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Saturday, 24 November 2012

Interesting artistic experiences

Friday, November 24th., London.

H.G. Wells told me his scheme for a whole series of new books, some being novels. He wants monarchy destroyed, of course, and to have a new religion (that there is one God - and apparently he can be what you like) without priests and churches. He thought very little of British high command at the front, and had difficulties with the Censor about his articles on Front, and meant to say what he thought in a book to be issued in January.
I was still suffering yesterday from my stomach chill, but I wrote a thousand words.
I went up to the Omega workshops by appointment to see Roger Fry.

Roger Eliot Fry (1866 – 1934) was an English artist and art critic, and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Establishing his reputation as a scholar of the Old Masters, he became an advocate of more recent developments in French painting, to which he gave the name Post-Impressionism. He was the first figure to raise public awareness of modern art in Britain, and emphasized the formal properties of paintings over the "associated ideas" conjured in the viewer by their representational content. He was described by the art historian Kenneth Clark as "incomparably the greatest influence on taste since Ruskin... In so far as taste can be changed by one man, it was changed by Roger Fry".

Arrived as arranged at 2.30. I was told he was out. Then that he was at his studio down Fitzroy Street. I went there and rang. He opened door.
"Come and have lunch," he said. "I've had lunch, it's 2.30," I said. "How strange!" he said. "I thought it was only 1.15." Then as he went upstairs he cried out to a girl above: "Blank (her Xtian name), it's 2.30," as a great item of news. Fry expounded his theories. He said there was no original industrial art in England till he started i.e., untraditional. He said lots of goodish things and was very persuasive and reasonable. Then he took me to the showrooms in Fitzroy Square, and I bought a few little things. I did not buy a fine still life by Duncan Grant. But I may, later. I gradually got to like a number of the things, especially the stuffs. He said manufacturing (English) firms roared with laughter at his suggestion that they should do business together. One firm quoted an impossible price when he asked them to make rugs to his design at his risks. But when a eulogistic article appeared in The Times they quoted a lower price, a reasonable one. He said that both French and German firms would take his stuff. I began to get more and more pleased with the stuff, and then I left with two parcels.
This morning I went to Carfax Gallery and bought a Sickert from the Sickert stand there, "Coster Girl".

William Rothenstein
In 1898 William Rothenstein co-founded the Carfax Gallery in St. James' Piccadilly with John Fothergill . During its early years the gallery was closely associated with such artists as Charles Conder, Philip Wilson Steer, Charles Ricketts and Augustus John. It also exhibited the work of Auguste Rodin, whose growing reputation in England owed much to Rothenstein's friendship and missionary zeal. The gallery was later the home for all three exhibitions of The Camden Town Group, led by Rothenstein's friend and close contemporary Walter Sickert.

Had some talk with the proprietor who was highly intelligent, and stuck to it that Claude Phillips, though he couldn't write, had real taste. The boss thought Sickert the greatest artist of the age.

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