9 January–8 March 2014
Despite being one of the foremost British artists of the post-war generation, Patrick Caulfield’s work is not well known in Germany. This is the first solo exhibition of his work in this country. It is also the inaugural show of the new location and space of Between Bridges, which was located in Bethnal Green, East London from 2006 to 2011. Between Bridges is a non-profit exhibition space run by Wolfgang Tillmans.
Patrick Caulfield (1936–2005) was an influential English painter and printmaker who emerged to prominence in the early 1960s alongside David Hockney, R.B. Kitaj and Allan Jones. His work was included in the 1964 New Generation exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, as a consequence of which Caulfield’s work is often associated with Pop Art—a label that the artist himself rejected. Caulfield saw himself very much in the tradition of European painting.
Caulfield’s work draws its haunting and touching quality from the changes in everyday life in post-war Britain. He looks both with wonder and with humour at objects which form a modern domestic reality that is in part traditional and in part newly emerging. A stereo loudspeaker and a picnic basket with French wine are presented as exotic and everyday at the same time. His unpopulated imagery always speaks poignantly of how situations and moments might feel. His is a visual proposition which lacks the distraction of an ‘expressive’ gesture, whilst not using pre-fabricated shapes from the commercial world as used in Pop Art. His shapes and forms are derived from exact observation and careful study of real life. The reductive quality of these compositions often disguises their perspectival complexity.
For a painter who worked slowly, the new colour silkscreen process offered an ideal means of disseminating and exhibiting his imagery; the democratisation of the distribution of art in post-war Europe was an interest he shared with other artists of his generation. Although he mainly worked on canvas, Caulfield produced 111 screen prints on paper in the period from 1964 to 1999. This exhibition represents almost this entire time span, from his first print Ruins (1964) to Coach Lamp and Brown Pot (both from 1994). In 1973 he produced 22 prints as illustrations of poems by Jules Laforgue, five of which are included in the exhibition.
Patrick Caulfield trained at the Chelsea School of Art, London (1956–60) and at the Royal College of Ar, London (1960–63). He had his first solo exhibition in 1965 at the Robert Fraser Gallery, London. Since then, he has been extensively shown within the United Kingdom and overseas. Major solo exhibitions include the Tate Gallery, London (1978), the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (1981), the National Gallery, London (1986) the Serpentine Gallery, London (1992–93), the Hayward Gallery (1999), the Royal Academy, London (2006) and, most recently, a retrospective at Tate Britain, London (2013). In 1987, Caulfield was nominated for the Turner Prize. In 1993, he was elected a Royal Academician.
Throughout his career, Caulfield continued to accept commissions and was much in demand as a designer of posters, book covers and ceramics. He designed stage sets and costumes for the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, a stained-glass window for The Ivy, a restaurant in London, as well as a carpet for the British Council offices in Manchester.
Patrick Caulfield died in London in 2005.
The exhibition has been made possible with the kind support of the Alan Cristea Gallery, London. Special thanks to Hanna Sorrell.