Whilst preparing our ghoulish outfits etc for Halloween, we were, at the same time, half watching a UK antiques programme on TV.
At one point my attention was directed towards a rather poor painting of a 'Stately Home', that the programme's presenter, Paul Martin, described as a work of genius.
The painting was by L S Lowry, who Martin went on to describe as 'One of England's Greatest Artists'.
Lowry studied at the Manchester School of Art under Pierre Adolphe Valette, and his work can often be mistaken for that of Valette; making it as close to plagiarism as is legally allowable.
Personally I have always thought of Lowry as a 'novelty painter', in the same ilk as Beryl Cook, or Alfred Wallis. I would never describe him as a 'Great Artist'; nor would I Cook or Wallis.
I welcome your opinions about Lowry; have I missed something? Was Martin right?
I know nothing about art... but Lowry always looked very naive to my untrained eye.ReplyDelete
Jo in Auckland
That was his aim. Simplify to cartoon status.Delete
I don't know whether he is a good painter or not. I think good painters are the likes of Turner.ReplyDelete
I enjoy his paintings as I do the Scottish chap Valentinio or whatever he was called. He painted ladies being a little risque. Probably made ice cream as well.
There are 'painter's painters', and 'the public's painters'. Lowry was the latter.Delete
I saw that Stately Home painting on Flog it too and thought it looked pretty boring and flat.ReplyDelete
I don't mind his people paintings but wouldn't class them as wonderful but I only did art O level so what do I know!
It wasn't really a good painting. There was no sense of composition, and (as you say) had no life in it.Delete
I like Lowry's naive style and his attention to detail. The paintings are not caricatures. The northern towns were really like that with their chimneys, whippets and equally thin people. Today I'd say they are historical documents. OK they are Canaletto, but a film maker or an architect for example could recreate the scenes using the paintings as a template. I think Turner is one of the world's most overrated painters. It's all smoke and mirrors. He made one good painting. And then he went downhill, or rather he dashed them all off showing the so called grimy and blurry 'light'. Using a musical example I'd compare him to Vivaldi. At least with Lowry you can actually make out the subjects and see the humour and pathos in them.ReplyDelete
'are not Canaletto' I missed the 'not'.Delete
The next time you're in The Tate, have a look at Turner's watercolours; they are magnificent.Delete
I saw a huge collection of Turner paintings from many sources assembled in the Museo Correr in Venice one time. In truth they all looked the same. In all honesty I couldn't make them out. I thought there was something wrong with my eyes. I couldn't get out of there fast enough.Delete
He suffered from both colour-blindness and cataracts; it is though that his paintings are exactly what he saw.Delete
I went to the Lowry art gallery in Manchester and was amazed at some of his early work. Totally different from his " matchstick men". There were portraits of people he knew.Done in a more traditional way , as he was taught. More than one picture of certain people. Not sure if you could find them on internet.ReplyDelete
By chance I happened to be in Harrogate when there was an exhibition on of John Atkinson Grimshaw's work. I love his dark wet streets.Always with a moon shining down on them. I don't know if he is a good painter but his work has feeling. I was surprised at the size of the canvases.ReplyDelete
Some of Lowry's early life studies are very good; but most competent art students do as well. I don't know anything about Grimshaw; other than the name.Delete
Lowry could paint snow on a grey day like no other. He benefits from being shown in batches rather than isolation. A great painter in my eyes who was responsible for my love of all things northern and my move to live up north eventually. His work was introduced to us as 12 year olds at school by our geography teacher.ReplyDelete
I think had Paul Martin called him 'One of England's most popular artists' I would have agreed with him. I'm still not sure about the 'greatest' bit.Delete
He could capture a mood in a subtle way without really thinking about it and you don't have to stand oh'ing and ah'ing, to get it.Delete
I don't know who Paul Martin is but I agree with what you say, but Lowry was great in his way. He would have made a good illustrator.Delete
Mr Martin presents 'Flog it' on BBC1; a pot-boiler antiques programme for tea-time.Delete
He captures a moment in time, whether he is good or bad artist I cannot tell but I still love this song ;)ReplyDelete
I wonder how many painters have had songs written about them? I know of 2; Van Gogh and Lowry, I expect there's more.Delete
Or crap films. 'Lust for Life' for instance.Delete
I really like the painting. If it is derivative or a style copy, no matter. Gwill W's comment was interesting.ReplyDelete
He was an interesting painter, it's the word 'greatest' that worries me.Delete
I saw his paintings at the RA back in the 70s. One painting was titled 'A bird looking at something'. His northern spirit captured a time, place and atmosphere perfectly, and I think that's why some regard him as great. Perhaps not technically, but poetically.ReplyDelete
I rather like some of his VERY simple paintings. I prefer them to the big grimey cityscapes.Delete
I like Lowrys paintings ...... honest and not up themselves ! ..... but I don’t like Paul Martin !!! I know someone who worked with him ! XXXXReplyDelete
That's put the cat amongst the pigeons. Go on, tell us more!!Delete
I prefer Alfred Wallis. I think Lowry affected naivety, but that isn't an insult. People like pictures full of identifiable detail. He wasn't a painter's painter, but that isn't a bad thing either.ReplyDelete
I think I prefer Wallis too. I would happily have one (an original) on the wall; as good a test as any other.Delete
I totally agree, even though he captures the look of the era in the industrial north (from where I hail originally.) The son of a neighbour of ours in the 1950s when we lived 'oop there', befriended Lowry and bought some of his paintings (i.e. direct from the artist.) These were sold at auction (bring in an eye-watering amount) some years ago and was known as The Fitton Collection. But for me, it's the Dutch masters that I love, Vemeer and De Hooch. I'm not actually fond of the Pre-Raphaelites either ... I admire their technique but not their subject matter.ReplyDelete
I wasn't trying to suggest that he isn't an interesting and important painter, just not a 'great'. I actually quite like some of his work, but only occasionally.Delete
That's a good way of describing his work, Cro: interesting but not great.Delete
I never liked Him, I think in part it is because he caught the gloomy grime of the north only too well. I went to university in Leeds for 3 years in late 1970s and there was still an echo of his world to be felt.ReplyDelete
I went to see Turner in the Tate and was shocked at what a poor artist he was. I went to a fascinating exhibition on Whistler last year and I would rather have him on the wall than either of them to be honest.
I've never heard of Turner referred to as a 'poor artist' before, but, of course, if we all liked the same stuff, life would be very tedious.Delete
A friend of mine owns a small Whistler pencil portrait of an ancestor. Every time I see it, I grow more jealous.
Cro, I agree with those of your responders who say he captures the spirit of the industrial North - there is a naivety about his painting (I sometimes wonder whether this is the thing that makes his pictures not altogether convincing). I also often wonder whether he did one or two pictures like this, found they were very popular and so kept reproducing them along similar lines. I quite like them but to me he is almost a caricaturist and certainly, I would agree with you, I wouldn't see him as 'great' in the same way that Turner is great.ReplyDelete
That's really all I was saying. Words such as 'Great' should be used sparingly.Delete
I like Lowry but I don't think I would ever call him a great painter.ReplyDelete
My thoughts exactly. A bit like always calling minor celebs 'Stars'.Delete
His stuff is in the 'Don't want it on my walls, but I'd like to sell it and have the money (or Monet)'.ReplyDelete
I agree. Sell it and buy something better.Delete