This is a substantial and generously-illustrated account of Stanley Spencer’s life and work that should make a convert of anyone who reads it.
Spencer is one of the most quintessentially English artists of the twentieth century and can make you laugh, cry and gasp at the sheer beauty of his work, often all at the same time. He is also, though, confrontational and challenging. His Freudian (both Sigmund and Lucian) figure work frequently addresses the viewer and demands their attention. At other times, his figures are so absorbed in their tasks that they ignore the rest of the world completely.
Spencer is also known for his religious paintings which, as for example Christ’s Entry Into Jerusalem, set in a suburban street, can be determinedly secular in their approach.
Throughout, there is a strong sense of jeu d’esprit, with Spencer playing with both form and function to engage the viewer, who is forced to have an opinion on the subject before them.
This is a thorough book which is as worthy of its subject as he is of it.
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