Staring at art from the Tate's collection and thinking about it

Saturday, 1 June 2013

[title not known] - F. Derwent Wood

F. Derwent Rees, [title not known], 1916, bronze, 235 x 110 x 120 mm, Tate.

This is one of a number of studies that Rees made when he took part in a two-horse race with Alfred Drury in order to win a commission to make a statue of Sir Joshua Reynolds for the Royal Academy forecourt .  He came second.  Oh well, never mind, F.  Happily his widow donated the studies to the nation so his unfulfilled vision can still be enjoyed.  Yay! goes the nation.  There's an pleasing contrast between the rough modelling of the original clay and the permanence of the bronze casting in the plinth, while there seems to be a weird Phantom of the Opera-mask thing going on with Sir Joshua's face that all goes to make this study more palatable to the contemporary eye than your average finished heroic bronze statue.  Weird to think Picasso had already passed in and out of Cubism when this was made.  This, however, is the forgotten mainstream of art in the early decades of the twentieth century.  It served a purpose then, but who knows what to do with it now?  Is it a case of it being of no interest, or do we simply not know how to be interested in it?  Answers on a postcard, please...

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