Patrick Caulfield (b. 29/01/1936)
1936, 29th January : Born in London
|Nationality:||British||Approach:||Pop Art: uses flat, unmodelled colour and a thick black outline|
1963-71: Taught at Chelsea School of Art
1986: Selected 'The Artist's Eye' at the National Gallery, London
Lives and works in London
A reticent man, he remained wary of being identified with any movement but came to be associated with Pop art chiefly through his participation in the New Generation exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, in 1964.
1960s: Caulfield's painting was characterized by flat images of objects paired with angular geometric devices or isolated against unmodulated areas of colour. In Portrait of Juan Gris (1963; priv. col., see Livingstone, 1981 exh. cat., no. 5) Caulfield paid tribute to the Cubist painter, whose work, with that of other early modernists such as Léger and Magritte, set the terms for the stylization and formal rigour of his own still-lifes, landscapes and interiors. He adopted the anonymous technique of the sign painter, dispensing with visible brushwork and distracting detail and simplifying the representation of objects to a basic black outline in order to present ordinary images as emblems of a mysterious reality. He deliberately chose subjects that seemed hackneyed or ambiguous in time: not only traditional genres (e.g. Still-life with Dagger, 1963; London, Tate) but selfconsciously exotic and romantic themes (The Artist's Studio, 1964; AC Eng) and views of ruins and the Mediterranean (View of the Bay, 1964; Lisbon, Mus. Gulbenkian).
Gradually Caulfield's attention shifted to the architectural elements to which he had earlier made isolated reference. Inside a Weekend Cabin (1969; Manchester, C.A.G) was one of the earliest of a series of interiors atmospherically suffused with a single enveloping colour. The saturation of the entire surface with only one hue bears comparison with the monochrome paintings of Minimalism, which seem to have influenced him in this direction. Much of Caulfield's imagery, as well as the elements of kitsch, vulgarity and bad taste in which he revelled, was taken from books published in the 1950s on interior decoration. However, he stopped well short of satire as too crude and predictable a response. Instead he used these settings to convey a subtle range of introspective and melancholy moods. He also gained a solid reputation for his screenprints, the first of which, Ruins (1964; see Robertson, 1981 exh. cat., no. 1), was commissioned by the ICA. The medium suited his taste for vivid areas of flat colour and his extreme economy of means, which seemed to confirm the similar alliance in his paintings of decorative opulence with technical austerity.
In works such as After Lunch (1975; London, Tate; see fig.), Caulfield began to insert highly detailed passages in the manner of Photorealism into his characteristically stylized idiom, playing to great effect with ambiguous definitions of reality and artifice. In later works such as Still-life: Autumn Fashion (1978; Liverpool, Walker A.G.) he amplified this profusion of styles in increasingly elaborate still-lifes, analysing the conventions of 20th-century painting with wit and panache while maintaining the formal impact. Always a slow and exacting worker, he sustained a high level of pictorial invention, for example in his mural for the London Life headquarters in Bristol (1982; 6 x 6 m). During the 1980s he again turned to a more stripped-down aesthetic, particularly in such large paintings as The Blue Posts (2.90 x 2.06 m, 1989; London, Brit. Council), in which the precise disposition of only a few identifiable elements miraculously transforms an ostensibly abstract picture through the creation of a vivid sense of place.
1960-63: Studied at Royal College of Art, London
1956-60: Studied at Chelsea School of Art, London
1984: Commissioned to design the sets and costumes for Michael Corder's new ballet 'Party Game's' at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
1983: Commissioned to design the London Life mural, for The London Life Association's new headquarters in Bristol
Details from: Patrick Caulfield: Paintings 1963-1992, ed. Andreas Papadakis. Art & Design Profile No.27. Art & Design Volume 7, 5/6 May-June 1992, Academy Editions, London and Tate Gallery, London
Works by Patrick Caulfield
Patrick Caulfield 1974
Patrick Caulfield 1974