Patrick Caulfield. (1936-2005) was an English painter and printmaker. He studied art at the Chelsea school of art and the Royal Collage of arts respectively.
Caulfield is accredited as being part of the Pop Art movement. Although he himself was never happy with this label. Personally I think the look of his work fits with the Pop art movement. Although he dose not draw on references from popular culture like Liechtenstein and Warhole, he does use generic items such as jugs and vases that would be mass produced for a hungry consumer market.
The fact he pares down what he sees to very simple shapes is a technique widely used by the artist involved in pop art. Also with his handling of the figure his scenes take on a comic book like quality which you can clearly see in Greece Expiring on the ruins of Missolonghi (after Delacroix) (1963) oil on board, 1524x1219mm Tate collection.
Here he uses the composition and the main central figure of the bare breasted lady liberty from Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (1830) oil on canvas.
Caulfield was a year bellow the british pop art group in college. Instead he claimed to take influence from the earlier cubist and modernist movements.
In the early 60’s Caulfield developed his signature style of flat plans of colour with no visibly brush strokes. A style more common with commercial sign writers.
In the late 60’s his work began to shift to involve architectural elements. Often described purely by line whilst the block colour is used to describe shadow and light or positive and negative spaces.
Perhaps Caulfield most seminal work is After Lunch (1975) acrylic on canvas, 2.49×2.13 m, which hangs in the Tate Britain.
I saw it recently on a trip I have previously written up. The painting is predominately blue, a lighter shade in the top half implies a light source. Line drawing depicts a chair, table, wall and door all in real life perspective. Surreal elements are bought in with a mans head and upper torso appearing through what could be a door in the wall. A fish tank positioned centre right on the canvas has a few orange fish in it. Behind this most interestingly is a photo realistic painting of a landscape scene. A lake and castle nestled in an alpine forest. In such contrast is it to the rest of the painting that I did initially mistake it to be a photo collage.
After Lunch was the first in a sires of works with contrasting realistic and representational elements in them.
He returns to a more simplified style with the White Wear prints. A series of graphic prints in monochromatic or duo-tone colours that were created by the artist in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Each print takes a vase or jug as the subject which is represented simply by its silhouette, which is usually left white. Caulfield then indicates the light source by leaving the paper white in these areas. The shadow area are shown in black brown or grey. H sometimes adds a shape of purple or green to indicate an object behind the white vase. He uses positive and negative space in these striking and simplified depiction’s of figurative scenes.
In 1987 he was work was recognised with nominated for the Turner Prize.
Caulfield’s work draws to mind the work of contemporary painter Gary Hume. Who also favours a simplified representational style. Part of the YBA’s Hume often uses gloss household emulsion paint of a metallic back ground. This gives the paintings an enamelled appearance. He’s work is often figurative. Generic portraits simplified to line drawings with two or three colours to fill in the positive and negative shapes. His pallet tends to be brighter and more acidic than Caulfield’s. But there are obvious similarities in the way the two men work.
I find it’s not just me that thinks this! Here’s a date for the diary.
Coming to Tate Britain on the 5th June – 1st September is a Hume and Caulfield exhibition run concurrently to each other.
Here’s my sketch book pages showing my doodles in the style of Patrick Caulfield. The first one I did was the window sill. I refined it again in the yellow and purple thumb nail version right as I thought perhaps I had used too many colours. The thumb nail shows a two colour combo which I quite like.
- A4 sketcher
- Felt tip pen
- Colouring pencils
I continued and upscaled the two light images. I thought they are more coherent with the ‘white Wear prints for there limited pallets and one object focus. I did a large version of both because I think they complement each other and I was easy to do the colouring in whilst watching t.v in the evening.