Liverpool artwork of the day – Wednesday July 11 2007. ‘Windermere House’ 1972 by John Baum at Tate (‘Centre Of The Creative Universe: Liverpool and the Avant Garde) until September 9 2007
Room 5 of this exhibition at Tate Liverpool is sub-titled ‘Retirn of The Real’…
The 1970s saw the return of realist painting in Liverpool, as many influential artists in the city looked to American photorealist painting. John Baum, Maurice Cockrill and Sam Walsh – all at the time lecturing at the city’s art school – each adopted the style to varying degrees, yet still produced paintings depicting Liverpool.
Cockrill’s detailed façades of public buildings such as The Walker Art Gallery 1974-5 and Sudley 1974 draw upon the heightened mood in works by American painter Edward Hopper, establishing what Cockrill termed a ‘synthetic realism’. Welsh artist Baum’s painting of poet Roger McGough’s Sefton Park residence Windermere House 1972 imagines a Liverpool redolent of West Coast America, with verdant grass and perfect blue skies.
In Five Girls 1973, Baum captures the conversation of his students outside the art college. As with the chatter we cannot hope to hear, we are always at a once-remove with Baum’s work. The artist hoped to ‘retain a gap between the onlooker and the painting, just as with the stage or cinema there is a gap between the onlooker and the performance.’