Vanessa Bell & Patti Smith

Vanessa Bell (1879–1961), Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21, until 4th June 2017

Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf, c. 1912, oil on board, 40 x 34 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 5933. © National Portrait Gallery, London

Vanessa Bell,
Virginia Woolf, c. 1912,
oil on board, 40 x 34 cm,
National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 5933.
© National Portrait Gallery, London

This exhibition celebrates the work of Vanessa Bell who, whilst regarded as a member of the Bloomsbury Group, was also very much a stand-alone artist in her own right.

Vanessa Bell, Asheham House, 1912, Oil on board, 47 x 53.5 cm, Private Collection. © The Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy of Henrietta Garnett. Photo credit: Photography by Matthew Hollow

Vanessa Bell,
Asheham House, 1912,
Oil on board, 47 x 53.5 cm,
Private Collection.
© The Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy of Henrietta Garnett. Photo credit: Photography by Matthew Hollow

The show traces her move from her earlier Impressionist-based training to her more radical approach featuring form, colour and abstraction. Often Bell gets somewhat overshadowed by the circle she lived in – Virginia Woolf (sister), Clive Bell (husband), and fellow artists Duncan Grant and Roger Fry. We see how she rejected Victorian concepts of motherhood and home-making to create a place of freedom as her work with the Omega Workshop reveals.

Vanessa Bell 1879–1961, Design for Omega Workshops Fabric, 1913, Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paper, Image: 53.3 × 40.7 cm, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund. 3353 - B1992.14.2 © The Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy of Henrietta Garnett

Vanessa Bell 1879–1961,
Design for Omega Workshops Fabric, 1913,
Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paper, Image: 53.3 × 40.7 cm,
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund. 3353 – B1992.14.2
© The Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy of Henrietta Garnett

Sarah Milroy, the show’s curator, says: “Unconventional in her approach to both art and life, Bell’s art embodies many of the progressive ideas that we still are grappling with today, expressing new ideas about gender roles, sexuality, personal freedom, pacifism, social and class mores and the open embrace of non-British cultures. This is the perfect moment in which to re-evaluate Bloomsbury, and Bell’s legacy within it, and we look forward to affirming her importance to a contemporary audience.”

Vanessa Bell,
The Other Room, late 1930s,
161 x 174 cm,
Private Collection,
© The Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy of Henrietta Garnett. Photo credit: Photography by Matthew Hollow

 

 

Brandon Camp, 1913. From top left: Julian Stephen, Daphne Olivier, Noel Olivier, Noel Olivier, Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell Photographs by Vanessa Bell and others, in Vanessa Bell’s album, Tate (TGA 9020/3) © Tate Archive, London 2016.

Brandon Camp, 1913. From top left: Julian Stephen, Daphne Olivier, Noel Olivier, Noel Olivier, Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell
Photographs by Vanessa Bell and others, in Vanessa Bell’s album, Tate (TGA 9020/3)
© Tate Archive, London 2016.

Alongside this exhibition is Legacy: Photographs by Vanessa Bell and Patti Smith (until 4th June 2017) which features photographs by the famous musician, writer and artist, Patti Smith alongside albums belonging to Vanessa Ball. In 2003 Smith had a residency at Charleston and her comments reflect her interest in the works of the Bloomsbury Group.   – “Art was a part of everyday living. Their cups and saucers were designed by themselves, their utensils, the wallpaper, tapestries. When I first came here I found it just like home […] I felt a real longing to document this place in the same manner that I document my own home because it is very much how I live: books everywhere, things that seem very humble, very sacred, a simple wooden box, a shell, a paint tube – everything has significance.”

Patti Smith, Vanessa Bell’s Library, Duncan Grant’s painting of Vanessa Bell in her Mother’s Dress, 2006, Gelatin silver print, edition of 10, 25.4 × 20.32 cm, © Patti Smith. Courtesy the artist and Robert Miller Gallery

Patti Smith,
Vanessa Bell’s Library, Duncan Grant’s painting of Vanessa Bell in her Mother’s Dress, 2006,
Gelatin silver print, edition of 10, 25.4 × 20.32 cm,
© Patti Smith. Courtesy the artist and Robert Miller Gallery

http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

Retreat and Rebellion

Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion, Two Temple Place, London WC2, until 23rd April 2017

Duncan Grant (1885 -1978) Bathers by the Pond,c1920-21 Oil on canvas, 49x 90cm, Pallant House Gallery (Hussey Bequest, Chichester District Council) © 1978 Estate of Duncan Grant, courtesy Henrietta Garnett / DACS 2016

Duncan Grant (1885 -1978)
Bathers by the Pond,c1920-21
Oil on canvas, 49x 90cm,
Pallant House Gallery (Hussey Bequest, Chichester District Council)
© 1978 Estate of Duncan Grant, courtesy Henrietta Garnett / DACS 2016

While to many of us the coast or countryside of Sussex appear idyllic places to live in the first half of the 20th century avant-garde artists and writers were drawn to live there.  Their communities were experimental whether artistically or domestically.

Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion 28th January –23rd April 2017 Two Temple Place, London WC2R 3BD All images courtesy of Two Temple Place and Rohan van Twest

Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion 28th January –23rd April 2017
Two Temple Place, London WC2R 3BD
All images courtesy of Two Temple Place and Rohan van Twest

At Charleston Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant not only painted but created interiors whose appeal lasts to the present day while at Ditchling Eric Gill and David Jones followed the arts and crafts tradition and at West Dean Edward James with Salvador Dali followed the Surrealist road (see my blog A Surreal Legacy, 07/12/2016).

David Jones (1895-1974) Madonna and Child in a Landscape, 1924 Oil on canvas, 61 x 61 cm, Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft © Trusteesof the David Jones estate. Image courtesy of Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

David Jones (1895-1974)
Madonna and Child in a Landscape, 1924
Oil on canvas, 61 x 61 cm,
Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft
© Trusteesof the David Jones estate. Image courtesy of Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

Add to this mix artists such as Edward Burra, Serge Chermayeff, Eric Ravilious, Henry Moore, John Piper, Lee Miller, Eileen Agar and Paul Nash and you will see how they individually reacted to their surroundings – some embracing and others more unsettled by them.

Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion 28th January –23rd April 2017 Two Temple Place, London WC2R 3BD All images courtesy of Two Temple Place and Rohan van Twest

Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion 28th January –23rd April 2017
Two Temple Place, London WC2R 3BD
All images courtesy of Two Temple Place and Rohan van Twest

The exhibition’s curator Dr Hope Wolfe summed it up saying: “The metropolis has long been assumed to be a catalyst for Modernism: a melting pot in which people from different places could meet, exchange ideas, and explore new ways of thinking and making. This exhibition asks what experimental artists, writers and makers of other kinds were doing in Sussex in the early twentieth century. For some, a rural retreat provided an opportunity for escape and alternative living. Enclaves were made of homes and communities, although works created in them are often suggestive of anxieties that accompanied attempts to break with convention. Others critiqued their new contexts, troubling the idea of Sussex as an idyll and sparking controversy with work created for local audiences. Comparing the lives and works of makers associated with different modernist movements, the exhibition illustrates how the regional setting both amplified their contrary energies and facilitated their attempts to live and represent the world differently. In turn, it shows how seemingly picturesque scenes were reimagined and transformed by the unsettled artist.”

 

 

Exhibition Opening Times: Monday, Thursday – Saturday: 10am – 4:30pm Wednesday Late: 10am – 9pm, Sunday: 11am – 4:30pm, Closed on Tuesday

www.twotempleplace.org