In Focus: Albert Wainwright
21 Sep 2013 - 18 May 2014
The Hepworth Wakefield is home to the largest public collection of artist and designer Albert Wainwright’s work. Born in Castleford in 1898, Wainwright was a childhood friend of Henry Moore but only achieved a fraction of Moore’s acclaim during his lifetime.
A brilliant and gifted draftsman, Wainwright assimilated a wide range of influences from the decorative flourishes of art nouveau to the expressive intensity of the Viennese Secessionists. His book illustrations strongly evoke the decadent and erotic drawings of Aubrey Beardsley and his watercolours call to mind the jewel-like colours and fluid lines of the Japanese ukiyo-e (Floating world) print-makers. Wainwright can be said to incorporate elements of all of these, and yet transform them into remarkable works with an intuitive feeling for line and stylised form all of their own.
Despite only living to the relatively young age of 45, Wainwright’s overwhelming and single-minded desire to capture his daily encounters with people and places inevitably led him to create a prolific body of work comprising thousands of watercolours, sketches and drawings as well as painted ceramics, costume and set designs, illustrations for children’s books and poetic works.
A condensed selection of this output was displayed in the Yorkshire in Pictures Gallery until May 2014, along with several of his sketchbooks recording his travels around Europe prior to the outbreak of WWII.