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Indepth Arts News:

"Stanley Spencer"
2001-03-24 until 2001-06-24
Tate Britian
London, , UK United Kingdom

Stanley Spencer is one of the dominant figures of twentieth-century British art. This major exhibition will bring together over one hundred of his paintings and drawings from private and public collections around the world. It aims to present a concise retrospective of one of Britain's best-loved painters, with emphasis on the particularly intense period of the 1930s. The exhibition will include a strong selection of the great, well-known works, but also many less familiar works, which have never been seen before.

In addition there will be two specially made films; the first presenting the murals in the Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere, the second a digital recreation of the Church-House project, Spencer's imagined space for much of his later work.

Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) was an outstanding student at the Slade School of Art in London, and the first section of the exhibition is devoted to his early work reflecting the dual influence of Giotto and Gauguin. This early flowering culminates in masterpieces such as The Nativity (1912, University College London) and Zacharias and Elizabeth (1914, recently purchased jointly by Tate and Sheffield City Art Gallery); in both a biblical theme is embedded within the landscape of the Berkshire village of Cookham where he grew up and lived for much of his life.

His experiences of the First World War became the inspiration for the Burghclere Chapel series (1927-32). But in the 1930s Spencer's imagery was fuelled by marital and stylistic crisis, resulting in a flow of extraordinary paintings: the naked portraits of Patricia Preece, the often under-appreciated landscapes, the Beatitudes of Love series and the Last Day series for Church House, the Christ in the Wilderness sequence (loaned from Perth, Australia) - all of these pointing in contradictory directions.

The Second World War saw Spencer as an official war artist commissioned to paint the shipyard at Port Glasgow in Scotland, and a return to images of his first wife Hilda, such as Love Letters lent by the Thyssen Foundation, and Hilda and I at Pond Street, made four years after her death, from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Throughout the show there is a continuing theme of Spencer's self-portraits, ending with the very poignant image of 1959 when he already knew he was dying from cancer.

A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition. The exhibition is curated by the artist and writer Timothy Hyman and the cultural historian, Patrick Wright.

Spencer Stanley
The Resurrection, Cookham 1924-7
Tate 2001.
Presented by W. Graham Robertson 1939

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