Patrick Caulfield (1936–2005) was an English painter and printmaker. He painted mostly everyday interiors and still life objects using geometric lines and/or thick black outlines and flat colour. Some are paintings or screenprints focus on evocative light and shape, experimenting with the effects of different combinations of, often vibrant, colours. Other works mix photorealism and flat images giving a haunting sense of fleeting moments, and a yearning for escape.
Caulfield’s extremely subtle art depends greatly on visual metaphor, on implication and absence, on visual clues that hint at things that are not overtly expressed, and which must be completed in the mind of the spectator…Giving solid visual form to intangible and ephemeral sensory experiences, and to equally slippery emotions’
Livingstone 2005 p9
I was first introduced to his work in 2013 through the simultaneous exhibitions of Patrick Caulfield and Gary Hume at Tate Britain, using his work as inspiration for multiplate linocuts for OCA Printmaking 1. His use of flat colour and line – playing with both colour effects and perspective as well as combinations of media to produce emotional effects are an area I explore in some of my illustrations. Including:
Selection of paintings to music.
Some paintings are very pared down – reaction against abstract expressionism. Often different modes of expression: realism and linear abstraction. Understands use of light. Turns the everyday into the intriguing. Rethinks structure of interiors within painting.
Discussion of ‘After Lunch’ and the poignancy of the contrast between the fantasy painting and the linear plain waiter and the detail of the chink of light with the chain going down to the kitchen. ‘Endless Loss’.
From the Tate exhibition. Contrasts Gary Hume and Patrick Caulfield. They both use flat colour and unreal perspective. Patrick Caulfield is associated with Pop Art. Sense of ‘fragility of the moment’ and ‘fleeting moment’ and escapism.
Overview of life and art
Livingstone, M. (2005). Patrick Caulfield, London, Lund Humphries.
Patrick Caulfield was born in west London.
1950s: he began his studies in 1956 at Chelsea School of Art, London
1960s: he continued at the Royal College of Art (1960–63), one year below the students identified as originators of Pop art and fellow students included David Hockney. Through his participation in the defining The New Generation exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1964, he became associated with Pop Art. However he resisted this label throughout his career, instead preferring to see himself as a ‘formal artist’ and an inheritor of painting traditions from Modern Masters such as Georges Braque, Juan Gris and Fernand Léger who influenced his composition and choice of subject matter.
In the early 1960s Caulfield’s painting was characterised by flat images of objects paired with angular black outlines or isolated against unmodulated areas of colour. He deliberately chose subjects that seemed hackneyed or ambiguous in time. See for example: Portrait of Juan Gris 1963 (Pallant House Gallery, Chichester); Still Life with Dagger 1963 (Tate); Pottery 1969 (Tate); Bend in the Road 1967 (Collection of the Museé national d’historie et d’art, Luxembourg)
1970s : he began to create highly complex paintings that play with definitions of reality and artifice, combining different artistic styles including trompe l’oeil. His subject matter shifted to topics that directly engaged with the contemporary social landscape and the representation of modern life. See for example: After Lunch 1975 (Tate) features a photorealist image of the Château de Chillon hanging in a restaurant interior that is depicted in simple black outlines against a flat, two-toned background. Tandoori Restaurant 1971 (WAVE Wolverhampton Art Gallery)
1980s: Caulfield began to insert Photorealistic elements into his characteristic pared down paintings, creating a vivid sense of place within abstract elements. See for example: Interior with a Picture 1985–6 (Tate), Bishops 2004 (Private collection, London), Braque Curtain 2005 (Tate)
Major exhibitions during his lifetime included retrospectives at Walker Art Gallery Liverpool and Tate (both 1981), Serpentine (1992–3) and Hayward Gallery (1999). In 1993 he was elected a Royal Academician. In 2013 there were simultaneous exhibitions of Caulfield and Gary Hume at Tate Britain. (where I was first introduced to his work)