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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Art and artists

Saturday, January 14th., Cadogan Square, London.

I walked to the Leicester Galleries and on the way thought of a great idea for a modernised version of "Faust". I mean I thought it out in some detail. I had thought of it yesterday. Today I ordered a literal translation of Goethe's "Faust".

At Leicester Galleries a show of drawings and lithographs by Matisse. Compared to the price of his paintings the drawings were very low priced. I bought one drawing, 25 guineas, and two lithographs. 

Established in 1902 off Leicester Square, London, the galleries (Ernest Brown and Phillips Ltd), were directed by Oliver Brown and ran important exhibitions of modern French and British painting from the time of John Lavery to that of Henry Moore, Robert Medley and Mark Gertler. Their summer exhibitions became an important feature of their annual calendar of events. During their long existence over 1,400 exhibitions of paintings, watercolours, drawings, sculpture and prints were staged. Every exhibition was accompanied with a catalogue, many with prefaces by prominent writers. 'Artists of Fame and Promise' a yearly exhibition is particularly remembered as a stepping stone for many an artist who went on the find fame. These included Jacob Epstein, William Roberts, David Bomberg and Christopher Nevinson to name just a few. Such was the fame of the gallery that Camille Pissarro, Picasso and Henri Matisse were all given their first British solo exhibitions at the Galleries.

Also a show of paintings by John Armstrong which are causing some stir. I wasn't quite startled by their excellence. I had a talk with Armstrong, who was looking quite spick and span in relatively new clothes. He said, in reply to my questions, that he had been chiefly influenced by Carpaccio (a Venetian painting of which he had never seen the original) and Signorelli. Also Picasso.

John Armstrong  (1893 - 1973) Painter of imaginative subjects, designer of film and stage sets, mural painter and book illustrator. Studied at St John's College, Oxford, 1912–13, and at St John's Wood School of Art 1913–14. Served in the Royal Field Artillery 1914–19 and returned to St John's Wood School for a short period after the war. First one-man exhibition at the Leicester Galleries 1928. Member of Unit One 1933, and his work then began to be Surrealist in character. Painted murals for the ceiling of Bristol Council Chamber 1956 and Shell Mex House. His theatrical d├ęcor includes designs for Riverside Nights, Macbeth and Measure for Measure (Old Vic); Magic Flute (Sadler's Wells Opera Company); the ballet Facade; and films produced by Sir Alexander Korda: Henry VIII, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Rembrandt, etc. Official War Artist 1940–5.

Additionally for January 14th., see 'Heading South' -

But my thoughts were chiefly occupied with the idea of the train, that luxurious complete entity - running through a country and ignoring it. I seldom had the least idea where the train was. Space, as a notion, had vanished for me. I might have been in the void.

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