Monday, March 26, 2007

LS Lowry and a Manchester perspective

LS Lowry (1887-1976) "The Pond" 1950
Tate Britain

This is probably only going to appeal to anybody who ever had a copy of a painting by LS Lowry on the wall of their primary school when they were children - and who wondered what made him tick. Or knew a place or a person called Pendlebury. Or people who have a connection with Manchester and understand how you can leave Manchester but how it never leaves you. Or anybody who has ever wondered at the gulf in perspectives between the north and south of England.
If you ask me how you can simultaneously be an artist and a man sceptical of art, I answer that you can if you are a Mancunian.........In Manchester you are taught to make fun of whatever smacks of pretension, not least if that pretension happens to be your own. (Howard Jacobsen 25.3.07.)
What is it? It's the transcript of the LS Lowry Lecture given yesterday by Howard Jacobsen and published in the Guardian Unlimited Arts online today (or 'The Manchester Guardian' as some of us like to remember it!)
The LS Lowry exhibition at the Royal Academy just after he died aged 88 in 1976 broke all attendance records for a twentieth century artist.

I'll leave the final word to Lowry
"If people call me a Sunday painter I'm a Sunday painter who paints every day of the week!" LS Lowry
Guardian Tags:


  1. I went to a big Lowry retrospective when I lived in London years ago and I confess I could not understand the reason for his fame. Is there, to your knowledge, an artist of another nationality who is analagous to Lowry in terms of celebrity, quality of work, appeal? Maybe I could understand this phenomenon better with a little amplification ;D.

  2. I've always liked his work - he catches the grim factories and the hordes of workers of the day in his own special way. They capture an era and an area :)

    You maybe need to know the area and culture to 'get' them?

    He was unique

  3. At his best, he was able to capture the feeling of that particular place and time, but he also produced an awful lot of rather poor work.

    Are you going to give us a review of the Monet exhibition at the RA? I'm going to be in London on Thursday and I'll only have time to see one show.

  4. Laura - I think Lowry is especially appreciated by people who knew northern industrial towns when that they looked exactly like they do in Lowry's paintings. I know this particular view for example - and I can remember seeing it look more or less exactly like this.

    Children also relate especially well to the matchstick people and the amount of 'goings on' in his paintings. Hence the reference to his paintings in primary schools.

    And lastly, there is something about him being an artist from the north - from a time when everything was VERY London-centric.

    I always thought of him as being a bit like a Breughal for the industrial north. Not as fine a painter as Breughal - but the same sort of attention to everyday life within the context of 'the big picture'.

    Dave - the answer is 'Yes' and I had it virtually all drafted yesterday and then lost it when the computer had a tizzy. I couldn't face redoing it all yesterday hence why you got Lowry instead!

    If you're interested in watercolours go to one of the watercolour shows. If you like drawing and/or have a thing about seeing things you'll only ever get once chance to then go to the Monet.

  5. Hi Katherine,
    thanks for this interesting post. To me there seem to be some parallels to Rouseau.


COMMENTS HAVE BEEN CLOSED AGAIN because of the amount of spam and copying of my blog posts which is taking place. Removing them is taking too much time.
Please feel free to comment about the blog on my Facebook Page as my blog posts are always posted there but please note
1) anonymous comments are NEVER published
2) automated / spam / scam comments are never ever published on this blog
3) I ALWAYS block and report spammers to Google and/or on Facebook

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.