Bestial devastation / defecal of gerbe / vaginal chicken - grind your life


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With Henry Moore’s contemporaneous Shelter Drawings and John Piper’s depictions of the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, Sutherland’s Blitz paintings were seen as some of the most successful works emanating from the WAAC scheme. They helped to further the artist’s reputation by revealing a new aspect of his work and introducing it to a much wider audience while, more generally, contributing to a persistent image of the Blitz. They were worked in a manner similar to that employed by Moore and Piper and the style might be thought to emulate the process of destruction depicted. The production of all three artists consisted, in the most part, of works on paper executed in a mixture of ink , gouache and crayon resulting in a complex surface effect of modulating texture and depth. The success of the technique would be reflected in its popularity among younger artists during and after the war.

An East End Street is on thin paper laid on to 3/16 in. hardboard with office paste. The board had already sustained damage to its corners and seems to have had fragments of paper attached to it; these may relate to the fact that it had been used for an earlier painting, as the inscription on the back suggests. Small areas of missing paper and a tear, bottom right, probably occurred during mounting. The paper, which is now cream coloured, was trimmed after it was attached to the board and, characteristically, squared up. Though some of the design was drawn in soft pencil or charcoal , much of it also displays a free brush-marked technique. Ink was applied using pen and brush and in places the paper was torn by the vigour of the penwork. Much of the image is of acqueous washes which, in places, were thrown off by the resistant surface of white and yellow crayon. The consequent mottled effect and the emphatic linear element that results from the redrawing of the basic design in ink are the two most obvious characteristics of the style Sutherland shared with Moore and Piper. Some efflorescence has been removed from the black areas in the bottom left hand corner and on the right hand side. In 1979 the leanly painted hardboard mount was found to be losing pigment and was sprayed with a pastel fixative. [2]

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