Published by Ben Uri, supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, November 2014.
Catalogue for the Ben Uri exhibition Refiguring the 50s: Joan Eardley, Sheila Fell, Eva Frankfurther, Josef Herman and L S Lowry (14 November 2014 – 22 February 2015)
Edited by Sarah MacDougall with contributions from leading scholars in the field including Christopher Andreae, Dr Margaret Garlake, Cate Haste, David Herman, Claire Stewart and Dr Judith Walsh.
This exhibition and publication brings together for the first time the work of five powerful, individual, figurative painters working in Britain in the 1950s: Joan Eardley (1921-1963), Sheila Fell (1931-1979), Eva Frankfurther (1930-1959), Josef Herman (1911-2000) and L S Lowry (1887-1976). Spanning 1945-64, it showcases their range, inventiveness and often widely differing approaches to figuration and practice in the pivotal postwar period. The publication includes 100 illustrations from both public and private collections.
Each artists strongly identified with a particular place (and its people), where they chose to live and work. Each place formed, for a significant part of their careers, the primary focus of their practice: Eardley, the Townhead area of Glasgow; Fell, the mining community and landscape of her native Aspatria, Cumbria; Frankfurther, London’s East End, as well as the multicultural working- class community in South Wales; and Lowry, the people of his industrial hometown of Manchester. Each produced a concentrated and coherent body of work imbued with this strong sense of place and the largely working-class people associated with it.
A network of relationships, both personal and professional, links all five: Herman and Lowry twice exhibited together in 1943 and 1955; Eardley met and was briefly mentored by Herman in London in the early 50s; Lowry attended Fell’s first exhibition and became a lifelong friend; Fell and Frankfurther overlapped at St Martin’s School of Art; and Herman and Frankfurther were exhibited together in a group show at the Ben Uri in 1956. In bringing together these five painters working with the realist tradition, this exhibition and publications aims to present a compelling alternative vision of postwar Britain in all its complexity.
Representing the Postwar World – Margaret Garlake
Refiguring the 50s: Curatorial Introduction – Sarah MacDougall
‘Partial, Passionate and Political’: Art Criticism in the 1950s – Judith Walsh
IN FOCUS Joan Eardley – Ann Steed
The Living Part of Glasgow: Joan Eardley – Christopher Andreae
IN FOCUS Sheila Fell – Steve Swallow
The Poetry of Place: Sheila Fell – Cate Haste
IN FOCUS Eva Frankfurther – Jorg Garbrecht
The Lives of Others: Eva Frankfurther – Sarah MacDougall
IN FOCUS Josef Herman – Agi Katz
As Though from Nowhere: Josef Herman – David Herman
IN FOCUS L S Lowry – Andrew Kalman
Going Deeper into Life: L S Lowry – Claire H Stewart