25 May – 29 September 2013
Free to all
An exhibition of paintings by the early modern artist William Scott, whose simple pictures of prosaic objects seemed to get at the very heart of human existence.
William Scott was a poet painter, reducing his paintings to the bare essentials. A life-long admirer of the French 18th-century painter Jean-Baptiste Chardin, whose monastic still lifes inspired his own love of form and symmetry.
Fans of Scott will tell you he has been overlooked in the canon of great British painters, falling between the abstraction of Ben Nicholson and the gaudy vibrancy of Pop art, yet this painter with the subdued palette who set out to convey the grey world he grew up in, is a persistent force in British art.
Scott’s simple depictions of domestic objects, be it a milk pan or a wine bottle, transformed everyday items into masterpieces. In the late 1940s he realised that “if the guitar was to Braque his Madonna, the frying pan could be my guitar”, and as a result set about painting his kitchen table, from the frying pan to the toasting fork.
His ‘Still life with a Candlestick’, 1949-50 is a cool, contemplative picture in muted colours that has suggestions of a sexual nature.