Thursday, 11 December 2014

L.S. Lowry in the Library's Art Gallery Gift collection

More gems unearthed in the Art Gallery Gift collection

We have now added over two and a half thousand items to the Library's stock from the York Art Gallery gift collection. Among my favourites are a collection of books detailing the works of Lancashire-born artist L. S. Lowry, best-known for painting industrial and urban landscapes of the North-West of England.

Cover / A memorial exhibition of paintings & drawings by L. S. Lowry, R.A., 20th May-3rd July 1976 
Lefevre Gallery, 1976

Lowry worked as a rent-collector in Manchester, wandering the streets he was fascinated with the urban world around him and its inhabitants. Many of his city landscape pictures featured crowds of enigmatic figures, barely distinguishable from one another, and reflected the complex and unresolved relationship between the people and the city. The image below, called 'Old Property', is a typical example of his style. The painting can be found on page 17 of A memorial exhibition of paintings & drawings by L. S. Lowry, R.A., 20th May-3rd July 1976Lefevre Gallery, 1976.

Old Property (Main Street Tweedmouth) on the Lowry Trail in Berwick upon Tweed.
Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence by permission of the Europe a la Carte blog

Other scenes featured desolate wastelands; particularly brooding were those painted in the 1930s, a period of unhappiness and growing isolation for Lowry as he took care of his bedridden mother. Out of this period also came one of Lowry's most striking and disturbing works. The Head of a Man (1938) is a disconcerting portrait full of frustration and despair, a dark illustration of the artist's mental state at the time (page 78 in the  Lefevre Gallery book).

The Copley Prize December Winner, Lowry Gallery. Supervisor Jacob holds up Daniel's interpretation of Head of a Man (With Red Eyes) 
in front of LS Lowry's original. Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence.
Nonetheless, L. S. Lowry was a prolific and varied artist, regarded as one of the most important 20th Century British painters. To learn more you can find the books about him in the collection by keyword searching for 'Lowry York City Art Gallery' using the University Library catalogue here:

And York has a direct local connection with Lowry too. According to the York Art Gallery's website:
In 1952 [we] commissioned L.S. Lowry to paint a picture of York. He chose to paint Clifford’s Tower and his painting is now one of the most important modern works of art in the gallery’s collection. (From 'Lowry in York School Challenge')
You can view his painting online here:

and the rest of the Gallery's oil paintings can be seen here:

They're currently running a competition for schoolchildren to use his painting of Clifford's Tower as inspiration to create a new artwork. The winning entries will be displayed in York Art Gallery when it reopens in 2015.

And finally, here's a photo of the man himself, taken in 1962, contemplating the industrial landscape of Stockport.

Photo Credit: Smabs Sputzer via Compfight cc

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