The Wick - Sonia Delaunay, Prismes électriques, 1914, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris

Discover Sonia Delaunay, Prismes Électriques, 1914

We’re exploring the Technicolour visions of the late, great Sonia Delaunay today, to mark her birthday. Born on 14 November 1885 in the Russian Empire – in what is Ukraine today – she blazed a colourful trail through the worlds of art, fashion, textiles and set design. Alongside her husband Robert Delaunay, she spent decades at the centre of the avant garde in Paris, co-founding the Orphism art movement, which reimagined Cubism with geometric forms, bold colours and riotous energy. As she once said: “Abstract art is only important if it is the endless rhythm where the very ancient and the distant future meet.” For Prismes Électriques, painted in 1914, she took inspiration from railway architecture and electric light.

Delaunay's adventures in colour contrasts soon found their way onto clothing and textiles, including costumes for the Ballet Russes’ Cleopatre, an embroidered coat for the actress Gloria Swanson, and fabrics for Amsterdam luxury store Metz and Co, and Liberty. If only we could step out in them today.
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The Wick - Discover Brian Clarke, Ardath, 2023

Discover Brian Clarke, Ardath, 2023

Poppies are a recurring motif for Brian Clarke, an artist who has pushed the boundaries of stained glass over his five-decade career, taking it beyond the church into museums, hotels, airports and beyond. With Remembrance Day approaching, The Wick is honing in on his 42-sq-m glass installation ‘Ardath’ at Newport Street Gallery, in which a painterly meadow of poppies and other flowers bathes the gallery in ever-changing light and colour. Eleven columns of mouth blown and etched glass are suspended from the ceiling, spanning the width of the entire room and forming a rich tapestry.

Clarke is often dubbed the ‘rock star of stained glass’ thanks to the musicians he has collaborated with (including Paul McCartney) and his pioneering approach to the medium. He is drawn to its ability to transform a space. ‘It’s a kinetic medium - it never stays still,’ he says. Ardath is the centrepiece of his solo exhibition, A Great Light, at Newport Street Gallery, which runs until 31 December 2023.
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The Wick - Edvard Munch's The Scream, 1893

Discover Edvard Munch, The Scream

It’s the art world’s most chilling painting – an emblem of horror that’s inspired films and Halloween costumes the world over, and has even been turned into an emoji. Edvard Munch’s The Scream is easily his most famous work, though in fact it is part of a series of four pieces made between 1893 and 1910 in paint and pastels. With hands clasped around its angst-ridden face, the haunting figure is thought to be standing on a road overlooking Oslo, the Oslofjord and Hovedøya, from the hill of Ekeberg. Munch's sister Laura Catherine was residing in the mental hospital at the foot of Ekeberg at the time of painting.

On the frame of the 1895 version is a poem by Munch, in which he speaks of walking with two friends and pausing when he noticed the sky had turned blood red. ‘There was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety.’ The figure in the work isn’t actually screaming – the shriek, he says, came from the surroundings. ‘I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.’ If the natural world could emit a collective scream today, imagine the din it would make.

Versions of The Scream can be seen at Oslo’s National Gallery and Munch Museum.
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The Wick - Standing Figure with African Masks 2018 Claudette Johnson born 1959 Purchased using funds provided by the 2018 Frieze Tate Fund supported by Endeavor to benefit the Tate collection 2019 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T15143

Discover Claudette Johnson, Standing Figure with African Masks

For over thirty years, the Black British artist Claudette Johnson has created larger than life drawings of Black women and men that are at once intensely intimate and powerful. Her figures — often depictions of herself, friends or relatives — usually adopt strong poses and gaze confidently beyond the frame at the viewer. Working in a variety of media, ranging from dark pastel to vibrant gouache, she looks to tell a different story of the Black British experience: ‘I felt that the figure could express everything; through figuration, abstraction and invention I could tell personal and in its widest sense political truths,’ she said in 2013.

Executed in 2018 and now held in Tate’s collection, Standing Figure with African Masks is a large-scale drawing in pastel and gouache of a female figure with her stomach exposed, hands on her hips. She looks brazenly at the viewer, with a bold expression on her face. She is standing in front of an abstract background featuring three figures wearing African masks, a nod to Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon of 1907. Drawn from life in the artist’s studio in East London, it is the first recognisable image that Johnson has made of herself. ‘But I’m not interested in portraiture or its tradition,’ she has said. ‘I’m interested in giving space to Black women presence. A presence which has been distorted, hidden and denied.’
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The Wick - Tim Walker, Guinevere van Seenus, 2006

Discover Tim Walker, Guinevere van Seenus, 2006

Known for his fantastical photographs and narrative-driven tableaux inspired by fairy tales and the uncanny, Tim Walker is one of Britain’s greatest living photographers. After studying photography at Exeter College of Art, he honed his craft as Richard Avedon’s photographic assistant in New York. Since then his extraordinary fashion photographs featuring imaginative sets and props have graced the pages of Vogue, Vanity Fair and Another. He’s also published seven books and enjoyed solo exhibitions around the world, among them the V&A’s 2019 blockbuster Wonderful Things. This photograph from 2006 shows the American model Guinevere Van Seenus lying on top of 20 mattresses in a Vivienne Westwood gown in a stately bedroom at Glemham Hall in Suffolk. Typical of Walker’s eccentric style, it prompts the viewer to question the story behind the frame. Who is she? And why is she there?
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The Wick - © 2016 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Discover Panel 58 from Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series

Between 1910 and 1970, more than six million African Americans moved from the rural South to the cities of the North, West and Midwest, chief among them Chicago, New York and St. Louis. This mass exodus, known as the Great Migration, dramatically altered the nation’s profile. In 1941, the American painter Jacob Lawrence charted this demographic shift in his Migration Series, comprising 60 small tempera paintings. Titled In the North the Negro had better educational facilities, panel 58 depicts three girls in bright dresses writing numbers on a large chalkboard. This picture of children learning in the North contrasts sharply with Lawrence’s depiction of childhood labour in the South. In panel 24, for instance, he shows four bare-chested children working in cotton fields under the sun.
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The Wick - Discover Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Bathers, 1923/27

Discover Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Bathers, 1923/27

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was one of the founding members of Die Brücker, an artist group that flourished in Germany before World War I. Inspired by the works of earlier German artists like Albrecht Dürer and those of the French avant-garde, Kirchner is best known for his portraits, landscapes and city scenes featuring lively brushwork, stylised forms and vivid colours. 
 
In the 1920s, Kirchner moved from Germany to Switzerland. The Alps surrounding his new home in Davos provided a fruitful source of inspiration. This large painting features three nude bathers against a peaceful mountainous backdrop. The rosy-hued mountains stand in striking contrast to the dark green trees and ochre-coloured figures in the foreground. Executed between 1923 and 1927, Bathers is a brilliant example of Kirchner’s desire to paint ‘the appearance of things, not their objective correctness.’ 
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The Wick - Robert Motherwell, Untitled, 1990

Discover Robert Motherwell, Untitled, 1990

One of the founders and principal exponents of Abstract Expressionism, Robert Motherwell was one of the finest American painters of the 20th century. Over the course of his 50-year career, he produced a hugely varied yet decidedly abstract output, spanning prints, lithographs, collages and paintings. He also lectured in prestigious colleges in North America and founded and edited ‘The Documents of Modern Art’ series, which published the writings of great European modernists, such as Kandinsky, Mondrian and Picasso.

Born in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1915, Motherwell studied philosophy at undergraduate and graduate level, before focusing on painting in the 1940s. Inspired by the Surrealist theory of psychic automatism, he saw his painting practice as an experimentation in visualising his feelings. In this untitled composition from 1990, Motherwell’s automatic gestures and wondering brushstrokes are executed in his signature palette of black, white, ochre and dusky pink. ‘I belong to a family of ‘black’ painters and earth colour painters in masses, which would include Manet and Goya and Matisse,’ he once said. Catch it while you can at Bernard Jacobson Gallery in Mayfair.
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The Wick - Discover Neil Stokoe, Floating Figure II, 1970

Discover Neil Stokoe, Floating Figure II, 1970

Despite remaining relatively little-known outside of the United Kingdom, the painter Neil Stokoe is considered an important contributor to the British Modern art movement of the 1950s and 60s. His work — mostly portraits of people, landscapes and intriguing situations that are difficult to decipher — has often been compared stylistically to that of his contemporaries, notably David Hockney and Francis Bacon. But his profound interest in historic masters like Velazquez, Rembrandt and Titian has also shaped his development as a painter.

With its cool blue-green tones and serene nude bather, Floating Figure II (1970) evokes the season’s light, airy mood and the exhilaration of a refreshing dip in deep cool water. Catch it while you can at London’s Saatchi Yates gallery, where it is currently on view as part of their summer Bathers exhibition.
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