The first ‘Modern British’ piece of art my wife and I every bought was a work by Victor Pasmore, purchased at auction from Christies in South Kensington (which, as an aside, has recently closed – presumably due to costs and the increase in the online art sales medium).
The work had originally been sold by The Marlborough gallery – a small but prestigious London gallery located on Albermarle Street, just off Piccadilly. Marlborough represented Pasmore for most of the later part of his life and they now administer his artistic estate.
Victor Pasmore was an artistic revolutionary of the twentieth century. He started out as a traditional figurative and landscape painter, and then in the late 1940’s moved to abstract and then on to constructivism.
The influential art historian, Herbert Read, once described Pasmore’s new style as “the most revolutionary event in the post war British art world”. The artist eventually became an establishment figure in the art world, becoming a trustee of the Tate. He was also elected Vice President of the Turner Society and gave a lecture on JMW Turner entitled ‘First of the Moderns’.
I recently attended ‘Space as Motif’ at the Marlborough Gallery, which had a selection of works being sold by the Pasmore Estate produced by the artist between 1960 and 1970. Most of the works were constructions and all were reflective of this productive and rich period of his life.
One of the more unusual pieces was a mural painted on linen which had been produced for his retrospective exhibition at the Tate in 1965. It was thought lost until it was unearthed very recently at his house in Blackheath by his son.
The work that I liked the most was entitled Points of Contact, Green Development, 1965, which combined a wonderful simplicity of colour with his constructivist ethos.
There were some interesting press cuttings about Pasmore and a fascinating letter from the artist to Ben Nicholson also on display.
The exhibition has now sadly finished. Until another Pasmore retrospective is scheduled for the UK, those curious to see more of his work may wish to combine a trip to Malta with the Victor Pasmore gallery in Valleta.