Monday, 17 September 2012

James Wood New World Vistas

James Wood 1889-1975 - Painter, draughtsman, writer and aesthete, born in Southport, Lancashire. From 1908-11 he read history at Cambridge University, then in Paris, after studying etching, pursued painting with Percyval Tudor-Hart before going to Munich. During World War I he was in the army and Royal Flying Corps, later working on battleship camouflage. 

Among Wood's writings after World War I were The Foundations of Aesthetics, written with C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards. He also wrote on colour harmony, a favourite topic, and in 1926 published New World Vistas, an autobiographical work. 

From the 1930s Wood became increasingly fascinated by Persian Art; he learn Persian and subsequently became art adviser to the Persian government. His own paintings were influenced by Kandinsky, and he showed at Leicester and Zwemmer Galleries in solo exhibitions. 

After 1955 he rarely exhibited, but painted several portraits of Cambridge Academics. Wood lived in a remote cottage above Llantony, Monmouthshire, from which he continued to monitor artistic development and where he worked until his death. In 1980 Blond Fine Art held a show of his output. Wood was married to a painter, Elisabeth Robertson, who had previously been the wife of the artist and writer Humphrey Slater. British Abstract Art

Lowry makes no direct reference to James Wood's New World Vistas 1926 but he does use lines from the book in the short story 'Goya The Obscure'. Lowry also utilises the overall atmosphere of Wood's work for the Liverpool scenes in 'Goya The Obscure' as both works include a walk around the Pier Head, Liver Buildings and docks. Compare:

"the wind rushed round him with a cold monstrous final insistency." ('Goya The Obscure' Pg. 277)

"the wind rushed round me with a cold monstrous final insistency." (New World Vistas Pg. 70);

"Tram- lines ran in front of the offices; further away secret tunnels bored through the gloomy buildings and the Overhead Railway and a number of sloping bridges leading to the landing stage spread round in bleak and bare confusion." ('Goya The Obscure' Pg. 277).

"Tram lines ran in front of the offices, dark tunnels branched away between side buildings, the overhead railway and a number of sloping bridges leading to the landing stages spread round in bleak and bare confusion." (New World Vistas Pg. 70).

"Yet the howling wind had blown everything clean as a whistle and the sky was a ferocious blue" (Pg. 277).

"A howling wind had blown the air as clean as a whistle for miles and miles" (New World Vistas Pg. 67).

"Tram bells clanged" ('Goya The Obscure' Pg. 277).

"The tram bells clanged but no one heeded..." (New World Vistas Pg. 69).

"Mothers with warm-smelling furs.." ('Goya The Obscure' Pg. 277).

"..graceful girls smelling of fur.." (New World Vistas Pg. 67).

"But the wind had enveloped and overarched all these masses of iron and concrete......('Goya The Obscure' Pg. 277).

"The wind alone seemed to surround and over-arch this mass of concrete and iron...." (New World Vistas Pg. 70).

"Brutal buildings strode into the air above Joe Passilique.." ('Goya The Obscure' Pg. 277).

The twin towers capped with dull green lead and the peculiar figures of the Liver bird abutted on the blue sky with an unpleasant brutality."  (New World Vistas Pg. 70).

"A drove of black cattle clattered past, herded by a hooligan with a twisted stick." ('Goya The Obscure' Pg. 278).

"..a herd of black cattle..pursued by a tramp in a ragged blue suit....waving a stick as he rushed after them with the gaunt determination of a maniac.." (New World Vistas Pg. 71).

Lowry utilised the same lines in Chapter 2 of Ultramarine (Pg.s.69-70).

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