This exhibition showcases prints from the Grosvenor School linocuts in the Te Papa collection. These were gifted by Rex Nan Kivell in 1951.
The selection of prints spans the years 1922 to 1936. All of the artists in the exhibition were associated with the Grosvenor School of Art and attended classes taught by Claude Flight.
W. Claude Flight (1881–1955) created his first linocut in 1919 and was immediately taken with the possibilities of the medium. Flight developed the use of multiple blocks and overlaying colours, but it was the expressive qualities of the linocut that truly captured his imagination. He also promoted the use of a thin oriental paper that did not absorb the ink; the layers of ink from each successive colour block would build up on the surface of the paper. This ensured the colours stayed true and vibrant, enhancing the dynamic qualities of the design.
This ‘pop’ modernism paralleled the developments in art and design in the 1920s and 1930s, and was influenced by Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism and Art Deco. The streamlined design and bright colours were intended to express the energy and jubilance of the Jazz Age. They encapsulated the ideas of speed and motion, taking contemporary society as their inspiration – the motor car, the speed trial, the sporting action, the whirl of the merry-go-round, or the stainless gleam of a spiralling staircase.
Flight considered that prints from linocuts were a more democratic form of art, a medium whereby the man-in-the-street could appreciate the artistic expression of the age. As these prints used modern materials and were relatively cheap to produce, they were much more accessible to the general public, both in exhibition and as a potential purchase.
Following on from the North Island tour of Rembrandt and 17thC prints from the Netherlands, and the South Island tour of Géricault to Gauguin: Printmaking in France 1820–1900, Te Papa is proud to present this selection of 30 works for tour to South Island venues.
This exhibition has now closed.