Patrick Caulfield

Modern British Artist

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Patrick Caulfield, CBE, RA (29 January 1936 – 29 September 2005), was an English painter and printmaker known for his bold canvases, which often incorporated elements of photorealism within a pared-down scene.

He studied at Chelsea School of Art from 1956 to 1960, and during this time he won two prizes which funded a trip he made to Greece and Crete upon graduation. The visit to the island proved important, with Caulfield finding inspiration in the Minoan frescoes and the bright, hard colours on Crete.

He taught at Chelsea School of Art from 1963–71. In 1964, he exhibited at the New Generation show at London's Whitechapel Gallery, which resulted in him being associated with the pop art movement. This was a label Caulfield was opposed to throughout his career, seeing himself rather as "a 'formal' artist".

From the mid-1970s he incorporated more detailed, realistic elements into his work; After Lunch (1975) is an early example. Still-life: Autumn Fashion (1978) contains a variety of styles – some objects have heavy black outlines and flat colour, but a bowl of oysters is depicted more realistically and other areas are executed with looser brushwork. Caulfield later returned to his earlier, more stripped-down style of painting.

Caulfield's paintings are figurative, often portraying a few simple objects in an interior. Typically, he used flat areas of simple colour surrounded by black outlines. Some of his works are dominated by a single colour.

Patrick Caulfield’s instantly recognisable paintings and prints can seem deceptively simple, with their bold colours and banal everyday objects delineated in solid outlines. He had a remarkable ability to create artworks that appeared as if they had arrived fully formed, with their crisp lines, flat paint surfaces, and stylised imagery.

The truth, of course, is never quite so straightforward. Behind the visual economy of Caulfield’s paintings and prints are complex ideas, drawings and studies. In 2009 Pallant House Gallery exhibited "Patrick Caulfield: Between the Lines" presenting drawings/studies alongside his witty and iconic paintings to provide a fascinating insight into the artist’s working methods and the development of his ideas.

In 1987, Caulfield was nominated for the Turner Prize for his show The Artist's Eye at the National Gallery in London. In 1996 he was made a CBE.