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Kenneth Rowntree (1915 - 1997)

Falling Rain with Raised Flag

SKU: 4003
Acrylic on board

Size:
Height – 32.5cm
Width – 25cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
The Artist’s Family
Presentation:
framed
Exhibitied:
Fry Art Gallery, Kenneth Rowntree, A Centenary Exhibition, 2015, no 34
literature:
Kenneth Rowntree, A Centenary Exhibition, Moore-Gwyn Fine Art and Liss Llewellyn Fine Art, 2015, Cat. 66, p.113
As Professor of Fine Art in Newcastle (1959 -1980) Rowntree was at the epicentre of an important northern school of modernism that revolved around his friends Victor Pasmore (1908 -1988) and Richard Hamilton (1922- 2011). Even in retirement, his work, in its return to figuration from abstraction, displays his consistent qualities of humour and inventiveness. Rowntree’s oeuvre is both influenced by and anticipates a wide variety of artistic styles, from Ravilious to David Hockney, from the Euston Road School to the Dadaism of Kurt Schwitters.

‘One of the most appealing British artists of the mid-twentieth century, Kenneth Rowntree knew how to tease, please and baffle, how to communicate joy without complacency, how to charm without any hint of preciousness. His pictures of ordinary English streets and fields, back-rooms of pubs, churches in Mexico and weathervanes in Nantucket are deeply satisfying works of art which point out new things in the world. He had an unerring feel for strange yet satisfying compositions in which everything is idiosyncratically alive and at the same time settled, iconic, and complete.’ (Alexandra Harris, A Strange Simplicity: Kenneth Rowntree, A Centenary Exhibition, Liss Llewellyn, 2015.

In 1959, Rowntree became Professor of Fine Art at Durham University and it was there that he came into contact with Victor Pasmore, precipitating a further 90¬∞ turn in his work. During the 1960s and 1970s, he created a series of bright, hard-edged, geometric, non-figurative works, often incorporating lettering, either painted or collaged. He also delighted in recycling and reworking objets trouvés and bits of old packing cases, complete with stencilled names and addresses.
Despite this, he never totally relinquished his earlier Romantic vision, switching back, albeit in a more simplified vein, when the mood took him, as in such 1980s works as Findochty and Falling Rain with Raised Flag. The Naming of Parts, a beguilingly playful late landscape painted close to his Northumberland home at Acomb, is variously inscribed Victoria Plum’, Holly’, Hawthorn’ and so on, as if it was an illustration to a young person’s manual for the identification of trees. Peyton Skipwith, Stylistic Switchbacks, Country Life, August 2015.
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THE ARTIST

Kenneth Rowntree
Kenneth
Rowntree
1915 - 1997

Painter, illustrator, artist in collage and murals, draughtsman and teacher, born in Scarborough, Yorkshire. He studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford, under Albert Rutherston, 1934’35, and at the Slade under Randolph Schwabe. During World War II he participated in the Pilgrim Trust Recording Britain project and was an Official War Artist. He had his first one-man exhibition at Leicester Galleries in 1946; other one-man shows followed at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Zwemmer Gallery, New Art Centre, and the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with a retrospective at Hatton Gallery there in 1980. In 1949 he became a tutor at RCA, a post he held until 1958. In 1959 he became Professor of Fine Arts, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, succeeding Lawrence Gowing; he held the position until 1980. In 1992 a touring retrospective was organinsed, starting in Newtown. Group shows included NEAC, AIA and RSW. He became a member of the Society of Mural Painters in 1943, taught mural painting at the Royal College of Art for 10 years from 1948, and received a Ford Foundation Grant to visit America in 1959. In 1948 he illustrated A Prospect of Wales. Murals completed include those for Barclay School, Stevenage, 1946, RMS Orsova and Iberia, 1954, and the British Pavilion at Brussels International Exhibition in 1958. In 1951 he painted murals for the Lion and Unicorn Pavilion at the Festival of Britain. Tate, Victoria & Albert Museum and WAC are among many public owners of his work. Rowntree’s pictures reflect the genial and witty nature of the artist, usually being landscapes and townscapes in which the elements have a toy-like neatness and familiar notations are employed. In the post-war years he also painted a considerable number of abstract (and semi-abstract) works. His work is sometimes signed with just his initials. He lived at Corbridge, Northumberland.

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