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Join ACE in investigating an era of tension between tradition and modernity during a period of decisive British art & design history. In this blog we explore two buildings with strong ties to the British Modernist movement of the early 20th Century.

BLOG_English_Garden Art & Design of Early 20th Century Britain

English Garden by Roger Elliot Fry, dated to sometime before 1935.

 

In 1901 the death of Queen Victoria brought to an end a period of relative political stability, but with this came the birth of the British Modernist era, a period of experimentation and defiance of previously established artistic norms. As the early years of the 20th century continued and in the prelude to the World Wars, the British Modernist movement expanded into several creative directions, with some artistic groups coming together and others diverging onto new paths.

 

This August, 2023, ACE Cultural Tours leads two tours that explore some of the works of defining British artists and designers of the early 20th century.

 

BLOG_Breakfast_at_the_Charleston Art & Design of Early 20th Century Britain

The Breakfast Table by Roger Fry, 1918.

 

Charleston Farmhouse

 

Charleston Farmhouse was the home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant from 1916. The two artists’ home became the meeting place for the group of artists, writers and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Group. Inspired by the Post-Impressionist movements of Italy the artists decorated the interior of Charleston as it became a central element of the group’s identity.

 

The Bloomsbury Group, formed in 1905, was a group of artists, writers and intellectuals, named for the London district where they worked and studied. Artists of the Bloomsbury Group Members centred their work around the idea that art should be led by formal elements such as line, colour and shape. Artistic works by the group were known for their unconventional nature that reflected their equally unconventional personalities. The Charleston Farmhouse became a centre for experimental thinking as both a venue for garden parties as well as the location of the studios of artists Duncan and Vanessa. The artistic belief of the group was that art did not have to reflect reality but instead could have a reality of its own. They created worked to create works that blended the line between art and craft and could be enjoyed as part of everyday life instead of within the confines of the gallery.

 

BLOG_Charleston_Exterior Art & Design of Early 20th Century Britain

Exterior of the Charleston Farm.

 

In 1978, following the death of Duncan Grant, the Charleston Trust was established to restore and maintain the house. During Artists’ Houses in Sussex there will be a visit to the house and gardens at Charleston as well as other locations associated with this movement.

 

BLOG_House_for_an_Art_Lover Art & Design of Early 20th Century Britain

Original competition entry for House for an Art Lover by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1901.

 

House for an Art Lover

 

House for an Art Lover was originally conceived as a design for an architectural design competition by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret MacDonald. Mackintosh (1868 - 1928) was a Scottish architect, designer and artist; He was best known for his influence and contributions to Modern Style, otherwise known as British Art Nouveau.

 

House for an Art Lover gets its name from the competition the design was entered into, in which was looking for “genuinely original modern designs will be considered”. Although disqualified for a late entry of certain illustrations, the design received high praise from the competition judges. From 1901, the year of the competition, until 1989, the design remained merely a concept until Graham Roxburgh, the engineer responsible for the restoration of other nearby Mackintosh projects, proposed the idea of building the house. In 1990 Roxburgh’s team completed the construction of the house.

 

BLOG_House_for_an_Art_Lover_Interior Art & Design of Early 20th Century Britain

Interior of House for an Art Lover, designed by Mackintosh in 1901, built in 1990.

 

Mackintosh’s original concept was designed to be experienced as a in whole. The interior of the house contrasts traditional Victorian with modern designs and blends natural and abstract forms. Although the final construction in 1990 had many revisions and is not a wholly original Mackintosh design, it still retains authentic Mackintosh elements and stands as a homage to the architect. During Glasgow: Patrons, Art & Innovation there will be visits to several Mackintosh projects and we hope to include a visit to House for an Art Lover amongst these.

 


Image credits:

English Garden | Image in public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The Breakfast Table | Image in public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Charleston Exterior | Image by Antiquary on Wikimedia Commons under CC BY SA 4.0
House for an Art Lover | Image in public domain via Wikimedia Commons
House for an Art Lover Interior | Image by Culture Grid on Europeana under CC BY 3.0