Displaying the experimentation and innovation characteristic of the period, the works on show at Aidan Meller Gallery are compelling examples of Modernist response to the tumult of industrialisation and urbanisation and horror of the two world wars.
Original work by Roger Hilton and the young Moore, drawings by Cocteau, Dali and pastels from the ‘Prince of Paris’, Jules Pascin, the gallery’s latest exhibition reveals the English Channel as the forcefield in which Modernism took place.
With glimpses of the bohemian neighbourhoods of Hampstead to the Surrealist quarters of Montparnasse to the St Ives school, the artworks exhibited were created from within the geographical foci of the Movement.
From members of the Salon of Gertrude Stein to the personalities involved in Cocteau’s famous collaborations, the artists shown present Modernism not as a single idea or style, but a diverse array of approaches.
United by characteristic paradox, Modernist art is defined by the desire for creation, weighed down with the awareness of inevitable destruction and decay. Starring the famous bohemian personalities of Modernism, from the ‘Frivolous Prince’ Cocteau to Pascin and Roger Hilton, as given to hedonism as to depression, the exhibition forcefully displays the emotional tenor of the period.
In the powerful physical presence of the artworks themselves, however, it’s ultimately creation that’s celebrated. From Dali’s sketch for theatrical scenery design to Cocteau’s satirical pen and ink doodles of cafe culture, the exhibition portrays the vibrant, fantastical world of the modernists’ own making.
To accompany the exhibition, the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology in Oxford are displaying ‘Degas to Picasso’, a comprehensive illustration of the development of the Modernist Movement.