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Monuments Men, Background Story & Degenerate Art Exhibition

The Monuments Men, The Movie

A Rembrandt self-portrait recovered at a German salt mine

A Rembrandt self-portrait recovered at a German salt mine

The Monuments Men were a group of men and women from thirteen nations, most of whom volunteered for service in the newly created Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, or MFAA. Most had expertise as museum directors, curators, art scholars and educators, artists, architects, and archivists. Their job description was simple: to save as much of the culture of Europe as they could during combat.

The team members, initially 30 men who were largely civilian art experts, crisscrossed Europe, often alone and under fire, chasing after fabled works from great museums, gold and silver heirlooms from Holocaust victims, even brass and iron bells from ancient church towers. Among the masterpieces they rescued were the Ghent Altarpiece (1432), the Madonna of Bruges by Michelangelo (1504) and Vermeer’s “The Astronomer” (1668), all intended for a colossal museum envisioned by Hitler. Their exploits were chronicled in a 2009 book by Robert M. Edsel, “The Monuments Men,” which has now been adapted into a movie by that name. . . from George Clooney. NYTimes

 

 

Edith A. Standen, left, and Rose Valland in 1946.

Edith A. Standen, left, and Rose Valland in 1946

The New York Times published an article showing that “Not All Monuments Men Were Men.”

Rose Valland, whose role is depicted briefly by Cate Blanchett in the film, was a French Resistance operative who spied on the Nazis and showed herself able to shoot and drink with the boys. Edith A. Standen was a captain in the Women’s Army Corps who went on to a career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And Ms. Hall was a Smith College graduate who came to the task from a career focused on the study of Asian art. SEE MORE

Resources:

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in HistoryThe Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: “degenerate” works he despised.

In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.

Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world’s great art from the Nazis.

Watch the video interview by PBS with Robert Edsel, the author of The Monuments Men, the book which the film is based upon. 

During World War II, the Nazis systematically looted art works from all over Europe, while combat and aerial bombing unintentionally destroyed major landmarks. The story of the quest to protect, rescue and restore Europe’s cultural treasures is told in a new movie, “The Monuments Men.” Robert Edsel, author of the book that inspired the new film, joins Jeffrey Brown for a conversation.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/monuments-men-movie/

The Monuments Men and the National Gallery of Art
February 11–September 1, 2014, Washington D.C.

An exhibition provides a look at the legacy and history of the real ‘Monuments Men’ Behind the History, an archival display featuring World War II-era photographs, documents, and memorabilia, many never before exhibited.

Shortly we will be fighting our way across the continent of Europe in battles designed to preserve our civilization. . . . in the path of our advance will be found historical monuments and cultural centers which symbolize to the world all that we are fighting to preserve.

It is the responsibility of every commander to protect and respect these symbols whenever possible.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, General, US Army, May 26, 1944

 

monuments-men photoWashington, DC—The officers who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) program rescued masterpieces from Nazi thieves during the chaos of liberation. Prior to the war, six of these officers were associated with the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and in later years three held important positions at the museum. Perhaps more important, even before the MFAA operation was established, the Gallery was the center of lobbying efforts to create such a program and later, in association with the Roberts Commission, worked tirelessly to support MFAA activities in the field.

“The Gallery is proud to have played such an integral role in the story of these real-life Monuments Men, ” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “These men—and women—worked to protect Europe’s cultural heritage at the height of World War II, ensuring its safety in the aftermath and returning works, when possible, to their rightful owners once peace and security were restored.”

From February 11 to September 1, 2014, the Gallery will showcase The Monuments Men and the National Gallery of Art: Behind the History, an archival display featuring World War II-era photographs, documents, and memorabilia, many never before exhibited. On view in the West Building Art Information Room, the display will demonstrate the seminal role the National Gallery of Art played in the creation of the MFAA, the Roberts Commission, and the experiences of real-life MFAA officers.

monuments men-001The successful activities of these few men is out of all proportion to their number and their position within the military machine. The task was nothing less than to preserve as much as they could of man’s creative past.

During World War II, American art historians, museum and art professionals, and archivists were deployed as military officers to protect historical monuments, art, and archives in war theaters throughout western Europe. These “monuments men” were part of the military’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) program. The National Gallery of Art played a seminal role in its creation.

This display describes the creation of the government commission that instigated and supported the MFAA and explores the experiences of a few of the real-life monuments men. The photographs and documents shown here can only suggest the enormous achievements of the program.

CLICK THE LINKS below to see the different categories of documentation from The Monuments Men and the National Gallery of Art: Behind the History

Introduction

I. Behind the Monuments Men

II. Destruction and Recovery in Italy

III. D-Day and France

IV. Loot and Treasure

V. Sanctuaries for Art

VI. Restitution and Closure

The Monuments Men at the Met: Treasures Saved During World War II

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has set up an itinerary of 11 works of art which narrowly escaped destruction and they indicate that without the foresight of The Monuments Men, these important paintings would not be in the Met’s collection today. The quote excerpted below is from the Met site.

SEE MORE AT:

 

The Monuments Men were 345 men and women, representing thirteen nations, who volunteered for service in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, or MFAA, during World War II. James Rorimer, a Monuments Man who eventually became the Met’s director, played a pivotal role in the MFAA’s efforts.

In a race against time, and under mandate from President Franklin D. Roosevelt and General Dwight D. Eisenhower, this group of unlikely heroes—museum directors, curators, art scholars, educators, artists, architects, and archivists—risked their lives on the front lines and worked tirelessly to protect Europe’s monuments and greatest cultural treasures from both the destruction of the war and seizure by Hitler and the Nazis. Without vehicles, typewriters, or full authority, they managed to track, locate, and return more than five million looted cultural items. Their role in preserving these treasures stands without precedent.

Use the following itinerary, complemented by writings from Monuments Men historians and James Rorimer himself, to discover eleven works of art that narrowly escaped destruction and were restituted to their rightful owners. Without the courage, determination, and foresight of the Monuments Men, these important paintings would not be in the Met’s collection today.

This itinerary was produced in conjunction with the February 2014 release of the feature film The Monuments Men.

One of the paintings on the Met’s Itinerary is as follows:

Jean Siméon Chardin, Soap Bubbles

In a special meeting held at the Met in 1941, the Fogg Art Museum’s associate director Paul Sachs addressed the war and its impact on the arts community: “If, in time of peace, our museums and art galleries are important to the community, in time of war they are doubly valuable. For then, when the petty and the trivial fall way and we are face to face with final and lasting values, we…must summon to our defense all our intellectual and spiritual resources. We must guard jealously all we have inherited from a long past, all we are capable of creating in a trying present, and all we are determined to preserve in a foreseeable future. Art is the imperishable and dynamic expression of these aims. It is, and always has been, the visible evidence of the activity of free minds.”

“Minutes of a Special Meeting of the Association of Museum Directors on the Problems of Protection and Defense held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” pp. 134–135, RG 7, Box 77, Publications, Metropolitan Museum, Conservation of Cultural Resources, Defense, Gallery Archives, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

SEE MORE AT:

In the Footsteps of the Monuments Men: Traces from the Archives at the Metropolitan Museum

From the “Now at the Met” Blog:

Melissa Bowling, Associate Archivist, Museum Archives; and James Moske, Managing Archivist, Museum Archives

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014

Several of the Monuments Men either were Metropolitan Museum staff members or joined the Museum after the war; they include Theodore Heinrich, Theodore Rousseau, Edith Standen, and Harry D. Grier. Perhaps the most prominent among them was James J. Rorimer, a Harvard-educated medieval art specialist first hired by the Metropolitan in 1927. Rorimer steadily rose through the curatorial ranks and was appointed curator of medieval art in 1934. He played a central role in the development of The Cloisters museum and gardens, the branch of the Museum located in upper Manhattan. In 1943, Rorimer left the Museum to join the United States Army, where he eventually became an officer in the MFAA. Between 1943 and 1946, Rorimer covered a broad territory between northern France and Germany in his pursuit of art treasures confiscated and hidden by the Nazis.

See more about the history and documentation.

Related Installation:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives celebrates the achievements of the Monuments Men with a special installation of historical photographs, documents, and publications in the Museum’s Thomas J. Watson Library from January 31 through March 13, 2014.

Learn more!

Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany 1937 Neue Gallerie March 13-June 30, NYC

The term “degenerate” was adopted by the National Socialist regime as part of its campaign against modern art. Many works branded as such by the Nazis were seized from museums and private collections.

Following the showing of these works in a three-year traveling exhibition that criss- crossed Germany and Austria, most were sold, lost, or presumed destroyed. In this light, the recent discovery in Munich of the Gurlitt trove of such artwork has attracted considerable attention. The film “The Monuments Men,” directed by George Clooney which opened in February 2014, suggests the level of popular interest in the subject.

Paul Klee, Twittering Machine, watercolor 1922

Paul Klee, Twittering Machine, watercolor 1922

Highlights of the show include a number of works shown in Munich in the summer of 1937.

Works from the original exhibition include: Max Beckmann’s Cattle in a Barn (1933); George Grosz’s Portrait of the Writer Max Hermann-Neisse (1925); Erich Heckel’s Barbershop (1913); Ernst Luwig Kirchner’s Winter Landscape in Moonlight (1919), The Painters of the Brücke (1925/26); Paul Klee’s The Angler (1921), The Twittering Machine (1922), and Ghost Chamber with the Tall Door (New Version) (1925); Oskar Kokoschka’s The Duchess of Montesquiou-Fezensac (1910); Ewald Mataré’s Lurking Cat (1928); Karel Niestrath’s Hungry Girl (1925); Emil Nolde’s Still-Life with Carved Wooden Figure (1911), Red-Haired Girl (1919), and Milk Cows (1913); Christian Rohlf’s The Towers of Soest (ca. 1916) and Acrobats (ca. 1916); Karl Schmidt-Rottluff’s Pharisees (1912); and Lasar Segall’s Eternal Wanderers (1919), among others.

The Neue Galerie exhibition comes on the heels of the recent discovery of a trove of Nazi-looted art in Munich. It will open just a month after the premiere of The Monuments Men, a feature film starring and directed by George Clooney that tells the story of the U.S. military officials charged with protecting cultural heritage during World War II.

Ernst_Ludwig_Kirchner_-_Winter_Landscape_in_Moonlight,_1919__Detroit_Institute_of_Arts

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Winter Landscape in Moonlight, 1919

The Neue Galerie’s big spring show, “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” has been nearly three years in the making, yet it seems particularly prescient after the discovery last month of what may well be the biggest trove of missing 20th-century European art — about 1,400 works suspected of being traded or looted during the Nazis’ reign, including paintings by Matisse, Chagall, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso and a host of other masters.

Some disappeared in the late 1930s, around the time the Nazis raided German museums and public collections, confiscating works they called degenerate because Hitler deemed them un-German or Jewish in nature.

 

 


Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany 1937 by Olaf Peters (Editor)

Neue Gallery, Degenerate ArThis book accompanies the first major museum exhibition devoted to a reconstruction of the infamous Nazi display of modern art since the presentation originated by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1991. During the Nazi regime in Germany, “degenerate art” was the official term for much of the most important modern art of the day. “Degenerate art” was defined by the Nazi regime as artwork that was not in line with the National Socialists’ ideas of beauty.

Their condemnation extended to works in nearly every major art movement: Expressionism, Dada, New Objectivity, Surrealism, Cubism, and Fauvism. Banned artists included Max Beckmann, Paul Klee, and Oskar Kokoschka.

Richly illustrated, Degenerate Art elucidates the historical and intellectual context of the notorious exhibition in Munich in 1937, which spurred the attack on modern art.

The book contains reflections on the genesis and evolution of the term “degenerate art” and details of the National Socialist policy on art. Art works from the exhibition Degenerate Art are compared to works of art from The Great German Art Exhibition, which was held at the same time and displayed the works of officially approved artists. The book also presents the after-effects of the attack on modernism that are felt even today.


Resources: The Monument Men

Watch the video interview by PBS with Robert Edsel, the author of The Monuments Men, the book which the film is based upon.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/monuments-men-movie/

The Magazine, The True Story Behind ‘The Monuments Men’ By Julian Smith Feb 2014 Read more: http://www.mensjournal.com/magazine/the-true-story-behind-the-monuments-men-20140206#ixzz2tVkzqmnz

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/07/movies/clooney-and-company-hunt-for-treasures-in-monuments-men.html?_r=0

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2014/01/25/clooneys-monuments-men-heroes-finally-take-a-bow/4724387/

http://journaltimes.com/lifestyles/relationships-and-special-occasions/the-art-and-sites-of-the-monuments-men/article_e5a20ca8-9340-11e3-8f1c-001a4bcf887a.html

http://www.monumentsmenfoundation.org/


Resources: Degenerate Art

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/14/arts/design/degenerate-art-at-neue-galerie-recalls-nazi-censorship.html?_r=

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/artworld/2014/03/24/140324craw_artworld_schjeldahl

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/13/degenerate-art-attack-modern-art-nazi-germany-review-neue-galerie

http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-features/previews/degenerate-art-exhibition-of-nazi-era-modern-work-opens-at-neue-galerie/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/arts/design/degenerate-art-opens-at-neue-galerie-in-the-spring.html?_r=0

http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-features/news/hitlers-nude-nymphs-to-go-on-view-at-neue-galerie/

British Contemporary Watercolors

Looking At Watercolor Directions By 5 British Artists

Stephanie Tuckwell, aber series 2 no.2 (2012) watercolour and charcoal on paper

Stephanie Tuckwell, aber-series-2-no.2-2012, watercolour and charcoal

In a recent ‘Resource Centre’ article, British art supplier and manufacturer, Winsor and Newton, focused on the contemporary works in watercolor by several British artists. In so doing they first noted some historical background of watercolour in England versus that of the French Academy, and thereby cited the issue of “heirarchy” in painting mediums.

“There are many preconceptions about watercolour; a paradoxical medium, seen by some as the perfect entry into painting but by many as technically challenging and difficult to master.”

“In the 19th century Turner and Constable introduced watercolour into fine art; however, the French Academy, copied throughout Europe, created a hierarchy of subjects suitable for the serious artist; history and myth being at the top, followed by ‘genre’ scenes, then landscape and still life. The only material they proposed for historical painting was oil colour; watercolour was considered suitable for sketches and associated with architectural painting and landscape.”

Five British artists engaged in contemporary work discuss the use of watercolour in their art practice… Several artists are cited who are currently challenging some of the perceptions about the watercolor medium. Given the diverse nature of contemporary art, it is little surprise that artists use watercolour in a range of ways, sometimes unorthodox, that best suit their ideas and working method.

Alf Lohr

Alf Löhr, Watercolor

Alf Löhr, Watercolor

“As watercolour is a liquid I pour or drip it” says Alf Löhr, “or I throw it in the air to catch when it comes down!”

Alf Löhr sees an almost moral benefit to this material challenge; he believes you have to live with your mistakes, there is no cover up or rubbing out. He likes the simplicity of watercolour: “water + pigment +light; neither greasy nor plastic like acrylics.”

The historical association of water colour with sketching is part of the way London based artist Alf Löhr (www.alflohr.net) communicates his ideas about life and the creative process;

“Look at architecture and it is obvious that the highest level of creativity was at the stage of the original sketch or drawing. The rest is technical execution done by engineers. Art is not dissimilar.

For me, creativity is in the sketch, when the mind is still free to explore and is open for things to happen. That’s why watercolours are always nearer to life and more lively than cleverly executed artistic statements. Watercolours allow you to avoid big, heroic simplifications. You either look for life or you don’t.”

Alf Lohr, in the studio

Alf Lohr, in the studio

Born in Germany in 1957, Alf Löhr studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and completed a PhD at the Royal College of Art, London. Having spent periods teaching, researching and working in New York, Australia, and Glasgow – to name a few – he has chosen London to be his home for the last twenty-five years. Since the early’s 1990s, Löhr has focused on producing small watercolours, and has gained in scope until producing large-scale works on canvas.

Alf Lohr paintings

Alf Lohr paintings

In a recent interview Alf Löhr responded to the question ‘what it is about a painting that might cause us to say that it is beautiful? ‘ with the following:

‘Whether it is abstract or representational, we find (a painting) beautiful if we can see a pattern in it, a grace of line or movement, harmony or proportion. The eye is caught by a pattern of colour, the way different colours relate to one another; the eye is caught by differentiation and contrast between dark and light, stillness and activity. And yet a painting is lifeless if it is too controlled, too obviously patterned, and organised and its objects too perfect. In truthful art as in a truthful understanding of life there is always a hint or echo of chaos, incompatibility, imperfection and so every beautiful artwork also has an element of pathos’.

Stephanie Tuckwell

Stephanie Tuckwell, aber series 2 no.1 (2012) watercolour on paper

Stephanie Tuckwell, aber series 2 no.1 (2012) watercolour on paper

Stephanie Tuckwell works on a number of paintings at one time; this encourages her to work swiftly and directly, shifting between paintings, sometimes to linger and work intensely, other times to move on rapidly. For Stephanie the special material characteristics of watercolour are both an idea in her art as well as a practical application.

“My work is a response to the edges of landscape, the meeting of land and sea, where mass meets fluids. My inspiration lies at the edges of the air, land and sea, my working methods lie in the area between the intentional and incidental; the fluidity and immediacy of watercolour which allow me to explore these concerns in an intuitive manner.”

 

“My work.. is a response to movement through the landscape; a glimpse from a train, a view from a mountaintop, being airborne in a glider, or standing on the edge of a cliff. I seek to arrive at an image that is a distillation of the experience of being present in the world at a particular moment.

Stephanie Tuckwell, aber series 2 no.5 (2012) watercolour on paper

Stephanie Tuckwell, aber series 2 no.5 (2012) watercolour on paper

Just as the focus of my inspiration lies at the edges of the air, land and sea, my creative practice lies in the area between the intentional and incidental. Working at these edges demands a mindful awareness and presence that embodies my experiences of the landscape. I work in series: my working methods tend to be swift and direct, shifting between drawing and painting, sometimes to linger and work intensely, other times to work more sparingly and moving on rapidly.”

Stephanie graduated from Goldsmith’s College London in 1975 and is based in Cardiff. Winner of the University of Glamorgan’s prestigious Art Purchase Prize for 2008, awarded the prize for Wales at the 2009 ING Discerning Eye Exhibition.

 

Carol Robertson

Carol Robertson, watercolor

Carol Robertson, watercolour

Winner of the 2005 Sunday Times Watercolour competition with her abstract paintings that embrace the transparent qualities of water colour, Carol Robertson (www.carolrobertson.net) loves the medium for its luminosity and the way it soaks into paper. She believes water colour brings a quality of light from the back to front and appears to reflect light. Carol uses soft brushes to lay down washes of colour, then over-paints, using a more saturated mix. She sometimes removes areas of watercolour with water and absorbent tissue to leave a stain or vestige. She masks out areas of an image and uses flicking or spattering as a softer unstructured contrast to careful linear detail.

Carol Robertson’s paintings are firmly rooted within reductive abstract conventions. Although she doesn’t seek to confirm or record the way the world looks, her work is never disconnected from it.. In earlier work Robertson choose to use the square, rectangle and circle for their ideal power and aesthetic beauty. Recent work has moved towards a more informal relationship with landscape, architecture, nature and the environment, encompassing notions of transience and change.

Carol Robertson, Transition 3, watercolor, 2010

Carol Robertson, Transition 3, watercolour, 2010

Multi-coloured arcs or circles now loosely traverse her canvases, with collisions and crossovers registering flashes of chance and coincidence, reminiscent of small arcane details that fleetingly curve across one’s vision.

Every painting is prepared with poured and stained grounds, unstructured atmospheric colour fields that deliberately highlight and complement carefully over-painted arcs as they collide and cross in their individual orbits.

The expression of flux and impermanence in this work reflects her changing response to the world. Art and beauty, however much they arise out of life, are now the defence against its ravages. As Nietzsche said “We have art that we may not perish from truth”.

“The power and beauty of geometric form and detail provides me with a catalyst for ways to make art. Adopting the formal restraints of a reductive and often repetitive geometric language takes the chaos out of what otherwise would be an impossibly vast set of visual options upon which to pin my existence. Geometry allows me to concentrate on the essential. It allows me the freedom to channel sensory or poetic material through its refined parameters. Over time my work evolves in tandem with whatever is happening in my life, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and physically. The enduring constant is my commitment to working with the non-hierarchical and pragmatic language of geometric abstraction”.

Carol Robertson. This City 14, WatercolourCarol Robertson lives and works in London and is married to fellow artist Trevor Sutton. She is primarily a painter and printmaker, represented in the UK and USA by Flowers Gallery, by Galleri Weinberger in Denmark and by Peter Foolen Editions in the Netherlands.

In 2005 she won first prize in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition. She was Research Fellow in Painting at Cardiff School of Art & Design from 2003 – 2008.

Her work has been exhibited extensively internationally, most recently in The Netherlands, Austria, Japan and USA. Since 2001 she has been a Returning Fellow at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ireland. In 2012 she was artist in residence at the Kunstgarten in Graz, where she has made 3D objects for the first time. In 2013 she shows a new series of paintings titled Circular Stories at Galerie allerArt, Bludenz, Austria.

 

Barbara Nicholls

Barbara Nicholls, No 3. Watercolor, 2013

Barbara Nicholls, No 3. Watercolour, 2013

Barbara Nicholls’ (www.barbaranicholls.co.uk) watercolour paintings made with Winsor & Newton professional water colour suggest the stratification built up over millions of years in geological formations.

“I start by creating puddles of water on large sheets of paper. I apply the watercolour to this water and wait for the pigment to find the edge of the water. This creates a line of colour. I am interested in this line; it has a quality that I could not otherwise achieve.”

“Residue” Large watercolours produced during a year long studio residency at Winsor and Newton London 2013. “Nicholls takes as her point of departure systems of archaeological and geographical mapping, accumulations and isolated portions of material remains, the convoluted territorial alignments of the city (its physicality and historical layering), and the malleability of the actual materials out of which her work is made. She draws upon a substantial (though not arbitrary) armoury of technical processes and devices, bringing these together so as to produce works of a coherent yet open nature which ask that the viewer respond to them in an active and engaged way.”

 

Barbara Nicholls, No 9. Watercolour on paper. 2013

Barbara Nicholls, No 9. Watercolour on paper. 2013

Barbara Nicholls’ work operates across a broad range of artistic categories, employing a wide span of processes and techniques to address a number of engaging critical issues: questions of aesthetic form, surface and depth, chance and order, the handmade and the readymade, the archaeological and the cartographic, and the relations between work and play. Her approach, both to the subject matter with which she engages and to its material rendition is allegorical or metaphorical, rather than literal or mimetic. The objects Nicholls produces, be they primarily two dimensional or three dimensional forms, may thus be regarded as translations or complex developments with their own internal logic, structures which have, to a considerable degree, moved away from their original sources whilst nonetheless connecting to them through inference and analogy.

Nicholls takes as her point of departure systems of archaeological and geographical mapping, accumulations and isolated portions of material remains, the convoluted territorial alignments of the city (its physicality and historical layering), and the malleability of the actual materials out of which her work is made. She draws upon a substantial (though not arbitrary) armoury of technical processes and devices, bringing these together so as to produce works of a coherent yet open nature which ask that the viewer respond to them in an active and engaged way.

Barbara Nicholls, Spree-2, Watercolour, 2010

Barbara Nicholls, Spree-2, Watercolour, 2010

An individual work can display several, apparently contradictory methods of “inscription”, of technical know-how within its frame: drawing, painting, routing, folding and unfurling, tracing and tracking, sanding down and sharpening up. The result may be a multilayered, overly physical cluster of densely packed substances or, conversely, something minimal, neatly stripped down. Nicholls’ works might sometimes be better described as “accumulations” rather than as conventional paintings; they are certainly situated somewhere between or adjacent to conventionally established categories, this hybrid status being one of their most intriguing and seductive features.

Peter Haslam-Fox

Peter Haslam-Fox, watercolour

Peter Haslam-Fox, watercolour

Watercolour can have a particular, luminous quality achieved by applying transparent paint to white paper. Once applied, water colours are hard to move and artists respond in different ways to this challenge.

In a recent London exhibition Peter Haslam-Fox (haslamfox.com) showcased a series of large-scale, highly detailed paintings:

“Water colour by its very nature is unforgiving. The kind of focus needed to be brave with your subject and get it right first time is exhilarating. I find this especially true of working on a larger scale.”

” I am aiming to rejuvenate the neglected medium of Watercolour and push it in a new direction. The paintings draw more on the simplicity of Eastern traditions in ink than the more fastidious Western works on paper, though through the use of colour and scale try to merge the two worlds.

For the most part self contained, the subjects are chosen for their innate but simple strength. Similarly the painting of them reflects a clarity of style and a concentration of technique that I greatly admire in Chinese painting and calligraphy. Rather than relying on detail, the pictures depend as much on raw paper as paint for their description. “

Based in his South Lambeth studio, Haslam Fox has continued in his attempt to rejuvenate watercolours and while working on various private commissions, he continues to work on new series of works.

Peter Haslem-Fox, Watercolour

Peter Haslem-Fox, Watercolour

Peter Haslam-Fox, lives and works in London. He has won several awards including; The Benton Purchase Prize at ‘The Discerning Eye Exhibition’, Mall Galleries (2010) and The RWS/Sunday Times, ‘young artist’ (2008). His work has been exhibited at mixed exhibitions including; The Discerning Eye Exhibition, Mall Galleries and The Royal Watercolour Society Spring Exhibition, Bankside Gallery.”

Peter Haslam Fox is a London based figurative artist. For the large part self taught, he did start out at art school. He hated it, and instead went to Glasgow to study art history and then went on to work in a variety of professions around the world, latterly as a carpenter in London and gilder in the U.S. It was only in 2006 when a chance meeting with the artist Brendan Kelly rekindled his interest in painting that he ended up under his guidance for a year culminating in his first show at Ainscough Contempory Art.

A foray into Watercolour in 2007 unexpectedly led to his first series of paintings that explored the capital’s architectural and social diversity. He was named the RWS/Sunday Times’s 2008 ‘Young Artist’ and other works were showcased at the 2008 Discerning Eye Exhibition at the Mall Galleries and the 2009 21st Century Watercolour Exhibition at The Bankside Gallery.

The series entitled A Tale of Two Towers went on to form his critically aclaimed solo show, launching the ‘Art Work Space’ gallery in Bayswater. The paintings were described in ‘Art Of England’ magazine as “exquisite pieces of contemporary portraiture.”

Peter Haslam-Fox, watercolour

Peter Haslam-Fox, watercolour