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Jar by Patrick Caulfield

Critical accounts of Caulfield's decision, around 1963, to work with thick black drawing and flat colours, have sought a point of origin in earlier cultures (Minoan frescoes) or previous twentieth century art (Leger, Davis, Gris). Or else a biographical approach 'explains' Caulfield's move to reject contemporary art school modes of painting. Reference to some 'ideal type' of 'Pop Art' as a tool to further analysis usually became caught up in art political debates to do with relations between England and America or with normalising modern art, producing Caulfield as some traditional European still life artist.
Anne Seymour even went as far as to state, in 1964, that Caulfield's stylistic characteristics 'do not relate to printed advertisements and the kind of shorthand they employ.' In a 1981 interview, however, Caulfield was happy to discuss the relationship between simplified assertive drawing and the hard sell of advertising; more traditional sign painting and mail order catalogue illustration also came up. The artist's handling creates a crude sign for an image and encourages us to see it as an already well-known image or cliché. Exotic or romantic imagery, as stereotypically presented in postcards or magazines, has occupied Caulfield's attention since his earliest mature works, and especially our culture's dream of the Mediterranean. The studio pottery represented in 'Jug' and 'Jar' is already a token of that dream (notice the conspicuous drip of glazing), and it is located in an environment of patios and converted cottages. One suddenly realises the ubiquity of such cultural signs throughout British suburbia.
Apart from a commissioned print in 1964, Caulfield's serious print-production began in 1967 and, in the year before these two prints, he had produced his illustrations to 'The Poems of Jules Laforgue', which made evident the psychological overtones possible even within a simplified representation of objects. Caulfield's print production at the Kelpra Studio has been extensive. Around the time of these two prints, his paintings of interiors were becoming exceedingly large and complicated, and his prints tended to focus on simple still lifes. Imagery of vessels had appeared in 1967, but especially in 1979-80 vases became a real topic of focus. As fine furnishing, often mass-produced and replicating styles from other times or places, they posit a relationship with the pictorial 'furnishing' of the print itself.
Artist:Patrick Caulfield
Artwork type:screen print
Style/Period:early work
Material:ink, paper
Measurements:651 x 546 mm
Technique:screen print
Location:Arts & Humanities Research Council, Whitefriars, Lewins Mead, Bristol, BS1 2AE. View by appointment; please contact the AHRC's Facilities Manager on 01179 876 500
Rights owner:Patrick Caulfield
Rights status:UK HE use only
Institution:Council for National Academic Awards

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