Patrick Caulfield b.London 1936-2005
After graduating from Chelsea School of Art, Patrick Caulfield moved to the Royal College in 1960. Whilst there he studied with Derek Boshier, David Hockney, Allen Jones and R B Kitaj who were one year his senior. His work was selected for the 1964 New Generation show at the Whitechapel and the following year he held his first one-man show at the Robert Fraser Gallery, the home of cutting edge art at that time. So it is little wonder that he became associated with the so-called Second Wave of Pop artists although he was reluctant to wear that label.
His chosen subjects were more often than not seemingly mundane and everyday but always rendered with wit and affection. Scale is important. Whether it was a large painting or a print, objects were usually ‘actual size’ as the ad man might say.
People seldom featured in his work. One notable exception is the 1961 work Greece expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi (after Delacroix) which he based not on the actual painting but a black and white reproduction, another acknowledgment of the Pop ethos.
His technique was unique. Areas of flat, often vibrant colour, are surrounded by an unmodulated black line that expresses form. Screenprint was an ideal graphic medium as it perfectly emulated his paintings. After incorporating elements of trompe l’oeil, even impasto, his style evolved relying on an undefined light source to model the subject.
A small painting in the collection of the Arts Council called Selected Grapes is a beautiful summation of Patrick Caulfield’s career. Part of it is rendered in the flat colour/black line style, part trompe l’oeil, and the remainder using light. The whole is deliciously cohesive.
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