Patrick Caulfield (29 Jan 1936 – 29 Sept 2005) was an English painter and printmaker who started his formal education as an artist at the Chelsea School of Art in 1956. He then studied from 1960-1963 at the Royal College of Art where he was one year below students who were credited with starting the UK pop art movement.
As a student he was influenced by abstract painters such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock even though he only experimented in abstract painting for a short time. His bold, colourful prints and paintings are deemed to be Pop Art even though Caulfield himself was wary of being connected with any such movements. His association with the movement with ‘Pop Art’, mainly due to exhibiting alongside David Hockney, Allen Jones and R B Kitaj at the ‘New Generation’ exhibition in 1964.
Unlike the American Pop Artists his works depicted ordinary every day subjects such as a vase, buildings or interiors rather than images of popular culture such as celebrities or advertising products. It is the way he treats his subject that that gives his work a Pop Art feel, creating ambiguity by treating fine art subjects in an unrealistic and stylised manner.
When I first looked at Caulfield’s work it seems to me that the negative space plays just as much an important role in his paintings as positive space. In some of his images he uses negative space to sculpture the objects which in some cases are an abstract image but we get the sense that we are looking at the whole thing subject.
In the ‘White Ware’ screen prints he has managed to balance out the level of importance between negative space, reflected light and what we automatically presume is the main subjects such as a vase. With this he leaves the viewer trying to imagine what the light source maybe or what could be causing the shadows in his images. He also creates a good sense of distance between the foreground objects and what’s happening in the background by using very simple shapes to depict reflected light for example.
Lung Ch’uan Ware and Black Lamp 1990
In some of these prints he has inserted a second object behind the main subject, this is made up of one or two shapes and difficult to work out what it is but is just as important as the main subject. I love some of his other paintings and in the future I would very much like to paint something in the style of ‘After Lunch 1975’ due to the simplicity of my Bangkok apartment and the technical city scape outside. For now I will concentrate on the task at hand and make a drawing in the style of his ‘White Ware’ screen prints for this research point.
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