The Challenge of Post War Painting

3 June - 4 September 2004

Important works by Frank Auerbach, Alan Davie, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron, Ivon Hitchens, Peter Lanyon, Henry Moore, William Scott and William Turnbull.

Continuing our ongoing series of curated exhibitions devoted to the greatest British artists of the twentieth century, James Hyman Gallery are delighted to be holding a major exhibition addressing one of the most exciting periods in twentieth century British art history, the dynamic years of change after the Second World War.

After the disruption of the Second World War, modern British artists, whether abstract or figurative, were involved in international attempts to rejuvenate art through expressive new languages of painting. The Challenge of Post-War Painting focuses on this key moment for twentieth century British art.

A reassessment of this period, The Challenge of Post-War Painting presents some of the most important British art of the post-war years to address the relationship between abstraction and figuration and to explore the radicalism of post-war British art.

Frank Auerbach's major early painting, Primrose Hill (1954), displays his prodigious early talent, leading early commentators to compare him to Dubuffet and Giacometti. Alan Davie's monumental museum piece The Creation of Eve (1957) reveals ambitions that rival those of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Peter Lanyon's Beach Girl (1961), which the artist considered to be one of his most significant paintings, shows his powerful fusion of figure and landscape. Ivon Hitchens' epic The Fountain of Acis (1964), one of the largest and most ambitious paintings the artist ever attempted, shows him asserting his position in the face of challenges by younger artists such as Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron.

Also included will be historically important works on paper by two of Britain's most important twentieth century sculptors, Henry Moore and William Turnbull. Moore's Sculpture in Landscape (1951) relates directly to one of his most famous sculptures, his reclining figure for the Festival of Britain, whilst Turnbull is represented by two extremely rare calligraphic heads from the mid 1950s.
In each case, as this exhibition demonstrates, it was not a polarized choice between abstraction or figuration, but rather the marrying of abstraction and figuration that contributed to this powerful new art.
exhibition is accompanied by an extensively illustrated catalogue with a lengthy new essay by Dr. James Hyman, Different Ways of Seeing: towards a reassessment of post-war British art as well as text on every work.