Barbara Jones (1912 - 1978)

Study for Man at Work - a century of technical and social progress, 1961

£2,800.00

SKU: 6660

Inscribed

Pencil 


Size:
Height – 43.2cm
Width – 33cm

1 in stock

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
with the artist until 1978; thereafter in her studio with her assistant Tony Raymond.
Presentation:
framed

Provenance: with the artist until 1978; thereafter in her studio with her assistant Tony Raymond.

Exhibited: International Labour Exhibition, Central Office of Information, Turin, Italy, 1961

Literature: Ruth Artmonsky, Barbara Jones, Artmonsky Arts, 2008, pp.89-95; British Murals and Decorative Painting 1920-1960, Sansom & Co,  2013, pp.334-335


The two most impressive murals Barbara Jones produced were of gigantic heads, the first commissioned by the Central Office of Information for an International Labour Office exhibition in Turin celebrating the centenary of the Italian State (1961), the other for Philips Research Laboratory in Eindhoven (1966). These were not only striking because of their size but because of the way Jones chose to interpret her briefs. The Philips’ mural, entitled Man and his Senses, is a relatively straightforward strong image, with enlargened fingertips, mouth, nose, eyes and ears filled with patterned neurons and synapses, only weakened by the somewhat sentimental placing of a rose outside the head.
The Turin head is altogether more problematic carrying numerous ghostly figures not easily discerned at a distance. The theme was Man at Work ‚Äì a century of technical and social progress’ with which Barbara seems to have been at her most capricious. A very close inspection shows that at least some of the figures have at least a tenuous connection to the title ‚Äì a board meeting, some agricultural scenes, coal miners with lamps and canaries, and, in the right ear of the head, a dentist with his patient! However, these few scenes are completely overwhelmed by a plethora of Jones’s preferred subjects ‚Äì a coffin, two couples embracing, a skeleton, a tiger atop a crocodile, and, her very favourite ‚Äì an owl.
It is not surprising then that Barbara declared the Turin head the work of which she was most proud, and she went to considerable lengths and expense to buy it back and to return it to her studio, where it remains, her only extant mural of any note. The work epitomizes her approach to mural commissions, which can only be described as that of a maverick. She was sufficiently competent, charming and astute to attract commissions, and to know when, and how far, to compromise with briefs, but would seize any possibility to slip in her own quirky obsessions.’
(Ruth Artmonsky, British Murals & Decorative Painting
1920-1960, Sansom & Co, 2013, p. 332)

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THE ARTIST

Jones, Barbara

1912 – 1978

Barbara Jones first attended art school in Croydon (1931’33) before
winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Art (1933’36), where
she met painter Cliff Barry whom she married in 1941.

A prolific and varied artist, during WWII she worked with
the Pilgrim Trust on the Recording Britain series, making one of
the largest contributions of the 63 artists taking part. She wrote
and illustrated books on design history, many of which are today
considered seminal, including The Unsophisticated Arts, 1951 and
Design for Death, 1967.

In 1951, she organised the Black Eyes and Lemonade: Curating
Popular Art
exhibition held at the Whitechapel Gallery for the Festival
of Britain. A fellow of the Society of Industrial Artists from the same
year, she was made vice president in 1969. She was also a fellow of
the Royal Anthropological Institute and a member of the Society of
Authors. A retrospective exhibition of the contents of her studio was
held at Katharine House Gallery, Marlborough, in 1999.

With thanks to artbiogs.co.uk

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