No great visual revelations here - you know pretty much what you are going to get, wall after wall of it (none of his strange erotic stuff included in this show). But there are several really illuminating things to be learned that you won't find in wiki.
- He can properly be placed squarely in the French tradition of Utrillo and Pissarro, having been formally trained at the Manchester School of Art by the less well-known impressionist Valette. Indeed, he (Lowry) exhibited in Paris more than in England in his early years. (To judge from the single Valette in the show - a grand urban nocturne - the master was, *ahem* perhaps better than the student ... just a matter of taste, obviously)
- He was a fire-watcher on a high factory roof during WW2, which readily explains the perspectives of many of his post-war paintings.
- He was capable of taking the piss in no uncertain terms. Two separate paintings are exhibited side-by-side without comment, one entitled 'People arriving at work' and the other 'People going home from work'. They are essentially identical (not mirror-images), down to the colour of individuals' coats
- He had a short 'welsh' period when he painted some more-studious-than-usual / less generic, and rather magnificent Welsh landscapes
- Gates and gateways clearly had significance for him (might be a fruitful opening for psychological speculation)
This post first appeared on the Capitalists@Work blog
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