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England’s first painter. His vision is true, his grasp real, his power is life itself
This new exhibition explores the work of the charismatic English artist Christopher Wood (1901-1930). The work of Wood, along with Ben and Winifred Nicholson, David Jones and Alfred Wallis, was fundamental in shaping Jim Ede’s artistic vision. Although he had no formal training, he went to Paris in 1921 with the ambition of becoming ‘the greatest painter that ever lived.’ Soon establishing himself as a prominent and popular figure amongst the artistic and social circles of the Parisian avant-garde in the 1920s, he mingled with aristocrats and won the admiration and affection of both Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau. He was one of very few British artists to have a solo exhibition in Paris at that time, and was commissioned by Diaghilev to design the sets for his production of the ballet ‘Romeo and Juliet’. In Britain, he was a member of the 7&5 Group and developed a close and mutually inspiring relationship with Ben and Winifred Nicholson. Wood died tragically aged 29, leaving a remarkable body of work.
Paintings and drawings from the University of Cambridge and Kettle’s Yard collections, many of which are not normally on display, will be brought together with archival materials including the artist’s own set of playing cards to offer new insight into Wood’s life and work. For the first time in almost 30 years, our own ‘Boy with Cat’ will be reunited with its sister painting ‘Woman with Fox’, which was given to the University of Essex by Jim Ede in 1964. A new publication exploring the relationship between Wood and Kettle’s Yard will accompany the exhibition.
Supported by Hannay Robertson Ltd and the University of Cambridge Museums Connecting Collections programme funded by Arts Council England