Friday, 26 October 2012

Witold Kay Korzeniewicz, continued

Witold Kay-Korzeniewicz
(1914 Poland – 1990 Betws y coed
British-Polish architect and London city planner
amateur painter and model boat builder.


Thanks to reader (and painting owner) Lizzy, here are some newly found facts concerning the artist and the  charming "Grosvenor School" steam tug. The article-posting was the reason for Lizzy to contact by  telephone Mrs. Kay Korzeniewicz who, surprised by the attention, explained her husband was not only a of steam tug enthousiast and a keen amateur painter (there are probably more paintings by his hand surviving) but also a very skilled model boat builder. 

They've met in Scotland, where she, as a musician, entertained the Polish 309 Polish RAF Squadron, stationed in Renfrew and later near St. Andrews in the early 1940's. I found a large photograph with this 309 sqaudron but the (first?) members on it are not identified. Later Witold finished the architect school in Liverpool where he might not have been the only owner/builder of a model steam tug of this type. Mr. Korzeniewitcz also designed their home in Betsw (Wales). 

And I've found a model steam tug that has great similarities with the painting and the model 'RENO" build by Mr. Fox that is in the Liverpool Museum. It's named 'SANSON' and is available in Australia to this day.

If it is 100% after an original design l don't know yet, but, for the small difference of 3 or 4 portholes, it's very much after the design of these Liverpool steam tugs, designed and build in 1915 and 1922 in this great photograph (below) from the mid-late 1950's and taken in Birkenhead Alfred Basin. It is showing three Rea Towing Company steam tugs. And:  compare the funnels in company colours in Mr. Fox model and in the painting. These tugs were put out of service and demolished soon after in 1961 and 1962: Yorkgarth (left) and Graygarth (right). Carlgarth, a slightly smaller steam tug, lies in the middle

Here's a nice, but more contemporary, linocut print of a steam tug with a touch of that great North German painter and printmaker Emil Nolde (1867-1956) by a (most probably) American printmaker because there's where I found it. It is signed Keating '75. Hopefully a reader knows or recognises the printmaker, because I've choosen it my October New Acquisition Print as a lasting reminder of Mr. Korzeniewics painting but sofar failed to find the printmakers identity.

Please do not hestitate leaving additions or comments to this (or any other) posting. 

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Nancy Grant, continued

Nancy Grant 
Modernist Australian painter, drawer and printmaker

Thanks to reader Ruby Tuesday and some follow-up research today I’d like to share some first results following last weeks (before) posting. I've found in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia 12 linocuts (with plan drawings!) by painter and printmaker John Flexmore (1911-2003) donated by Nancy Grant with her own work in 1996 (two years before she died). 

Sadly they are not on-line, but the one above and this sleeping cat sketch are. Was it meant to be for a print ? I've send a request to the National Gallery making them available on line since they look to me interesting and promising enough.   
A 2010 article commemorating Mary Grant’s figure drawings mentions Nancy's acquaintance with Australian artists Dorothy Braund (1926) who painted her portrait. A portrait of printmaker Barbara Brash was on display at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery in Western Australia and is now in the Cruthers Collection of Women's Art at the university of Western Australia. The works of printmaker Barbara Brash (1925-1998) (below) can be found also in the National Gallery. 

I've discovered all these artists and that other fine Australian printmaker Mabel Pye (1894-1982) had been students in the National Gallery Art School of Victoria in Melbourne (est. 1867). Nancy Grant attended classes from 1934-1936. These two prints below are by Mabel Pye:

In the Institute besides the very interesting and influential teachers Charles Wheeler (1881-1977) and William Beckwith (W.B.) McInnes (1889-1939) also taught George (Frederick Henry) Bell (1878-1966), war artist (1914-18), painter, printmaker, art critic, musician, writer and teacher. These two prints by him.
Bell had studied in that same Melbourne NGV (1895-1903), went abroad, studied in Europe and in the late 1920’s in the Grosvenor School in London, esth. in 1925 and lead by its founder Iain McNab (1890-1967). Bell, now a teacher at the NGV, returning from England  started his own private school in Melbourne in 1932. All printmakers and painters mentioned followed classes with him there. Nancy Grant was there from 1947-1952.

Nancy Grant in Australia is mostly remembered not for her linocuts (tucked away in the Gallery) but for her modernist figure drawing, inspired in the beginning by her NGV teachers and later by George Bell, Modigliani, Brancusi and Australian painter Ian Fairweather. And probably by her painting colleagues and friends Flexmore, Brash and Braund.
 Reclining nude by Nancy Grant (upper), Henri Matisse (left) and Amadeo Modigliani (right)

Most if not all modernist Australian printmakers and other artist of the period seem to have followed either in England (Ethel Spowers,  (1890-1947) Eveline Syme (1881-1961) and Bell himself) or in Bell’s Melbourne school courses, classes and modernist education. The Bell School might be considered a satellite influence in Australia even long after the flame of the Grosvenor School in London had died out in the late thirties.
Ethel Spowers
Eveline Syme
I’ve chosen just a few illustrations for this posting but discovered so many hardly ever (never?) seen prints and paintings I’ve planned for the near future several posting on these wonderful related group of inspiring Australian artists.   

For further reading see several expert articles on Grosvenor School artists in Modern Printmakers (Link) and here you'll find a good biography on George Bell (Link)

All pictures borrowed freely from the internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Nancy Grant, Australian enigma

Nancy Grant

(1903/07 - in or after 1996)

Australian linocut printmaker.

Before returning and sharing the first surprising and very promising results following Witold Korzeniewicz charming steam tug in before posting today I share some examples by an enigmatic Australian printmaker that I've found in the National Gallery of Australia. The query: "tug + boat + linocut" is how I discovered them. 
Church Ground                                    Park Land

Worth Circus
They were presented to the gallery by the artist in 1996. They are I believe of such artistic quality sharing them is the least I can do trying to find out some more about this very unknown printmaker. (All pictures are mouse clickable). 
 Back Lane

Additional comment:

Thanks to faithful follower Karen (see comments) it was noticed the circus and horse prints are wrongly labelled in the Museum collection (I will email them) as it was the famous WIRTH circus touring Australia and stationary in Melbourne in the first half of the twentieth century.

All pictures borrowed freely from Internet and the National Gallery of Australia for friendly, educational and non commercial purpose. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Witold Kay Korzeniewicz and Grosvenor School of Art

Witold Kay-Korzeniewicz
(1914 Poland – 1990 Betws y coed
British-Polish architect and London city planner
and talented amateur painter. 

(This posting has been updated 26 oktober ! )

This small painting I stumbled upon in an Internet forum (here*) has only two shortcomings: 1) it isn’t a linocut print and  2) it isn’t mine......... (see also the first comment below) 

It has written Grosvenor School of Art  all over it. Had it been created by pioneer Claude Flight (1881-1955) himself it would be in a museum. The School, not a subject of this posting, started and led by Flight in 1925 existed until 1939. 
Sea Rescue Launch, painting by Sybil Andrews (1943)

It saw some great artists: Sybil Andrews (Can.), Cyril Powers, Lill Tschudi (Swiss), and three Australian ladies, Dorrit Black, Ethel Spowers and Eveline Syme among the most famous. All inspired by dynamics and speed but most of all movement.
Speed, by Claude Flight,

According to the owner of the painting (there was no mentioning how it came into his possesion) it was labeled by the maker: "Witti Kovzeniewicz" corrected by faithful blog reader Archimandrill into Witold Kay-Korzeniewicz. All this some two to three years ago. And that was about it. Along my recent quest I learned about the history and preservation of British steam tugs and the heroes of Polish RAF fighter and bomber squadrons. And as always I was to meet some known and unknown artists along the way.
and Cyril Powers 
(am I alone in detecting modern Renault design here ?) 

I found Witold aged 28 (as a student probably) in Liverpool University Polish School of Architecture established in 1942-1945 (probably on Mossley road on the edge of Sefton Park) to train Polish students reconstructing Poland after the War.
Tug by contemporary artist British Christopher Brown (b.1953) 

and German (Hamburg) Alwin Cartstens (1906-1982)

Poland was overrun in 1939 but history took quite a different turn when the communists weren’t to leave in 1945. Witold stayed in England, he is listed from 1949 untill his retirement 1979 as an architect and city planner in London. His  grave is in Welsh Betws y Coed.

But what about the painting itself ? I had hopes the little steam tugboat could help in identifying. Googling pictures, at first I was convinced it had all characteristics of a typical British design (above) probably a so called TID Tug. A series of prefab most but not all of them steam powered tugboats build 1942-1945 to replace the severe wartime losses. 175 were build in all, and  probably based on a previous design. One every week. Most of them after the war was over were sold all over the world. Just a few, restored now, survive to this day. So reading I learned a lot. I saw a great many steam tugs in paintings (below Maurice de Vlaminck) drawings and photographs.

Could Witold have been a polish RAF man ? The RAF counted almost  20.000(!) Polish men (and women !), many of them veterans of the 1939 events. Surviving his tour of duty (many did not) he could have entered the Architecture School class as I found some ex-RAF men that have. But I failed finding Witold (quickly) in the RAF files. There are limits even to my searching abilities and powers. 
This example by Ann Hutchins (b.1943), SS Plato, 
a tug with some similarities, but for the bow, in design.
and closely resembles a 1954 build river Mersey steam tug.

Struggling on and having again a closer look at the painting I had to admit to myself the TID type tug design did not fit exactly the painting. What are architects known for besides creativity ?  Right: accuracy. Besides, during my pictures hunt having seen many hundreds of pictures of steam tugboats (yes I know, it's sometimes refered to as a touch of Asperger) and I was sure I had somewhere seen a picture that had the right characteristics of the painting but forget to save. It cost me nearly an hour using the computers history finding it. But I did.

And now comes the surprise, the painting is probably/possibly made after a model boat created in the 1940-50's. The SS Reno. And it’s in the City of Liverpool Museum. It is labeled to be a phantasy design, but I do not know why, nor am I convinced. It was made by a bicycle repairer and gifted model-boat builder a Mr. Fox from Smithsdown Road which is on the edge of Sefton Park Liverpool just half a mile from the Archtitecture School. The park has a central pond, where no doubt in the 1940-50’s model boat builders showed nd tried their creations. Maybe they've met, maybe Mr. Korzeniewicz bought his bike from Mr. Fox. Maybe there's a completely different explanation. Maybe the solution lies in the three porthole design. Who knows ? Who tells ?

Anno 2012 a Mrs. Elisabeth Kay-Korzeniewicz, who has donated Witold's professional archive to a London Museum, is (still ?) living in Middlesex. My hopes are some more facts will turn up now. And, fingers crossed, maybe some more paintings by Witold.

This 1935 linocut maybe was the next nicest surprise finding along my quest. It's titled "Tug" and I would never have found it without this posting. The very obscured maker (her prints are only to be found in a museum) I will reveal to readers in the next posting and show also some more wonderful prints by this lady printmaker.  

All pictures and text freely borrowed from the internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use.