Stanley Spencer: Of Angels And Dirt
25 Jun - 05 Oct 2016
‘In these troubled times, this is a show to cheer you up.’
This exhibition served as the first major survey in 15 years of the work of one of Britain’s best loved painters, Stanley Spencer. Presented during the 125th anniversary of Spencer’s birth, this exhibition brought together over 70 works spanning his entire career, including rarely-seen self-portraits and extracts from his diaries and writings offering a unique insight into his life and work.
The exhibition explored the seemingly conflicting themes that Spencer fused together in his richly detailed paintings, of religion and sexuality, work and leisure, nature and industry, highlighting Spencer’s distinctive view of everyday life.
As Spencer himself put it, ‘I am on the side of angels and dirt’.
The arrangement of the paintings allowed visitors to view bodies of work that he created throughout his life as a whole, such as his landscape paintings, including views of his beloved hometown of Cookham, and his series of portraits of people close to him, including a number of depictions of his second wife, Patricia Preece. The exhibition also examined the lifelong influence that early Italian Renaissance paintings by such artists as Botticelli, Fra Angelico and Giotto had on Spencer’s work, with a significant loan from the National Gallery, London.
‘In his anniversary year, it’s time to see beyond the paintings of wisteria blossom to the angels and the dirt…’
The Spectator on Stanley Spencer: Of Angles and Dirt.