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During Winston Churchill’s long career he painted hundreds of landscapes which have been viewed as picturesque, a British genre popular to painters and landscape gardeners, mimicking nature. Artists sold flatwork, architectural designs, or led countryside tours; for the gentleman, painting was merely an aristocratic pastime. I will argue that analyzing Churchill’s bright palette used to saturate spatiality on canvas, often resembling military field mapping, uncovers considerations beyond a pastime. Russian Constructivism permeated Britain’s art groups between the wars, acting as a backdrop to Churchill the painter, thus providing contextual contrast in the form of abstracted works to his representational landscapes. Applying a cultural Marxist methodology in the guise of Russian Constructivism to his art elucidates his unintentional responses to social and political change, along with his commitment to the survival of Britain, while allowing for aristocratic ideologies expected in Churchill’s aesthetics. Overlooked contextual underpinnings such as Britain’s struggles with two World Wars while maintaining the eroding Empire, are layered into Churchill’s Romantic and Modernist stylizations. Artists, primarily Cézanne with his determination to objectify Impressionistic light, appealed to Churchill who painted Britain’s place even when abroad. I will argue that the category of amateur placed on deceased artists continues to be illdefined. Insightful content found beneath Churchill’s paintings has been overlooked because vii he was deemed a gentleman painter during his life. Churchill’s aristocratic lineage, evident at Blenheim, his ancestral home, left him the social status of amateur artist no matter how much talent he exuded or how many works he sold. The importance of place as embodied in his love for country and found in his paintings is preserved at Blenheim and Chartwell. Post World War II commercialism produced Kitsch which Churchill readily embraced, thus eroding his amateur status which contributed to increasing the value of his artwork. Contextual analysis of Churchill’s landscapes through a Constructivist-cultural Marxist framework allows contemplation of his paintings not just as a gentleman’s pastime but also as troped imagery imbibed with social and political thought complimenting his writings and orations, leading to a better understanding of the man and his times.
Art Practice | Fine Arts | History | Political History
Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts
Bundy, Jean Wellington Nelson, "SURVIVAL AND CHANGE IN THE PAINTINGS OF WINSTON S. CHURCHILL" (2016). Academic Research and Dissertations. 17.
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