian Hampstead into your lap.
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