Thursday, August 21, 2014


T.J. Clark and Anne M. Wagner last year curated a major Tate show reviewing the career of English painter L.S. Lowry (1887-1976) who set the majority of his urban landscapes in and around Manchester. I have just experienced the high fun of reading the exhibition text, Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life. Here is a passage near the end of T.J. Clark's splendid essay 

"Ugliness was a subject, a reality; but also a cliche. Lowry was all too aware of the 'modern' fascination with the grotesque and deformed  and eventually succumbed to it. But what is strongest and most characteristic in his art, it seems to me, is something else: a feeling for aspects of the urban scene that constantly edge towards the ugly  even the Ugly with a capital 'U'  but never quite get there: drab colours, confined spaces, cheap fabrics, dilapidation, stiff movements, heartbreaking (but essentially innocent, 'business-like') non-architecture. The ugliness of such a world is 'the way things are': it is built into experience: human beings cannot afford to see it as they go about their daily rounds. The artist who does not understand this  that the an-aesthetic was a condition of survival  understands nothing." 

Industrial Landscape

The Pond

Football Match

Hillside in Wales


Lowry at Tate

L.S. Lowry