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

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Provence - Charles M. Gere

Charles M. Gere, Provence, 1926, ink, crayon and watercolour on paper, 324 x 457 mm, Tate.

Charles M. Gere does a watercolour of his holiday in Provence, as about a billion and one other British artists had done for over a century and a half before him.  What distinguishes him from his predecessors?  At first glance, not much.  He hasn't shattered the image and rearranged it in a Cubist stylee, or turned the colour knob up like an over-excited Expressionist.  But, if you look closely, you can just about tell this is from the twentieth Century, and not the nineteenth.  There's a flattening of the areas of colour that gives a hint that Gere may have once seen a Gauguin, and results in the impression that the ground is as liquid as the river running through it.  Much British art of the time is in this vein.  A nod to the undeniable fact that something's changed, but not wanting to be foolish and throw all the old stuff away in a rash moment.  Many sneer at this, but it's a reasonable enough attitude.  Most people are not revolutionaries, but are also not totally conservative.  This type of work captures that large slice of human experience nicely.

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