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Remote and picturesque, St Ives became an unlikely hotbed for avant-garde art in the mid-20th century.

Painters and sculptors made St Ives their home, either permanently or as temporary exiles, and brought with them their preoccupation with international modernity.

Taking as its inspiration the Barber’s recently acquired Constructivist sculpture Linear Construction in Space No 1 (1943-44) by the Russian artist, Naum Gabo, this exhibition presents art produced in and around St Ives from the 1930s to the 1960s and draws on the rich resources of the Jerwood Collection (a privately-owned collection of 20th and 21st-century art for public display).

Featuring works by such luminaries as Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon and Sandra Blow, and many more, Cornwall as Crucible considers the relationships and networks between artists who lived and worked in Cornwall, examining their development of a visual language which explored the boundary between representation and abstraction, and demonstrating the impact of the distinctive Cornish landscape upon this artistic endeavour.


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