|Peter Lanyon, Soaring Flight, 1960, Arts Council (copyright artist's estate)|
I've no doubt people are queuing round Trafalgar Square to see the show, as we British love our portraits as we did in Gainsborough's day, but there are other exhibitions that are well worth seeing. One of the reasons why the Courtauld Gallery is my favourite London venue is that you never know what they will show next. A glance through the gallery's exhibitions archive shows just how eclectic the programme is, with recent outings for Goya, Egon Schiele, Jasper Johns, Durer, Picasso and Peter Lely. It is a rather male list, come to think of it...
|Peter Lanyon, Thermal, 1960, Tate (copyright artist's estate)|
Not that Lanyon was an abstract artist in the way that Ben Nicholson was in the 1930s, when it was strictly circles and squares only. Lanyon worked that rich margin between the abstract and the real, which in his case meant the landscape, coast and sky of Cornwall; his gliding paintings evoke (I imagine, having never done it) the strange experience of flying alone and unpowered, like a bird with prosthetic wings. For a more in-depth analysis, have a look at Laura Cummings' review.
|David Jones, Capel-y-Ffin, 1927, Nat Museum Wales (copyright artist's estate)|
He was one of an exciting group of painters in a medium undergoing an unlikely 20th century renaissance, and something of a leader. Ravilious and Bawden admired his dry brush technique, and it was Jones who, as Secretary, invited the latter to show with the Seven and Five in 1932.
|David Jones, The Terrace, 1929, Tate (copyright artist's estate)|
|David Jones, Flora in Calix-Light, 1950, Kettle's Yard (copyright artist's estate)|
'Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon's Gliding Paintings' is at the Courtauld Gallery.
'David Jones: Vision and Memory' is at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester. The accompanying book, by Ariane Banks and Paul Hills, covers engravings and inscriptions as well as watercolour, and is thoroughly recommended.