Prunella Clough

18 January - 5 April 2008

Prunella Clough (1919-99) is regarded as one of the most interesting and significant British painters of the post-war period, who devoted her career to finding beauty in unconsidered aspects of the urban and industrial landscape. She scrutinised the surfaces and textures of the contemporary environment, transforming subjects such as lorries and factory yards, the detritus of street and gutter, and the bright colours of plastics into images of compelling mystery and beauty.

This exhibition focuses on the relationship between the artist’s early and later works and more than 30 important works from across Clough’s career will be shown, offering new insights into her working processes. A carefully selected group of her social realist paintings from the 1940s and 1950s will be contrasted with a group of abstracted canvasses from the 1990s. Clough’s early works have not been widely seen in recent years and provide a fascinating context for the development of her better-known later work. The juxtaposition of late and early demonstrates that Clough’s preoccupation with abstract formal qualities – composition, colour, texture – also underpinned her earlier, figurative work.

Highlights include early works such as Fishermen in a Boat 1949 (Aberdeen City Art Gallery) and Lowestoft Harbour 1951 (Arts Council Collection, Hayward Gallery, London), painted for the Festival of Britain. Lorry with Ladder 1953 (Government Art Collection) and Man Entering Boiler House 1956 (Norwich Castle Museum) are among a selection of works from her 1950s paintings of lorry drivers, factory machinists and loading yards, while Spin Off 1992 (Private Collection) and Disused Land 1999 (on loan to Pallant House, Chichester) are examples of her late abstracted work.

There will also be an archive display of Clough’s photographs that gives an insight into her complex and layered working process and her very particular vision of the modern world. By focusing on two key phases of her development this exhibition will offer an introduction to, and scholarly re-assessment of this important British artist.

The exhibition has been organised by Tate Britain, in association with Norwich Castle Museum and Abbot Hall Art Gallery, and is curated by Ben Tufnell, formerly Curator at Tate Britain and now Curator at Haunch of Venison, London. The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue from Tate Publishing.

Supported by - Arts Council England

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