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Showing posts from February, 2016

Virginia Woolf on Jan Gordon, 1919

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Reading "The Letters of Virginia Woolf" (1912-1922), I came across a mention of the Athenaeum in her letter to Vanessa Bell, dated Sunday 23rd March 1919. She writes, "Our chief amusement now is Murry and the Athenaeum." John Middleton Murry had just become editor of this venerable magazine, at the age of 30.

There is later a brief mention of Jan Gordon:
" It is rather fun about the Athenaeum, as every one is to write what they like, and Mrs Ward is to be exposed, and in time they hope to print imaginative prose by me - Murry has got a man called John Gordon, a very bad painter he says, to do art criticism; but I suggested that he'd much better get Duncan to the important things at any rate - not that Duncan is exactly fluent in composition, but I don't see why he and I and you shouldn't maunder about in picture galleries, and what with his genius and your sublimity and my perfectly amazing gift of writing English we might turn out articles betwee…

Ezra Pound on Jan Gordon's War Paintings, 1920

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In "The New Age," January 1st, 1920, Ezra Pound (American modernist poet and critic) writes (as "B.H. Dias"), on an exhibition of "The Nation's War Paintings and Other Records, Imperial War Museum." He gives Jan Gordon special mention for achieving the feel of war.

"Jan Gordon's 374 looks as if it were by the same hand as 377, but it has the atmosphere of its subject, possibly attained by the masks on the operators; yet there are bandages in 377, and the feeling of eeriness, of the uncanny and unusual could as well have been produced by bandages as by masks. No, the first real demarcation we find in this show, apart from differences of "school," is just this question of getting the feel of war, the feel of the evil and uncanny: some of the pictures are full of it, others are just attempts to evade the issue; to pass off what might have been an old landscape painted in 1898 for a fulfilment of the nation's commission to paint a …