Walter Sickert: Modern Drawings
On January 1, 1914, The New Age began printing the MODERN DRAWINGS series. It was edited by Walter Sickert, and featured works by a number of his art school students as well as the neo-realist painters with whom he shared gallery space. The first work in the series, Sickert's Portrait of Miss Enid Bagnold, was prefaced by a manifesto on "Neo-realism" in which Charles Ginner argued for the importance of direct contact between the artist and the thing being painted; this "continued intercourse" allowed for "unconscious creation produced by the collaboration of Nature and the Artist's mind" (NA 14.9:272). What was "new" about this sort of realism was its avoidance of copying and formula, and its emphasis on the subjective element of artistic creation.
Stylistically, the drawings included in the series were quite varied, from the harsh broken line used by Sickert to suggest the play of light, to the more conservative shading employed in Richards's sketch of a classical ruin. Taken together, these drawings suggest the diversity of expressive techniques that could be grouped under the umbrella term of neo-realism. These artists believed that representing the "real" was the essential function of art, but their attempts to do so were guided by newly-discovered 'modern' theories of perception.
1. Walter Sickert, Portrait of Miss Enid Bagnold
(NA 14.9, Jan 1, 1914)
2. Charles Ginner, Leicester Square
(NA 14.12, Jan 22, 1914)
"Neo-Realism must be a deliberate and objective transposition of the object (man, woman, tree, apple, light, shade, movement, etc.) under observation, which has for certain specific reasons appealed to the artist’s ideal or mood, for self-expression. When the artist is carried away by an intense desire to interpret an object or an agglomeration of objects, the only sure means at his disposal to find and express that unknown quantity in the object which raised his desire, mood, or ideal, and which united his inner self with the aforesaid unknown quantity, is a deliberate research, concise study and transposition. It is only this intimate relation between the artist and the object which can produce original and great work. Away from this we fall into unoriginal and monotonous formula."
(Ginner, NA 14.9:272)
3. Walter Sickert, The Music Lesson
(NA 14.13, Jan 29, 1914)
4. John Flanagan, Study
(NA 14.14, Feb 5, 1914)
5. Fred Richards, Temple of the Sibyl
(NA 14.16, Feb 19, 1914)
6. M.A. Mathers, Lil
(NA 14.17, Feb 26, 1914)
7. Sylvia Gosse, The Doctor
(NA 14.25, April 23, 1914)