Sandra Lawrence

The Pop Art movement of the 60's achieved international acceptance, but historians have drawn a distinction between American and British Pop Art. Many of them have pointed out that the Pop phenomenon was recognizable earlier in Britain than it was in the United States. It certainly had a liberating effect on British artists. Among them was Sandra Lawrence. She translated the American life-style in Britain, which often becomes the British aspect of Americanism in England. Lawrence's work is a documentary of this social transference of culture. She is one of the new lights to emerge from the pop-realist move ment in Britain. Influenced by photo realism in the 70's, her style moved toward romantic realism. The same clarity of technique she demonstrated in her Pop art, Lawrence applied to her still-life series, using less political subject matter. Here, she has reproduced objects to the point where they be come trompe l'oeil. The use of trompe l'oeil tradition of painting can be best explained through a basic understanding of physical perception. If the depth in a painting is removed, or very greatly reduced, then the eye may be fooled into mistaking a painted subject for a real object. As illustrated in one of Sandra Lawrence's, works, for example, the muscular adjustment required to change the focus of the eye from the fold in a napkin to the flat linen is very slight. If you paint such things, the illusion of reality may be obtained at least for the moment. The momentum of the illusion is extremely important. Our pleasure in trompe l'oeil arises from the realization that our oeil has been tromped! Sandra Lawrence chooses objects, situations and compositional devices that involve as little perception of depth as possible. The eye stops at the picture plane, while the objects placed upon this flat surface seem to protrude into the spectator's space. To further fool the eye, all of Lawrence's paintings keep the scale of her subject close to the size in which the represented object is seen in normal experience. This also explains why trompe l'oeil is almost entirely used for still life. Still life deals with objects small enough to be represented in their natural size on an canvas' of manageable proportions. Lawrence's versatility and adventurousness led her to undertake the task of creating the monumental Overlord Tapestry. She was commissioned in 1968 by Lord Dulverton to design and paint full-size cartoons for the Overlord Embroidery. It was commissioned as a permanent memorial to and record of Operation Overlord, the code words for the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944. The embroidery measures 272 feet and is the largest of its kind in the world. It is 33 feet longer than the 11th century Bayeaux Tapestry, which in many ways is the Overlord's medieval counterpart. Given the extremely difficult medium of pastel and its limitations, Sandra Lawrence has transposed her imagery into a strangely ethereal and surreal series of still lifes.
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