Twentieth Century Artists in the Graves Gallery

Christopher Nevinson

Christopher Nevinson was a painter of landscapes, urban and industrial subjects, war scenes and figurative studies. Nevinsonís work was initially influenced by Impressionism and Post Impressionism.

It was however, the Futurist exhibition of March 1912, held at the Sackville Gallery, which proved decisive for his development. At the exhibition he met the Futurist painter Gino Severini and returned with him to study in Paris. Here Nevinson was introduced to other Futurist artists including Umberto Boccioni and Ardengo Soffici. He was inspired by the Futuristsí interest in modern technology and their depiction of motion.

During this time he began to pursue similar themes in his own work. Nevinson announced his affiliation with the movement by exhibiting a painting called Rising City in the Friday Club exhibition of January 1913. This was followed by a series of fragmented, Futurist inspired urban works giving him the reputation of being Englandís only Futurist painter.

In 1917 Nevinson was commissioned as an Official War Artist. His work drew the public's attention to the increasingly mechanised nature of modern warfare, something that was far removed from the romantic artistry that had accompanied the early stages of the war. One critic wrote of his most famous work, Machine Gun: "the hard lines of the machinery dictate those of the robotised soldiers who become as one with the killing machine."

His 1918 work, Paths of Glory depicted the bodies of two dead British soldiers and was considered so harrowing it was censored by the War Office. Nevinsonís war paintings confirm that he saw the war as a tragic event. Bleak, outspoken and angry, they are among the masterpieces of his career.

After the war Nevinson abandoned Futurism, preferring to paint more conventional landscapes and cityscapes. His work remained dynamic and powerful. A series of paintings of New York were particularly striking, revealing the artistís feelings about the dehumanising effect of urban life. In later years Nevinsonís work became less radical. He concentrated more on pastoral scenes and flower pieces where a gentler mood prevailed.

Listen to students' responses to Nevinson's paintings - see Audio links below.

Map link: Ypres in Belgium, the location in Nevinson's painting»

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