Posts Tagged ‘L.S. Lowry’

GC Myers- Floating Melody smSunday morning.

It’s been a strange week spent trying to get some chores done around the studio and our home but not actually achieving as much as I had hoped.  Most of my time has been spent thinking about some concepts that I am trying to move forward with in my work.  A lot of this has to do with using different materials in a way that seems organic and not forced– one of the differences between art and craft.

Sometimes I will form an idea that seems like the perfect direction to head but once I extend my thinking through it I find that the result that I imagine is so much less that I had originally foresaw.  I begin to see the idea becoming too crafty and just that thought puts a serious damper on my enthusiasm for the concept.

So I continue to roll things around in my mind, trying to find that elusive edge which I can grab on to and run with.  This is a bigger part of what I do than one might imagine.  It’s never just a matter of physically placing yourself in the studio and mechanically moving materials through a process to produce paintings.  The mental aspect is the hardest part of the process, hard to describe and even harder to master.

It was put best by iconic painter L.S. Lowry when asked what he was doing when he wasn’t painting.  His response: “Thinking about painting.”

So I am here this morning, thinking about painting.  But I am my own master, my own boss, which makes a nice intro to this week’s selection for some Sunday Morning Music.  It’s a song from nuevo flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook and friends called La Rumba D’el JefeThe Boss’ Rumba.  So, give a listen, maybe move your feet a little bit and have a great Sunday.  Me? I’ll be thinking…

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Adolph Valette- Albert Square 1910

I’m always interested in how artists of all kinds use their influences, about they evolve their own style from the sources of their inspiration.  Back in August, I wrote here about the British painter L.S. Lowry, the man best known for his matchstick men figures and the urban landscapes of his native Manchester.  He is generally considered a self-taught painter despite the many years he spent taking evening classes at the Manchester Municipal School of Art while he worked his days as a rent collector. It’s even more surprising that the critics still attach this self-taught tag to Lowry once you begin to look at the work of the primary influence on him, Adolphe Valette.   In looking at Valette’s paintings, you can see how Valette’s style and eye had a tremendous influence on Lowry.

Valette was a Frenchman who arrived in England in 1904, carrying with him the influence of the Impressionist movement that was in full bloom in France at the time.  He eventually ended up in the north of England, to Manchester, a city at the center of the British industrial revolution.  It’s smoke-filled and foggy landscape provided the perfect inspiration for the hazy and  evocative paintings of Valette and his student, Lowry.  Valette taught for many years there until returning to France in 1928, where he died in 1942 at the age 0f 66.

I’m  surprised that Valette didn’t gain more notoriety for his work , that his name and work wasn’t well known before Lowry’s popularity brought him to light.  The images that I can find are beautiful and strong, rivaling much of the work of his better known Impressionist contemporaries.  I suppose that painting and showing in Manchester in the early 1900’s didn’t provide much access to the salons and museums of the greater art world.  At least Lowry’s recognition has pulled him into the present, giving his influential works greater influence and making them the subject of study.

As it should be.



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I feel sort of embarrassed to admit this but I had never heard of L.S. Lowry until I stumbled across him the other day.  I am most likely not alone in this but would have thought he would have crossed my radar screen at some point, especially given his prominence in the British art world and in British culture.  Not that I know a lot about British art or culture.  But this is a painter who has sold many works in the multi-million dollar range, one selling for a record $9+ million last last year.  This is not an anonymous artist.

I am still discovering more about this  painter  with a most individual style but here is a very short summation.

He was born in the north of England in 1887 and died in 1976, having spent most of his life as a rent collector for a property company.   Although he is often referred to as a self-taught artist, through much of his working life he studied art in the evenings at various schools. He used this study and the environment around him to find the distinctive style that marked his work, one that is populated with matchstick figures walking through   urban scenes, often heavily filled with images of  the English industrial landscape.

His work has permeated British popular culture as well. His matchstick figures were the basis for a 1967 rock song, Pictures of Matchstick Men, from Status Quo that was later became a hit  here in the States when covered by Camper Van Beethoven in the 80’s. And more recently, the British group Oasis had a video, The Masterplan, featuring the band members as matchstick men walking through animated scenes from Lowry’s paintings. In fact, Noel Gallagher, one of the leaders of  Oasis, has joined a growing chorus of fervent Lowry fans in Britain who have been  calling for greater displays and recognition of the late painter’s work there.  As a result, the Tate is mounting a major retrospective of Lowry’s work for 2013.

There’s a lot for me to like about Lowry which makes just finding him now more puzzling. But I have found him and will continue to learn more.  For now, here is the both the Status Quo song and the Oasis video.

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