‘Full of Nervous Life’: Rediscovering Keith Cunningham
A talk by Dr Laura Spada.
Discover the striking works and story of little-known Australian artist Keith Cunningham (1929 – 2014).
During the 1950s, Cunningham attended the Royal College of Art, London, working alongside great artists including Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff and Jo Tilson, at a time when legendary artists Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud dominated the London art scene.
Praised by critics, admired by peers and increasingly sought after by collectors, in the 1960s Cunningham was on the brink of reaching international fame. However, in 1967 he suddenly withdrew completely from the art world, refusing to submit his paintings to public exhibitions and hardly ever allowing outsiders to see his works. On his death in 2014 at the age of 85, Cunningham had left behind a large collection of unseen works spanning over five decades; his paintings from the 1950s and 1960s, neatly stacked in his house facing the wall, had been kept hidden, amassed in his spare room.
In 2022, Newport Street Gallery opened Cunningham’s first major exhibition, ‘The Cloud of Witness’, redefining Cunningham’s role in the London art scene of the 1950s, highlighting not only his artistic skills but also the variety of his inspirations.
At this HAC event, Dr Laura Spada introduces us to the life and work of Cunningham. We explore his powerful paintings, whose strokes of dark pigments convey intensely expressive forms, finding differences and similarities with the contemporary output of major English painters of the time. The presentation will also include a glimpse into Cunningham’s book cover designs and his diminutive, lyrical works on paper.
Image credit: Keith Cunningham, Dogs, 1956, Courtesy Keith Cunningham Estate, Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd
Organiser: HENI Art Club
Event Type: Live
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