Kenneth Clark: Looking for Civilisation, Tate Britain, until 10th August 2014
This is a fascinating exhibition which shows the effect one man had on shaping the course of British Art. Many of you will remember the brilliant landmark series Civilisation 1969, which has influenced arts documentary-making to this day. He certainly believed that art should be accessible to all.
Clark (1903–1983) was Keeper of the Department of Fine Art at the Ashmolean Museum; Surveyor of the King’s Pictures and at the age of thirty he also became the National Gallery’s youngest Director. He was a patron of and supporter of contemporary British Art such as the Euston Road School and when war broke out in 1939 his private patronage became through various initiatives a project of the State and he employed artists such as Graham Sutherland, John Piper and Henry Moore to record the effect of war on the country and its citizens. As a result of his enthusiasm and influence art became a more recognisable part of British life in the ensuing decades. Certainly his various television appearances, including the aforementioned Civilisation, also helped.
The exhibition also reveals Clark’s own eclectic tastes in the fine and decorative arts and includes a selection of works drawn from both Eastern and Western disciplines that he collected for his personal enjoyment and appreciation in his homes.
I found this exhibition a delight and warmly recommend it to you all.