Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham, is proud to present:
LOVE , ART , LOSS: The Wives of Stanley Spencer
Stanley Spencer’s life and work were dominated by his relationships with his two wives, Hilda Carline and Patricia Preece. The slow but devastating breakdown of his first marriage and the immediate but no less devastating collapse of the second must be one of the most compelling art historical stories of modern times.
For Spencer, these relationships ran in tandem with his love for his home in Cookham, resulting in some of his most powerful work. Ultimately Spencer was forever spiritually bound to his first wife, Hilda, writing to her even after her death. These relationships almost resulted in financial ruin and emotional collapse, but Cookham and art were his constant solace.
This exhibition will explore how Spencer’s paintings convey the joys, sorrows and complexities of these relationships. Portraiture, in particular, evokes the conflicting forces at play: love and objectivity; lover and wife; voyeurism and the gaze; and the consummated and the unfulfilled. Hilda’s Self Portrait (Tate) and Spencer’s Portrait of Patricia Preece (Southampton City Art Gallery) are powerful images of these complicated figures who brought this artist to despair and at the same time artistic redemption.
His unique evocation of the frailty of human condition was seminal to the development of Modern British Art, without whom Freud, Bacon and Grayson Perry would not be as we know them today.
March 26 – November 1 2020.
Open daily 10.30 – 17.30 (last entry 17.00)