View my previous blog here: http://bazzablog-uk.blogspot.com

I reply to all comments except spam, no matter how old!

Please ignore any email address displayed here! My email is shamp123 AT sky.com

Gmail has persistently ignored my request to change it even though it belongs to a minor.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Painting of the Month (78) Jan 2018: Beryl Cook

Beryl Cook: Twins
The English artist Beryl Cook (1926 - 2008) did not take up painting until in her 60s. Her work is instantly recognisable depicting scenes of, mainly large, ladies out enjoying themselves in pubs, out shopping or on a hen night. She depicted couples dancing the Argentine tango in Buenos Aires or gambling in Las Vegas. She never had any formal training and her naive style is immensely pleasing. I hugely enjoy these pictures; they never fail to make me smile. In the picture above I like the ambiguity of the title because there are two pairs of twins on display! 
Beryl was a shy and very private person, possibly putting her wish to be more extroverted into the themes in her work. She admired and was influenced by the work of Stanley Spencer (see my previous Painting of the Month here) and her style of depicting unfashionable 'everyday' things can be seen as similar to Spencer's work. The late English comedienne, Victoria Woods, described her social realism as "Rubens with jokes".
Her work fills me with joy and she is featured in many UK galleries. More of her paintings are shown below.


I'm listening to the vastly under-rated British singer Helen Shapiro, who had hits in the 1960s while she was still at school. 
Click here for Little Miss Lonely.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

The rather saucy Sir Tom Eagerly says:
Well Bazza, I do like a buxom lady. I have some pictures that make this look tame. However, keep that under your top-hat, what? Cheers old man.

bazza said...

Sir Tom: You hardly completely disgust me at all. Cheers my good fellow and Happy New Year!

Parnassus said...

Hello Bazza, Although they are full of humor, I am not quite sure that I am ready to have one of these on my wall. I think that Cook's ideal model would have been Divine, the star of so many John Waters movies.
--Jim

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - I love Beryl Cook and hadn't until recently realised she was influenced by Spencer - when I get back someone to explore and learn more about ... love Victoria Woods' attribute - the Reubens of our artistic world .. cheers Hilary

Andrew said...

I wasn't aware of her and I absolutely love her work from what you have shown here.

klahanie said...

Ah, Bazza, old chap,

Beryl Cook paintings are quite enjoyable to leer, um, to look at. Thanks for such a fascinating insight, my esteemed friend.

Gary

David said...

Hi bazza,
I've read that Edward Burra was also an influence on good, old Beryl, although I must say that I find Burra's depictions of 1930s Harlem far more affecting than Cook's work, as he seemed to broach the darker side of urban life as well. Indeed, I suppose both Spencer and Burra, despite their stylistic similarities to Cook, would be regarded as the more "serious" artists, and I believe that Cook was never embraced by the artistic establishment. Could this have been because Cook's paintings are mainly humorous, or could it have been just plain snobbery? I certainly think there's a place for her warm and witty depictions of women, and to me they also say something about ageing, and show great sympathy and understanding toward their subjects.
Best Wishes,
David.

Hels said...

Her paintings were very Deco and lovable, I think, in both style and subject matter. Well done, Beryl!

bazza said...

Jim: I can see why they aren't the kind of thing one might want to hang on the wall but they work well in most other media: internet, postcards, coffee-table book etc. The ladies all tend to look like Divine I think!

bazza said...

Hilary: I think maybe you will have a mountain of things to do when you return! Exploring her sources and influences could be rewarding but she herself is "What you see is what you get" I think.

bazza said...

Andrew: It's always difficult to gauge how well-known Beryl Cook is outside of the UK; not very much, I suspect. She is the epitome of Englishness!

bazza said...

Gary: Good for a laugh though. Try not to get too excited!

bazza said...

David: Edward Burra and Stanley Spencer had similar styles and one could see a link between all three artists. One area where Beryl Cooks does well is 'accessibility' of her paintings. There is no hidden agenda - you can take them at face value. There is not a lot of depth as you suggest but, for me, that's not a problem or a hindrance to appreciation. She would not have been the first artist to suffer in the way you suggest.

bazza said...

Hels: I had not made an Art Deco connection before but the bright colours and strong shapes are certainly evident. It's sad that she was so shy - she didn't even go to London to receive her OBE from the Queen. Well done Beryl indeed!

Hels said...

bazza

instead of "lovable", I should have said "domestic". No big religious themes, epic tragedies, sweeping landscapes or serious portraits of the Great and the Good. Just normal people in every day life scenes.

bazza said...

"Lovable" works for me. The secular range of subjects she espoused can also be seen in much of Spencer's work. The only religious connection I can think of in Beryl Cook's work is the delightful Piano Playing Nuns painting.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I wasn't familiar with this artist or her work, but I must say, I like the ones you've shared here. It's hard to believe she had no formal training, but even though she was an introvert, I think her sense of humor shines through.

bazza said...

Susan: I think so much of her work relates directly to her personality. I believe that she 'lived' through her painting. Although her pictures had started to fetch high prices during her lifetime she always lived very modestly.

All Consuming said...

She is very 'English' and I love the joy, vitality and humour throughout her work. Fine choice sir.

bazza said...

AC: Isn't she though! You have nailed it - joy, vitality and most of all humour!