In order to understand the art of a certain country, one needs to have good knowledge of the language and culture of the artist, of the historical and social moment in which the work was created and sometimes even about the artist’s personal life and views. However, many art critics argue for the freedom of interpretation and put emphasis on the individual experience of the piece itself. It is absolutely indisputable, however, that art IS greatly influenced by the world in which it was created and that understanding it helps. The process can also be reverse – art can help people learn about the culture and the people who created it.
In this article, several British painters and their works which might inspire you to explore British culture, tradition and history will be presented.
The list will start with J. M. W. Turner, an English painter belonging to the era of Romanticism. Best known for his known for his expressive use of colors, landscapes that evoke imagination and controversial, violent marine paintings, Turner was a child prodigy who got accepted by the Royal Academy of Arts at the age of just 14. In 2003, there was an exhibition named “Turner’s Britain” and his The Fighting Temerairei which depicts the Battle of Trafalgar was chosen as Britain’s favorite painting in a poll organized by BBC.
Also belonging to the Romantic Age, the next painter is William Blake. Many of you may have heard this name in reference to his poetry. He was proclaimed by many critics as the greatest artist Britain has ever had. His art was greatly influenced by religion even though he was a very harsh critic of the Church. He also believed in the ideas and ideals promoted by the American and French Revolutions.
Howard Hodgkin a British painter and printmaker whose work is often synonymous with the word abstraction. He was the first openly gay painter in the UK and was named one of the 100 most influential gay people by The Independent – a title he earned by using his art to encourage people to express themselves freely. A unique characteristic of his creative process is that he believed the frame to be the intrinsic part of the artwork itself. In some of his quotes he said that if he were to paint something that would be direct it would be like handing a piece of fruit on a plate to the audience. He also believed that people are scared of the paintings which have some obvious emotions and feel more at ease looking at some which are more placid in nature. One of his collections of painting worth seeing is named Indian Collection.
The last one to be presented here is Richard Hamilton, who was an English painter and collage artist. He often used everyday materials of consumerist society such as newspapers and magazines or plastic in the creation of his collages. Tate Gallery in Britain is the one with the largest number of his pieces from different periods of his creative life. Hamilton had the honor to do the illustrations for James Joyce’s Ulysses. He is considered to be the one to start off the pop art movement.