Page 4, 21st May 1948

21st May 1948
Page 4
Page 4, 21st May 1948 — 1 N A FEW WORDS

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Locations: London


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That's Art That Is " no on. silly, that's Art that is.

' said the little London urchin in front of McWilliam's Kneeling. Figure—which is a pair of arms and a pair of legs disposed rhythmically and interestingly without a body. I don't know what heresy the boy was refuting but there was no mistaking the capital " A." It was not my introduction to the Open-Air Exhibition of Sculpture in Battersea Park, I was already half-way round. but it was someone's, and it will serve to epitomise the attitude in which thousands of London's poorer citizens are paying a small fee to see what the expefts have decided is a fair presentation of the modern plastic arts set in one of London's people's parks.

Congratulations THE London County Council, whose praises are rarely sung in this newspapers is indeed to be most heartily congratulated for this ' initiative. Few of those to whom I spoke when I visited the exhibition did not agree that it was " a jolly good idea" thus to bring art to the people, and also that there was much that they were most pleased to have seen. This, I think, is because the Arts Council and the special committee, which includes John Rothenstein, have picked something for everybody's taste. For those who like, even sculptured, bodies to be whole and natural there are Maillol's Three, most graceful, Graces, Charles Wheeler's Spring, who seems about to leave the pedestal to run as delicately as she is there poised, through the spring glade of the natural bowl in which the exhi bition is '' Doused."' Then for those for whom art must mean something different to nature captured in moments of inspiration, there is the quite unintelligible Bas Relief by Matisse and the horrible Ondines by Laurens.

Worth Something I STOOD in front of the latter leaden monstrosity wondering if an artist who believed in God could ever have carved such a thing and becoming more and more convinced in my Philistinism when behind me in an accent that owed nothing to the Slade School I heard a most emphatic and earnest appraisal of the work " That's worth a good bit, you know." For a moment I thought that an inhabitant of Battersea was thinking of buying this work so generously "Lent by the Artist," but the good British workman or splendid spiv—I didn't look round to see, was thinking of the medium. '• That's solid lead, you know," he went on.

The Foreigners BATTERSEA was invaded for the Sunday afternoon by Chelsea and Hampstead, but the visitors respected the proprieties of the foreign country in which they found themselves. One unfortunate enthusiast who forgot to, and was carried away by the flowing symmetry of Wheeler's Aphrodite outlined this In the air to his lady companions with large sensitive hands that might well have belongeA themselves to a sculptor. He was promptly mimicked by four small boys who each took tip his stance and tilt of head as they repeated "it's the flow of the form." They followed him to Moore's Standing Figures, but he had learnt his lesson, he was providing no more gestures for mimicry, nor loud, learned comment which would only be an embarrassment to the simple folk about him. This last much publicised piece, incidentally, is obviously the work of a master sculptor, but were I as rich as Creosus I should not want to on it.

Bronze Eminence

PERSONALLY I most enjoyed in

their new setting Mestrovie's Torso, Eric Gill's Mankind. and Rodin's magnificent and stirring St. John the Baptist. All these are lent by the Tate Gallery. St. John crowns a little eminence at one end of the enclosure in which the exhibition is set out. Everybody scrambles up the little hillock to get a nearer view of him, and nearly all look back to where between the trees he strides proclaiming in bronze, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths."

Out of It Tordy piece that completely only all appeal in an open-air sylvan setting was Bedford's Tree (painted ash) it compared so unfavourably with God's. In the foyer of some modern monster in ferro-concrett, Its fat spongy green

leaves and its gross marrow-like yellow fruit might have some luxurious symbolic significance—even beauty. In Battersea Park it was the only exhibit constantly guarded. For the rest, and for once appropriately " Good Show ! "

The German Film I WENT to the first of the German films to be seen in London since the war for two reasons: first I had a great respect for the German cinema before the war, and secondly I was curious to see whether the atmosphere of the devasted German cities was realised. On both counts I found The Murderers Are Amongst Us well worth seeing. It does give a very powerful, and not at all exaggerated, impression of the hopelessness and the soul-destroying extent of the ruin. In camera-work and in the quality it is now fashionable to call cinema it lives up to a great tradition. But thought the story a little naïve. Incidentally none of the Germans to whom I spoke when over there recently seemed to be very thrilled by the film, some had not heard of it at all and they were all newspapermen or publicists.


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