PRUNELLA CLOUGH (British, 1919 -1999)
Scrap metal in grass, 1958
Signed lower right
Oil on board
Label bearing title and date verso
Marked ‘Farley 737 verso which bears another label ‘Far Bar 367’
PROVENANCE : Private Collection, and thence by descent
EXHIBITION HISTORY : Prunella Clough, a retrospective exhibition, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, September – October 1960, No 87 Scap Metal in Grass, 1958, oil on board, private collection, the artist.
Board length 28 ½ cm., 8 ½ in., Height 28 ½ cm., 11¼ in
In an oak box frame. Frame length 34 cm., 13 3/8 in., Height 28 ½ cm., 11 ¼ in.,
The elements in this work have been simplified to their most basic form. Scrap Metal in grass has an extraordinary and unexpected magic because of the sheer sophistication and refinement in Clough’s handling of pigment, surfaces and textures which creates the reduced, quintessential character of her icon-like metal fragments amongst the grass.
The labels on the reverse refer to Farley Farm in East Sussex, the home of Roland Penrose and Lee Miller which came to be known as ‘The Home of The Surrealists in England’ and now holds a dazzling collection of artistic treasures. Farley’s became a meeting place for many of the most influential artists of the 20th century including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Paul Éluard and Henry Moore. Penrose and Miller held a number of exhibitions here, where this picture appears to have been shown twice.
One of Britain’s most respected post-war painters, Prunella Clough developed a highly personalised visual language that hovered between abstraction and figuration. She frequently depicted urban or industrial motifs derived from her London environment, and she would set these against a soft, indeterminate background. Throughout the 1950’s Clough’s treatment of the relationship between man and his constructed environment became more abstract and her focus broadened implying rather including human presence.
‘ I prefer to look at the urban or industrial scene or any unconsidered piece of ground. Looking at the ground does come into my painting… since I do not draw directly in landscape, it is the memory or recollection of a scene, which is also a whole event, that concerns me.. a painting is made from many events, rather than one; and in fact its sources are many layered and can be quite distant in time, are are rarely if ever direct..there is a vast discrepancy between the rawness of the original experience, walking around in any kind of urban wasteland, and the relatively tidied up and composted painting that comes from it. ’ PC
Widely regarded as one of the most interesting and significant British painters of the post-war period, Prunella Clough devoted her career to finding beauty in unconsidered aspects of the urban and industrial landscape. She scrutinised the surfaces and textures of the contemporary environment, transforming subjects such as lorries and factory yards, street litter and the bright colours of plastics into images of compelling mystery and beauty.
Clough’s essential claim to her strong position in modern British painting comes most centrally from the rare beauty and individuality of her work. But there is also the historic fact that she is the first woman painter in Britain to have achieved recognition entirely on her own terms.
• 1919 Born in Chelsea, London. Her father worked for the Board of Trade and her aunt was the architect designer Eileen Gray.
• 1937 Attended Chelsea School of Art (part-time). Studied design, life drawing and sculpture (where Henry Moore was a tutor).
• 1939-45 Worked in Office of War Information (USA) drawing charts and maps and working on magazine layouts.
• 1946-49 Studied with Victor Pasmore at Camberwell School of Art (part-time). Visited various fishing ports in East Anglia including Lowestoft.
• 1950s Was part of the group which included Michael Ayrton, Keith Vaughan, John Croxton and the poet Dylan Thomas that met in the Camden Hill Studio, which John Minton shared with Robert MacBryde and Robert Colquhoun. Work included in the 60 Paintings for ’51 Festival of Britain exhibition and the first Sao Paulo Biennale.
• 1956-69 Taught part-time at Chelsea School of Art.
• 1966-97 Taught part-time at Wimbledon School of Art.
• 1999 Awarded Jerwood Painting Prize. Died 26 December in London.
• Solo Exhibitions
• 1947 Leger Gallery, London
• 1949 Roland Browse and Delbanco, London
• 1953 Leicester Galleries, London
• 1960 Whitechapel Gallery, London
• 1964 Grosvenor Gallery, London
• 1967 Grosvenor Gallery, London
• 1972 Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield
• 1973 New Art Centre, London
• 1975 New Art Centre, London, Park Square Gallery, Leeds
• 1976 New Art Centre, London, Serpentine Gallery, London, National
• Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
• 1979 New Art Centre, London
• 1982 New Art Centre, London,
• Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge,
• Warwick Art Trust, London
• 1985 Imperial College Consort Gallery, London
• 1989 Annely Juda Fine Art, London
• 1992 Annely Juda Fine Art, London, Flowers Graphics, London
• 1992-3 Art Collection, Arthur Anderson, London
• 1993 Annely Juda Fine Art, London
• 1996 Camden Arts Centre, London travelling to Oriel 31, Newtown Powys, Wales, The Customs House Gallery, South Shields
• 1997-8 Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Hovikodden, Norway
• 1998 Annely Juda Fine Art, London
• 1999 Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield
• 1999-2001 Prunella Clough Spotlight, Arts Council exhibition, University of Essex, Colchester; touring to Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd (2000); The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery; Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster; Ropewalk Contemporary Art Centre; Plymouth City Art Gallery; Ruthin Gallery (2001), Buckley Library; Denbigh Museum and Art Gallery; Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury
• 2000 Annely Juda Fine Art, London
• 2003 Annely Juda Fine Art, London
• 1947 The London Group, RBA Galleries, London Homestead Exhibition, Southwold; Young British Artists: selected by Bernard Denvir, Heal’s Mansard Gallery, London Summer Exhibition, Redfern Gallery, London
• 1948 Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Women Painters and Sculptors, RBA Galleries, London; Names to Remember, Roland Browse and Delbanco, London; Young Pointers Working in Britain, A.I.A. Gallery, London
• 1949 Paintings and Drawings by London Artists, selected by Leonard Rosoman, International House, Edinburgh; Artists of Fame and Promise, Roland Browse and Delbanco, London
• 1950 Pittsburgh International, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, USA; The London Group, New Burlington Galleries, London; A Private Collection, York City Art; Gallery Scenes de Ballet by Contemporary Artists, Wildenstein, London; Painters Progress, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London;
• Summer Exhibition, Redfern Gallery, London; Summer Exhibition, RBA Galleries, London; Artists of Fame and Promise, Leicester Galleries, London; Summer Exhibition, Gimpel Fils, London; 20th-Century British Painters, Lefevre Gallery; Cross Section of Drawings and Watercolours, Roland Browse and Delbanco, London
• 1951 Exhibition of Drawing, Redfern Gallery, London; 60 paintings for ’51, RBA Galleries, London; First anthology of British Painting 1925-50, organised by the Arts Council, London and Manchester; I Bienal at the Museo de Arte Moderne, Sao Paulo; Young Contemporaries, RBA Galleries, London; New Year Exhibition, Leicester Galleries, London; British Painting, New Burlington Galleries, London; Artists of Fame and Promise, Leicester Galleries, London
• 1952 Four Contemporaries, Heffer’s Gallery, London; Artists of Fame and Promise, Leicester Galleries, London
• 1953 Summer Exhibition, Roland Browse and Delbanco, London; New Year Exhibition, Leicester Galleries, London; London Group Show, New Burlington Galleries, London
• 1954 Figures in their Setting, Contemporary Art Society, Tate Gallery, London; British painting and Sculpture, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
• 1955 Artists of Fame and Promise, Leicester Galleries, London
• 1956 Vision and Reality, Wakefield City Art Gallery; Artists of Fame and Promise, Leicester Galleries, London; Mostra Internationale di Bianco e Nero, Lugano
• 1957 A.I.A. Gallery, exhibition with AdrianHeath, London
• 1960 The Guggenheim Foundation International Award, RWS Galleries, London
• 1963 First Image, Grosvenor Gallery, London
• 1965 Hambledon Gallery, Blandford
• 1966 The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; Museum of Modern Art, Oxford
• 1967 The Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol
• 1968 The Frederick Wright Gallery, UCLA, Berkeley, California
• 1969 Tib Lane Gallery, Manchester
• 1971 Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford
• 1972 Bruton Gallery, Somerset
• 1974 Desborough Gallery, Perth, Australia; British Painting, Hayward Gallery, London
• 1975 Eton College; Park Square Gallery, Leeds; Sunderland Arts Centre
• 1977 Monika Kinley, London; Peter Millard, Saskatoon, Canada; British Art 1952-1977, Royal Academy, London
• 1978 Liverpool Academy of Art
• 1979 Imperial College Consort Gallery, London
• 1981 Artspace Galleries, Aberdeen
• 1982-3 Ikon Gallery, Birmingham and tour
• 1984 Studio ODD, Hiroshima, Japan
• 1985 Imperial College Consort Gallery, London
• 1988 Albemarle Gallery, London
• 1989 Monoprints, Flowers East, London
• 1991 The Discerning Eye, The Mall Galleries, London and tour
• 1992 Drawing from the Imagination, Morley Gallery, London; British Abstract Painting, Adelson Galleries Inc., New York
• 1993 New Beginnings. Postwar British Art from the Collection of Ken Powell, toured Edinburgh, Sheffield and London
• 1994 British Abstraction, Flowers East, London
• 1995 British Abstract Art Part I: Paintings, Flowers East at London Fields, London
• 1995-6 Natural Forces, Reed’s Wharf Gallery, London
• 1996 British Abstract Art Part III: Works on Paper, Flowers East at London Fields, London; The Print Show 1996, Flowers Graphics, London
• 1997 Aldeburgh Festival 50th Anniversary; Print, Riverside Studios, London; The Print Show 1997, Flowers Graphics, London
• 1998 The Print Show 1998, Flowers Graphics, London
• 1999 New Prints and Publications, Flowers Graphics, London; Contemporary British Landscape, Flowers East, London; The Print Show 1999, Flowers Graphics, London; White Out, Gallery Fine, London
Frances Spalding, Prunella Clough: Regions Unmapped, Lund Humphries, Surrey, 2012, p.173, pl.102 (detail).
This post was written by joecollinson