Early Modernism - Unit One - 7 & 5 Society

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Marlborough Fine Art, London
Sir Leslie Martin
Private collection, UK


Hayward Gallery, London, Thirties, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1979, cat no. 6.74


Jackson’s style, whilst having a clear relation to Nicholson in his earliest works, seems to retain a more anthropomorphic element than that of the older man, and by the end of his short career, it has closer affinities with the more mainstream European modernist style. These two works, with their carefully balanced simple floating forms, indeed perhaps have a closer relation in one of the major figures of the continental movement, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, the Hungarian former Bauhaus teacher who arrived in London in 1935, and was a Hampstead neighbour of Jackson. Moholy-Nagy had long experimented with a variety of media, but in the late 1930’s had begun to produce paintings which incorporated plexiglass, and thus allowed areas of colour to physically float above the ground. The purity of paintings such as the present work also have a link to the contemporary experiments in textile design being produced by Alastair Morton for the Edinburgh Weavers Co., which aimed to transfer the modernist design ethos to fabrics and carpets. The delicate balance of intertwining lines in Painting 1939 equally suggest a knowledge of the sculptural work of Alexander Calder, an artist on familiar terms with the Hampstead modernist circle. Regardless of the route by which Jackson came to such a manner, it is in paintings such as these, amongst his very last, that we see the lost potential for English modernist painting, when his allegiances transferred to architecture.