Founded by Scottish wood engraver Iain Macnab in 1925, Grosvenor School of Art in London is remembered for its brief but big part in reviving public interest in printmaking in Britain during the interwar period.
Headed up by teacher and artist Claude Flight, the group of artists that came out of the school became known for creating vibrant prints of everyday scenes, which championed the idea that linocuts should be ‘an art of the people for their homes’.
A new show at Dulwich Picture Gallery in south east London is marking 90 years since the first exhibition of British linocuts went on display at the Redfern Gallery in London.
The show features 120 prints, drawings and posters that came out of the movement, including works by some of Flight’s leading students such as Cyril Power, Sybil Andrews, Lill Tschudi, William Greengrass and Leonard Beaumont.
Arranged thematically, the show demonstrates the influence of avant-garde movements such as Futurism on the artists, and their ability to translate everyday scenes into striking modernist compositions.
One room is dedicated to sporting culture, with prints depicting the athletic prowess and mass spectatorship of events such as Wimbledon, and another to work and play, including Power’s portrayal of the thrills of the funfair in The Merry-Go-Round.
One of the larger sections in the show focuses on transport, and includes original tube posters by Power and Andrews (who worked under the name Andrew-Power) for Frank Pick, Managing Director of London Underground in the 20s and 30s.
Also on display are some of the original tools and studies showing how the school helped to revolutionise the linocut process, as well as rarely seen sketchbooks from the Power estate and family photographs of the artists.
Guest Curator Gordon Samuel, who specialises in Modern British painting, says: “I have been exhibiting the Grosvenor School linocuts for the past 35 years at exhibitions and art fairs at home and abroad, and they never fail to attract an appreciative audience.
“What will strike visitors are the vivid colours and the modernity of the work – [it’s] amazing to think that these were made over 90 years ago and remain just as compelling today as back in the 30s.”
Cutting Edge: Modernist British Printmaking runs from 19 June – 8 September at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Entry costs £16.50, plus concessions; dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk