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[AIA]

English group founded in London in 1933 as the Artists International to promote united action among artists and designers on social and political issues, and active from 1953 to 1971. In its original formulation it pursued an identifiably Marxist programme, with its members producing satirical illustrations for Left Review (e.g. see exh. cat., pp. 20–21) and propaganda material for various left-wing organizations. Reconstituted as the AIA in 1935, it avoided identification with any particular style, attracting broad support from artists working in both a traditional and modernist vein in a series of large group exhibitions on political and social themes, beginning with 1935 Exhibition (Artists Against Fascism & War) in 1935 (London, 28 Soho Square). Support was given to the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War (1936–9) and to the Artists’ Refugee Committee through exhibitions and other fund-raising activities, and efforts were made to increase popular access to art through travelling exhibitions, public murals and a series of mass-produced offset lithographs entitled ...

Article

Christian Lenz

(b Leipzig, Feb 12, 1884; d New York, Dec 27, 1950).

German painter, draughtsman, printmaker and teacher. He was one of the most important German painters of the 20th century. He was initially influenced by traditional styles, but during World War I he rejected perspective and classical proportion in favour of a more expressive objective art. He was persecuted by the Nazis in the 1930s but continued to work, painting his celebrated secular triptychs in the late 1930s and the 1940s.

Beckmann showed artistic promise from an early age, painting as early as c. 1898 a Self-portrait with Soap Bubbles (mixed media on cardboard; priv. col.; see Lackner, 1991, p. 10). After training at the Kunstschule in Weimar (1900–03), he studied under the patronage of Julius Meier-Graefe in Paris. There he became acquainted with the works of the Impressionists, Cézanne, van Gogh and probably such early French paintings as the Avignon Pietà. From 1903 until the outbreak of World War I he lived mostly in or near Berlin. He began painting landscapes and from ...

Article

David Cast

(b Durban, Transvaal, Nov 21, 1910; d Newark-on-Trent, Notts, Aug 9, 1943).

British painter of South African birth. He studied at Durban School of Art and after showing his work in 1930 earned enough money to travel to London, arriving there in 1931. Some years of poverty followed, and in 1935, a year after participating in an exhibition of paintings based on abstraction from nature (see Objective Abstraction), he gave up painting and became a journalist. He returned to painting, however, after the establishment in 1937 of the Euston Road School in London by William Coldstream, whom he had met in 1934, finding in the ideas and practices of its artists a way to accommodate both his social concerns and his admiration of a tradition of painting derived from Cézanne.

In the first paintings he produced in England Bell explored the lyrical possibilities of the paintings of Duncan Grant, but after meeting Coldstream he sharpened the social focus of his work and painted in a more formally disciplined manner. This way of working is evident in his best pictures, such as ...

Article

(Randall)

(b London, July 19, 1928; d Hastings, E. Sussex, July 20, 1992).

English painter, writer and teacher. He studied at the Kingston College of Art (1948–50) and later at the Royal College of Art (1951–4), where he was awarded a bursary to travel in Italy. However, he was not very stimulated by the art he saw there and subsequently preferred not to travel; his taste for domestic life in England is reflected in his painting (e.g. Window, Self-portrait, Jean and Hands, 1957; London, Tate). He worked in a harsh realist style, applying the paint thickly in vibrant colours, and portraying sometimes ugly and desperate faces. He primarily chose his family as subjects and incorporated all the clutter of urban domestic life in his paintings (e.g. Still-Life with Chipfryer, 1954; London, Tate). It was this concern with social realism that brought Bratby into contact with Jack Smith, Edward Middleditch (1923–87) and Derrick Greaves (b 1927), and these artists became the main exponents of the ...

Article

Claudio  

Spanish, 20th century, male.

Born in Seville.

Painter. Genre scenes.

Claudio was a representative in the 1960s of the popular vein of painting influenced by Social Realism, led by the Seville-born artist Cortijo. Starting from an everyday realism, he paid more and more attention to portraying the critically intimist side of his subjects and, as he said, to representing: 'Middle-class man, integrated into the poor taste of a consumer society'....

Article

British, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 27 July 1926, in London; died 16 December 2004.

Painter, draughtsman. Landscapes, domestic life.

Social Realism, New Realism.

Peter Coker studied in London at St Martin’s School of Art (1941-1943) before enlisting in the Fleet Air Arm (...

Article

David Cast

(Menzies)

(b Belford, Northumb., Feb 28, 1908; d London, Feb 18, 1987).

English painter and draughtsman. He moved to London as a small child with his family and for reasons of health studied privately, intending to become a doctor like his father. Gradually, however, he became interested in drawing and painting, which led him to study at the Slade School of Fine Arts in London from 1926 to 1929. In the latter year he exhibited with both the New English Art Club and the London Group, to which he was elected a member in 1934. In the works that he painted during this period, such as The Table (1932; Bristol, Mus. & A.G.) and Studio Interior (1932–3; London, Tate), he demonstrated his cultivation of a sober and measured representational style applied to prosaic domestic subject-matter and to the human figure.

Troubled by the social conditions endured by others during the Depression and by his frustrations in reflecting them adequately in his art, Coldstream gave up painting in ...

Article

Cortijo  

Spanish, 20th century, male.

Active in Seville.

Painter.

Cortijo was the principal representative of Social Realism in Spain.

Article

Reinhold Heller

(b Untermhaus, nr Gera, Dec 2, 1891; d Singen, July 25, 1969).

German painter, printmaker and watercolourist (see fig.). His initial training (1905–14) in Gera and Dresden was as a painter of wall decorations, but he taught himself the techniques of easel painting from 1909 and began concentrating on portraits and landscapes in a veristic style derived from northern Renaissance prototypes. After seeing exhibitions of paintings by Vincent van Gogh (Dresden, 1912) and by the Futurists (1913), he quickly fused these influences into a randomly coloured Expressionism. Volunteering as a machine-gunner during World War I, he served in the German army (1914–18), making innumerable sketches of war scenes, using alternately a realistic and a Cubo-Futurist style. The experience of war, moreover, became a dominant motif of his work until the 1930s. He later commented: ‘War is something so animal-like: hunger, lice, slime, these crazy sounds … War was something horrible, but nonetheless something powerful … Under no circumstances could I miss it! It is necessary to see people in this unchained condition in order to know something about man’ (Kinkel, ...

Article

David Cast

Name given by Clive Bell in 1938 to a group of English painters associated with the School of Drawing and Painting established in October 1937 by William Coldstream, Claude Rogers (b 1907) and Victor Pasmore, in a review of the exhibition 15 Paintings of London (Oct-Nov 1938; London, Storran Gal.). The school was initially in Fitzroy Street, but it moved soon after to premises at 314/316 Euston Road. The term was quickly broadened to describe a movement encompassing as many as 30 other painters, many of them former students of the Slade School of Fine Art, including Rodrigo Moynihan, Lawrence Gowing (1918–91), William Townsend (1909–73), Graham Bell, Anthony Devas (1911–58) and Geoffrey Tibble (1909–52).

The Euston Road painters worked essentially in a realist tradition, reacting in part against modernist tendencies (especially Surrealism and abstract art) but also responding to the conditions engendered by the Depression, which they felt called for a socially committed art. These political concerns led ...

Article

Philip Cooper

(b Paris, May 16, 1898; d Châtenay-Malabry, Seine-et-Oise, July 21, 1964).

French painter, printmaker, illustrator and sculptor. An illegitimate child, he was given his mother’s surname but was brought up by his grandmother. On the death of both his father and grandmother in 1908 he joined his mother in London, where he entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1912. Finding the teaching too traditional, he left to enrol at the Slade School of Fine Art, which had a reputation for being more avant-garde, though he was again disappointed. He then decided to work alone and devoted himself to painting, concentrating on nudes and still-lifes. He also regularly visited the Tate Gallery, where he was particularly impressed by the works of Turner. In 1917 he was called up for the French Army, but because of his poor health he was soon transferred to the auxiliary corps. Suffering from a pulmonary complaint, he lived in the Tyrol from 1920 to 1921 and was finally discharged from the army in ...

Article

Lee M. Edwards

(b Liverpool, Oct 18, 1844; d London, Feb 27, 1927).

English painter and illustrator. He first studied art at the Mechanics Institute in Liverpool and at the nearby Warrington School of Art. In 1863 he won a scholarship that enabled him to study at the South Kensington Art School in London and subsequently at the Royal Academy Schools. By the late 1860s he was earning money as an illustrator for such popular periodicals as the Cornhill Magazine and Once a Week.

Fildes’s illustration Houseless and Hungry, which appeared as a wood-engraving in the first issue of the Graphic (4 Dec 1869), a socially conscious weekly, was the turning-point of his career. The engraving depicts homeless paupers queuing outside the casual ward of a workhouse. When it was shown to Charles Dickens by John Everett Millais, the author commissioned Fildes to illustrate his novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The unfinished book was published posthumously in 1870 with a set of 12 illustrations by Fildes....

Article

Ursula Zeller

[Georg]

(b Berlin, July 26, 1893; d W. Berlin, July 6, 1959).

German painter, draughtsman, and illustrator. He is particularly valued for his caustic caricatures, in which he used the reed pen with notable success. Although his paintings are not quite as significant as his graphic art, a number of them are, nonetheless, major works. He grew up in the provincial town of Stolp, Pomerania (now Słupsk, Poland), where he attended the Oberrealschule, until he was expelled for disobedience. From 1909 to 1911 he attended the Akademie der Künste in Dresden, where he met Kurt Günther, Bernhard Kretschmar (1889–1972) and Franz Lenk (1898–1968). Under his teacher Richard Müller (1874–1954), Grosz painted and drew from plaster casts. At this time he was unaware of such avant-garde movements as Die Brücke, also active in Dresden. In 1912 he studied with Emil Orlik at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Berlin. A year later he moved to the Académie Colarossi in Paris, where he learnt a free drawing style that swiftly reached the essence of a motif....

Article

Monica Bohm-Duchen

(b Nancy, March 15, 1912; d Paris, Dec 1, 1948).

French painter. His father, Jacques Gruber, was a stained-glass artist of Alsatian origin. Francis moved with his family to Paris in 1916. Although ill-health during childhood led to the neglect of his formal education, he read widely and precociously and from the age of eight showed an eagerness to paint; even as a child he admired the work of Hieronymus Bosch, Matthias Grünewald and Albrecht Dürer, who were to prove important influences on his work of the 1930s and 1940s, and sought advice from Georges Braque and Roger Bissière, who were close neighbours. Between 1929 and 1932 he was taught at the Académie Scandinave by Charles Dufresne, Othon Friesz and Henry de Waroquier (1881–1970). He worked essentially from the imagination during these years, although he also produced a few still-lifes. From 1930 he exhibited regularly at the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Tuileries.

In 1933 Gruber met Alberto and Diego Giacometti, who were to become close friends (...

Article

Demelza Spargo

(b Bagheria, nr Palermo, Jan 2, 1912; d Rome, Jan 18, 1987).

Italian painter. He gained his first practical experience of art in the form of Sicilian cart-painting in the bottega of a family friend Emilio Murdolo. The images of the exploits of the Normans in Sicily that adorned these carts instilled in Guttuso a strong and lasting preference for epic stories and vivacity of colour; similarly, the knowledge that he gained of the Sicilian countryside and peasantry through his father, a land-surveyor and committed socialist, had a marked effect on his work as a mature artist. While still at school in Palermo, he began to study painting in 1928 under Pippo Rizzo (b 1898), a minor Futurist who had extensive contacts with mainland Italy. He began studying law in 1930 at the University of Palermo but left the course soon after exhibiting at the Quadriennale in Rome in 1931.

Guttuso worked at first in a style influenced by the Novecento Italiano, but from ...

Article

Sepp Kern

(b Karlsruhe, Nov 21, 1891; d Karlsruhe, Dec 26, 1979).

German painter, draughtsman, printmaker and teacher. He studied at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe (1908–12), where he became friendly with Rudolf Schlichter and Georg Scholz (1890–1945). From 1912 to 1914 he studied portraiture and attended life classes under Emil Orlik at the teaching institute of the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin. After World War I he was a postgraduate student of Ernst Würtenberger at the Kunstschule in Karlsruhe, studying etching, woodcutting and illustration. Hubbuch’s concise drawings and etchings are the most significant part of his output: like those of Otto Dix and George Grosz they are full of social criticism, but they are more briskly executed. In innumerable studies he recorded situations typical of the period, particularly scenes showing human weaknesses and life in the city (e.g. The Dream of the Tietz Girls, etching, 1921; see 1981–2 exh. cat., p. 123). Naive narrative pictures from the immediate post-war period were followed after ...

Article

Ingrid Swenson

English group of painters active in the 1950s. Its name was derived from an article of 1954 by the critic David Sylvester and is used to identify a brand of English realist painting whose main exponents were John Bratby (b 1928), Derrick Greaves (b 1927), Edward Middleditch (1923–87) and Jack Smith. These artists knew each other and exhibited together but did not share a common programme or ideology. Like the contemporary ‘angry young men’ of realist drama and literature, they rejected their label. Their work represents a distinctive but brief reaction against the élitism of abstraction and Neo-Romanticism in favour of figurative social realism, a reaction that found its most ardent voice in the writings of the Marxist critic John Berger (b 1926).

Greaves, Middleditch and Smith were closest in style and subject-matter. Smith’s After the Meal (1952) is typical of the school’s unheroic depictions of the domestic life and labour of the contemporary working-class. Such commitment was commended by Berger as responding to the austerity of post-war Britain during the Cold War. ...

Article

John Steen

[Pieter Frans Christian]

(b Beek, nr Nijmegen, July 15, 1901; d Wassenaar, Oct 27, 1991).

Dutch painter and draughtsman. He abandoned his law studies in 1927 to concentrate on a career as a painter. Although self-taught, he received advice from Erich Wichman and Kor Postma (1903–77). In 1928 he had his first group exhibition at De Onafhankelijken (The Independents) in Amsterdam, for which he submitted two paintings, which contained elements of both Neue Sachlichkeit and Surrealism. The influence of photography and film is particularly noticeable in his work, for example the portrait of Asta Nielsen (1929). His exhibition with Postma and Albert Carel Willink, held at the art dealer P. de Boer in Amsterdam (1930), marked the beginning of a period when realism in art was popular. His later work is often classified as Magic Realist; he himself believed that Magic Realism availed itself of representations that were possible, but not plausible, while Surrealism availed itself of impossible, non-existent or imaginary situations. He was interested in the fringes of society, and his work has an erotic character, which is often expressed through symbols. Between ...

Article

Josephine Gabler

(b Königsberg, Germany [now Kaliningrad, Russia], July 8, 1867; d Moritzburg, nr Dresden, April 22, 1945).

German printmaker and sculptor. She received her first art tuition from Rudolph Mauer (1845–1905) in Königsberg in 1881. She continued her training in 1885 in Berlin under Karl Stauffer-Bern and in 1888 under Ludwig Herterich (1856–1932) in Munich. Influenced by the prints of Max Klinger, which had been brought to her attention by Stauffer-Bern, she devoted herself to this form and gave up painting after 1890. She first produced etchings (see Woman with Dead Child, 1903) and lithographs but later also woodcuts. From 1891 she lived in Berlin where she had her first success: the portfolio of three lithographs and three etchings, A Weavers’ Revolt (1895–8; Washington, DC, N.G.A.), inspired by Gerhard Hauptmann’s play Die Weber, was shown at the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung. Kollwitz joined the Secession in Berlin and was appointed to a special teaching post at the Künstlerinnenschule.

Kollwitz was indebted stylistically to naturalism, but her preferred subject-matter was linked to the emerging workers’ movement. Her prints on themes of social comment were carried out predominantly in black and white. However, her training as a painter had initially exerted considerable influence on her style. This changed around the turn of the century. Abandoning natural surroundings, she concentrated on different ways of representing the human body. It was then that a sculptural sensibility became decisive for her graphic forms. The first expression of this changing style was the etching ...

Article

Eric Hild-Ziem

(b Le Mans, July 11, 1885; d Grasse, Nov 27, 1925).

French painter and draughtsman. Although he was born at Le Mans, where his father, an officer in the French army, was temporarily stationed, he came from an aristocratic family whose ancestral home, the Château de la Fresnaye, was near Falaise. His education, which was thorough and classically based, was followed by studies in Paris at the Académie Julian (1903–4) and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (1904–5 and 1906–8); from 1908 he studied at the Académie Ranson under Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier, whose joint influence is evident in early works such as Woman with Chrysanthemums (1909; Paris, Pompidou), which has the dreamlike Symbolist atmosphere and stylization characteristic of work by the Nabis.

In 1909 La Fresnaye travelled to Munich, where he came briefly under the influence of Expressionism in paintings such as Entry to the Village (1910; Troyes, Mus. A. Mod.). From 1910 to 1911...