ABOUT FIFTIES ART

ABOUT FIFTIES ART

We are one of the country’s leading specialists in affordable mid-century art, and you’ll find here a carefully selected range of original and authentic pictures and vintage prints.

We also specialise in the work of John Piper, one of the most creative, imaginative and versatile artists of the twentieth century.

It all began when I bought a painting from 1959 with the unpromising title ‘Railway Sidings, Bradford’. This inspired an exploration of mid-century art and design, and a growing appreciation of its distinctive quality. Take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.

The collection which has resulted includes paintings and prints, ceramics, fabrics, books and home accessories, all of which are for sale – and most of them are unique.

Interest in John Piper arose from his bold lithographs from the 1950s, and now extends to a wide selection of original artworks, prints and fabrics.

New items are added regularly, and those from the past month can be found under ‘New Stock’  on ‘The Collection’ page.

We’re always interested in making new purchases – especially of John Piper’s work – so please get in touch if you’ve anything to offer.

Why the fifties?

The 1950s represented a period of adjustment from war to peace, through austerity to normality. British artists played an important role in recording war – but how would they respond to peace? British art from the fifties tends to be associated with the innovation of abstraction through for example, the works of Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland. But this is only part of the story. Closer examination of art and design from the period identifies continuity and change across a broader range of work:

  • Firstly, through a growing interest in printmaking – with the availability of good quality paper and innovations in lithography, not least bigger machines, making original prints more widely available – such as those by Charles Bartlett, Henry Holzer, John Piper and Robert Tavener.
  • Secondly, a renewed emphasis on realism in art, especially focusing on more ‘taken for granted’ subjects such as interior scenes, urban and industrial subjects and less picturesque views of the rural. You can use the filters on ‘The Collection’ page to explore this more realist art.
  • Thirdly, abstraction continues to work its way into the representational, blurring the boundaries between the two. Give abstract art a chance – and take a look at what’s available using the Abstract filter.

This was also a period in which the expansion of art education created more opportunities for women to become artists, though their recognition could be short-lived. It’s not unusual to find that women artists who trained in the 1950s ‘disappeared’ and have no recognition in our digital world. We are always keen to receive information concerning artists for whom we have no biographical information.

Our collection celebrates the variety, versatility and distinctiveness of mid-century art and design, offering an attractive range of original items at accessible prices. Pictures and prints form the core of the collection which also includes ceramics, fabrics, books and home accessories. Tracing the origins and evolution of fifties art and design, our choice extends back to the thirties and forward to the seventies. The works of John Piper extend from the 1930s to the end of his working life.

Dr Richard Turkington, FRSA, Director

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