Nash, Nevinson, Spencer, Gertler, Carrington, Bomberg: A Crisis of Brilliance in Dulwich

By Culture24 Reporter | 12 June 2013

Exhibition preview: Nash, Nevinson, Spencer, Gertler, Carrington, Bomberg: A Crisis of Brilliance, 1908-1922, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, until September 22 2013

An image of an oil painting of three people in profile
John Currie, Some Later Primitives with Madame Tisceron (1912). Tempera on canvas© Courtesy The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent
As early 20th century students at London’s famous Slade School of Art, Paul Nash, CRW Nevinson, Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, Dora Carrington and David Bomberg also shared a somewhat unhappy destiny: in 1914, the declaration of the Great War turned the creative world of these six artists upside down, and the suicides, murders and conflict teeming through 70 works in Dulwich represent some of that tumult.

Their contemporaries included the likes of John Currie, Ben Nicholson and Edward Wadsworth, so it’s little surprise that their teaching of drawing, reflecting several years later, described the group as the school’s “second and last crisis of brilliance”, following on from the first “crisis”, between 1893 and 1901, when gifted artists of the ilk of Harold Gilman and Percy Wyndham Lewis were mastering their skills.

Void, one of Nash’s first oil paintings, comes from the National Gallery of Canada, and The Sea Wall, from 1919, is one of his first works painted in post-war Dymchurch.

Two vast paintings by David Bomberg, meanwhile, reveal elements of futurism, and Spencer’s Unveiling Cookham War Memorial, from 1922, goes on show for the first time in almost 25 years.

Drawings, prints, letters, photographs and ephemera illustrate the intertwined relationships and influences of the artists. The curator, David Boyd Haycock, may have been spurred into action by the response to his book A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War, which caused calls for an accompanying exhibition when it was released to acclaim in 2009.

  • Open 10am-5pm (11am-5pm Sunday, closed Monday). Admission £5-£11 (free for children). Follow the gallery on Twitter @DulwichGallery.

More pictures:

An image of an abstract painting divided into squares and triangles of different colours
David Bomberg, In the Hold (circa 1913-14). Oil on canvas© Tate London 2011
Stanley Spencer, Unveiling a War Memorial at Cookham (1921)
An oil painting of three large figures carrying fruit on a mountain top
Mark Gertler, The Fruit Sorters (1914). Oil on canvas. New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester© Leicester Arts Museums
An image of an abstract oil painting of a coastal scene under seige during war
Paul Nash, The Void (1921)© Tate London 2012
An image of an oil painting of an early 20th century man lying down reading a book
Dora Carrington, Lytton Strachey (1916). Oil on panel. Bequeathed by Frances Catherine Partridge (née Marshall), 2004© National Portrait Gallery
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