With over 30 artworks, Tate Britain presents a comprehensive survey of Patrick Caulfield’s art until September 1st.
In the early 1960’s, Patrick Caulfield (1936–2005) studied at the Royal Academy of Arts alongside David Hockney and Allen Jones. Since then, he has been known for his vibrant paintings that were defying current trends.
For instance, he rejected gestural brushstrokes. Has he been influenced by his early work in a commercial design studio?
In 1964, Caulfield took part in the exhibition the New Generation at the Whitechapel Gallery. Thereafter, he was associated with Pop Art. He has been rejecting this affiliation his whole life. Caulfield depicted himself as a formal artist and cited Fernand Léger, Georges Braques and Juan Gris as his influences. A light-hearted homage to Gris is presented in the first room of the exhibition.
There is a plethora of reference to mass culture and mundane objects in Caulfield’s works. How difficult it is not to think about Pop Art! It spontaneously comes to mind especially in front of Pottery, an accumulation of vividly colorful pots.
A difference could be drawn. Where Pop Art often points at the kitsch in a given culture, there seems to be a persistent sense of attachment to objects and places in Caulfied’s works.
A record player and its speakers make you wonder. What was he listening at the time? Pink Floyd? Jimmy Hendrix? Probably David Bowie, who has lent a work from his collection to the museum.
In After Lunch, the popular culture seems erased, neutralized. The eyes are drawn to the photorealist image. Unlike the seemingly bored waiter, the viewer wants to know more about this picturesque image. It is a depiction of the Chillon Castle located on the banks of Lake Geneva. This castle has been depicted repeatedly by Gustave Courbet, the Realist and the Rebel.
Like in this painting and with his technique Patrick Caulfield seems to have undertaken a peaceful revolution. The ordinary made extraordinary seems to be the thread of his work that influenced in turn artists like Gary Hume and maybe more clearly Julian Opie.
Until September 1st, 2013 | www.tate.org.uk | Tickets give access to Gary Hume
Text by Reine Okuliar