Ravilious Season - Lunchtime Talk: "It’s pretty but is it art?” Reflections on Ravilious and Modernism

Monday 30 October 2017 1:00pm - 1:45pm
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Eric Ravilious, Boy Birds-Nesting, 1926. Courtesy Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne

According to Rudyard Kipling’s 1890 poem, ‘The Conundrum of the Workshops’, it is the Devil down the ages who asks ‘It’s pretty, but is it art?’

In recent years, a multitude of enthusiasts for the work of Eric Ravilious has confirmed that his work offers them something special, but if it is more than prettiness, what is it?

The Ravilious craze can also be interpreted as one of a series of rebellions against the twentieth century hegemony of Modernism, the movement that spurned prettiness in the pursuit of truth. Alan Powers, author of two books on Ravilious and others on art and design in Britain between the wars, looks for the answers by turning over some of the stones along the road.

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