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This report is taken from PN Review 207, Volume 39 Number 1, September - October 2012.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
In 1951, Ceri Richards was one of the sixty ‘distinguished artists’ invited by the Arts Council to contribute to an exhibition for the Festival of Britain, an event affectionately remembered at its fiftieth anniversary last year. (I doubt it will be possible to say the same about the excruciating Millen­nium Dome.) As his subject Richards chose Trafalgar Square, a great hub loaded with symbolism that he knew very well, because by that time London had been his home for twenty-five years. He filled a book with sketches and produced not one, but a series of large oil paintings in which he isolated and reassembled the familiar features of the square. The paintings are vibrant with colour and movement, scintillant with light. They are modernist paintings.

How distinguished an artist was he? Richards won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, where his exceptional ability in drawing from the figure was recognised by Henry Moore, who, in the early 1920s, had just begun teaching there. In due course, he taught at Chelsea College, the Slade and, turning full circle, at the Royal College. He became a Trustee of the Tate Gallery in 1959. The catalogue of a retrospective exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Gallery in 1960 praised his ‘lyrical invention’ and a display of technique ‘that has no counterpart in England’. In 1961 he became an honorary fellow of the Royal College. His reputation confirmed, he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1962, where he won the Giulio Einaudi ...


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