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Post-War Modern: New Art in Britain, exhibition review 1945-65

The “Great Flood” of World War II overshadowed life in Britain for decades, Laura Cumming said in The Observer. In the end, the country went bankrupt and its major cities lay in ruins. Poverty was growing and “the division of food, clothing and human happiness” remained valid for many years after 1945. “Sounds of air raid warnings” and “terrifying memories of the year old” is still intact in mind; Nazi atrocities loom large in the collective imagination. Against this grim backdrop, a new generation of British artists has emerged, paying homage to the gloom of the times with its myriad styles and different media. This “fascinating” exhibition in the Barbican – itself an icon of brutal postwar architecture – brings together the work of around 50 artists, including painting, photography and sculpture to represent provides an in-depth overview of British art during this period. It has both “base names” – Bacon, Freud, Ayres and Auerbach are all present and correct – as well as many “forgotten” artists, it is filled with “reveals” and snapshots of social history. . “There aren’t many performances that can give you insight into an entire era in the arts.” This is one of them.

Alastair Sooke said in Daily telegram. The compositions here are characterized by “broken, unstable shapes, monochromatic or gray color palettes, and generally sad atmosphere”: Frank Auerbach paints the head of his friend Leon Kossoff as if it were ” a peeled skull”, while the first portrait of Lucian Freud’s wife, Kitty Garland, sees her “blooming a rose”, searching the world as a “mental patient with PTSD”; needless to say, “the marriage didn’t last”. These creepy highlights aside, much of what we see is patchy. The anthology of paintings by “kitchen realist” John Bratby is unanimously “horrible” and “wretched,” while the paintings of “depressed women” by Eva Frankfurther, a refugee Jewish, is “tasteless”. There are also some notable omissions: where is Henry Moore, for example? If this show proves anything, it’s that postwar British art “tends to be light, not flighty”. I left “disappointed, feeling dull”.

What do you expect, Waldemar Januszczak asked in Sunday Times. “The show looks back at a notoriously flashy period in British art.” The opening part of this exhibition made the strong point that “dark times begot dark art”; The show’s “worst aesthetic moments” can be blamed on the era in which they were produced, rather than the artists who created them. And many of the most glorious works are impressive. Lynn Chadwick’s pterodactyl-like sculpture The Fisheater “Looming in space like a terrifying skeleton”, while Elizabeth Frink’s Harbinger bird like “fearing little ostriches, cast in bronze.” With a somber mood firmly established, the show will “explore different corners of post-war England”. There is a section on Bacon and Hockney, while the painting “giant and powerful” by John Latham Dots – “a hazy black circle” “has begun to fade at the edges as if in the early stages of disintegration” – paving the way for concept art of the 1960s and 1970s. “Shame” as it was. inherently, it is a “skillfully curated” exhibit meant to “rub our noses into the mood and texture of war and its consequences.”

Barbican Art Gallery, London EC2 (020-7638 4141, barbican.org.uk). Until June 26.

https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/culture/art/956122/exhibition-review-postwar-modern-new-art-in-britain-1945-65 Post-War Modern: New Art in Britain, exhibition review 1945-65

Fry Electronics Team

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