Modernism and St Ives: Constructed Form

6 Oct 2007 – 13 Jan 2008

Event times

Tuesday ' Sunday 10.00-16.20, last admission 16.00

Closed 24, 25, 26 December

Cost of entry


Tate St Ives

St Ives, United Kingdom


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Following the Second World War, two distinct groups of abstract artists emerged in Britain. The first centred around Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth who had remained in St Ives following their relocation from Hampstead in 1939. The second, including Adrian Heath, were associated with Victor Pasmore and Kenneth and Mary Martin, who had met through teaching at Camberwell and the Central Schools of Art in London.

Both circles were influenced by trends in European avant-garde practice which had thrived in the 1930's. This display considers the relationships between the corresponding post-war London and Cornish groups, defined within the British artistic climate which had rejected abstraction for a more figurative practice.

One essential link was Constructivism. Russian Constructivist sculptor Naum Gabo had taken refuge in St Ives during the war. His works, made from non-art materials, were non-representational, constructed forms in space. He inspired artists in the locale in their pursuit of both abstract painting and sculpture. Many artists in St Ives, including Hepworth and Nicholson - previously the key British exponents of geometric abstract art - articulated this greater practice in relation to nature. This landscape tradition was resurrected in the wider art world, following the atrocities of war.


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