Review of ‘The Human Document: The Photography of Persuasion from 1930s America to Present Day’ at Mead Gallery, Coventry

There are few social-documentary photographs more well known, nor more heavily plundered for significance, than those of rural America from the era of the Great Depression. Black-and-white shots of sharecroppers, cotton pickers and economic refugees from the deep-south, the photographs contained in this exhibition have become part of a sort of American folklore, a complex heritage that has engaged sociologists, art historians and critical theorists in broad scope.

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Max Slevogt’s “Visions” at Leicester’s New Walk Gallery

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery in Leicester. Enjoying this very fine museum, and paying particular attention to the German Expressionist collection, a small number of ink cartoons by the German artist Max Slevogt caught my eye. The drawings were sketches for his “Visions” series of lithographs, produced during the WW1 in response to his commission as an official war artist.

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A Weimar Woman: Lotte Laserstein

The recent acquisition of Lotte Laserstein’s Evening Over Potsdam (Abend über Potsdam, 1930) by the Berlin National Gallery offers the opportunity for the public to view a painting that is by any measure a masterful depiction of modernist discord and youthful ennui. As a work of art it is prescient and hugely evocative.

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Mischievous Folk: “What the folk say” at Compton Verney

Compton Verney has raided its own collection of folk art in an attempt to open up its collection to new and multiple interpretations. Artists and curators have been invited to select items from the extensive folk art collection housed in the attic rooms of the 18th century country house and place them in an act of “intervention” amongst the fine art and artefact collections around the museum. This interspersal is designed to generate unmanaged dialogues between diverse items within the museum’s collection, as the visual language of non-academic folk art is made to rub shoulders with images and sculpture that sit comfortably inside the canon of traditional high culture.

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Two Paintings in the Leamington Spa Art Gallery

- A discussion of Summer by Winifred Nicholson and The Pulpit by Roger Fry.

The artist Winifred Nicholson once wrote of Piet Mondrian’s work that it offered ‘more of truth than nature could ever oblige one to follow.’ To her one-time husband Ben Nicholson she wrote (c.1953) ‘Yes, I’d like to get my work more abstract, but I seek the abstract of colour, which is to be found looking into the picture.’

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