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Title By What Means Can We Know?
Collection fineart.ac.uk
Artist Victor Pasmore, CH, CBE, RA
Nationality British
Description Lawrence Alloway's slim 1954 volume Nine Abstract Artists encapsulates the discourse around British constructivism in the early 1950's. In his statement for this volume, Pasmore had talked about the necessity to move into 'actual dimensions' and by this time, for his orthogonal reliefs, he was having components machine-cut and toying with the notion of editions of multiples.
However, by the late 1950's, Pasmore was no longer arguing for a logical move from relief into three dimensions, and was increasingly concerned that his linear and planar forms should result in an image 'which surprises us by its familiarity and touches us as if awakening forgotten memories buried long ago.'
Certain lines from his own poetry silk screened beside the images of Correspondences reveal how far Pasmore has moved from the early 1950's rhetoric of objectivity and rationality. He asks 'by what geometry must we construct the physical world' in the modern age, and the trajectories of his springing lines are not contained by the orthogonal structures. Suggesting that the artwork has a subjective and a 'facing' quality, he wonders: 'Am I the object which I see? Am I the eyes that look at me?' And echoing Goya's Capriccio 43, Pasmore muses that' when ... reason dreams, then the heart is free.'
Configurations seemed increasingly to grow, spread, metamorphose, or magically fixate our attention. Printmaking suited the new fluidity of Pasmore's work. The 1980 Pasmore catalogue raisonnée lists one print for the period to 1964 and 86 prints or suites for 1965-79 (29 items for 1974 alone), revealing how important print-making had become for Pasmore as a medium. As Failoni and Zamboni explain:
Working with a special solvent directly on the varnished copper plate, he proceeds by controlling the flow of the solvent until an image is formed. A proof is printed; the original image is then developed and transformed into a new subjective image; the final print is engraved by the aquatint process.
The employment of solvent flow is clearest in The tear that falls..., but presumably underpins the 'finding' of the planar 'organic' forms, though there may well be starting points in his paintings. When the curtain falls... resembles a number of near symmetrical organic images, while By what geometry... resembles a variety of late 1960's linear works (e.g. Bowness/Lambertini 410,423, 437). Am I the object... and Deep inside l looked are based on two 1971 works both entitled Linear Image (B/L 476 and 479) and the aquatint evokes the surface of the original ground of board. On the other hand, Black Development (B/L 603) is clearly related to Quiet is the island... but dates to the year following the publication of the print.
Concerning other sets of prints, it has been noted that the poems were written after the images were made. The reliance on previous pictorial forms underlines this. The title of this set of prints refers to the notion of 'correspondence', a Baudelairian idea which became supremely influential in the late 19th century and which involved the ability of the artistic sign to stimulate diff?rent sorts of sensory and intuitive experience, connecting initially invisible aspects of an essentially spiritual universe. This underlines the importance of late 19th century Symbolist aesthetics, which introduced notions of the 'suggestive image' into modern art.
Cultural Context English
Location Current Site Arts & Humanities Research Council, Whitefriars, Lewins Mead, Bristol, BS1 2AE.
Measurements Dimensions 376 x 385 mm
Material ink on paper
Biography 1908, 3 December: Born Chelsham, Surrey
He developed an interest in painting as a schoolboy at Harrow, but the early death of his father prevented him from carrying on his studies at this stage. From 1927 to 1937 he worked as a clerk at the Head Office of the London County Council, painting in his spare time and paying frequent visits to the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery; he became a member of the London Artists' Association in 1932 and of the London Group in 1934. His early paintings, such as The Window (1933; London, Dept Environment), were reminiscent of Matisse and the Fauvists in their free handling and their subject-matter of still-life and views through open windows, though he also took part in the Objective Abstractions exhibition (1934; London, Zwemmer Gal.), at which Geoffrey Tibble (1909-52), Rodrigo Moynihan, Graham Bell and others displayed fully abstract work. Pasmore himself made a number of abstract pictures shortly after this exhibition but later decided to destroy them.
1932: Elected to the London Artist Association
1937: Set up school of painting in the Euston Road with Claude Rogers and William Coldstream
1938: Left Government Service and appointed full-time teacher of painting at the Euston Road School.
1943: Visiting teacher at the Camberwell School of art where he introduced the ideas of the Euston Road School.
1949: Left Camberwell and began teaching at the Central School of Art
1954: Left Central School of Art to take up appointment as Director of Painting in the Department of Fine Art, University of Newcastle
1954: Consulting Director to Urban Design for the South West Area, Peterlee New Town, left in 1977
1961: Left University of Newcastle to join the Marlborough Gallery, London
1998, 23 January: Died in Gudja, Malta
Biographic Notes Details from: The Grove Dictionary of Art
Education 1927-30: Attended eveing classes at the Central School of Art
1923-27: Studied at Harrow
Other Activities 1950: Painted large spiral ceramic mural for the Festival of Britain
Institution Council for National Academic Awards
Rights Owner Victor Pasmore
Rights Status UK HE use only
Technique intaglio
Work Type Intaglio, with silk-screened text additions



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