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Zoomable Image of Composition, 1923

Composition, 1923

Sir Cedric Lockwood Morris, Bt. (1889-1982)

Composition, 1923

Sir Cedric Lockwood Morris, Bt. (1889-1982)

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Price:

Reserved

Materials:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

19 11/16 x 23 10/16 in (50 x 60 cm)

Provenance:

Private collection, UK

Exhibited:

Paintings by Cedric Morris. 1928. Arthur Tooth & Sons, London. 9–25 May, No 37

Inscriptions:

Signed ‘C Morris 7.23’ (lower right)

Evidently an experiment in texture and form, Morris organises this work as a series of juxtaposed structures in order to produce particular visual effects..

In 1923, the year this abstract work was painted, Morris had been travelling extensively through Europe for three years, all the time absorbing the modernist developments being achieved by artists across the continent. Composition is a painting bound to the European avant-garde. The way in which Morris has reduced the surface plane and eliminated the perspective is indicative of the influence of artists such as Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) and Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). The interplay between geometric, abstract and organic forms dominate this work and the result is an enigmatic painting full of vitality and compositional thought. In 1923, Morris produced at least four other pieces in the style of Composition, all of which demonstrate a desire to grapple with Modernism.

Evidently an experiment in texture and form, Morris organises this work as a series of juxtaposed structures in order to produce particular visual effects. The overall experience is at first jarring; however, further examination exposes an apparent reluctance to abandon the spatial plane entirely. Although the composition would appear to be non-representational, there is still a certain dependency on a sense of space. The forms exist in a space that is constructed by their direct relationship with one another, thereby establishing the illusion of three dimensions. This is further suggested by two dominant lines that extend from the left and right foreground, respectively, and appear to converge at a hidden vanishing point behind the dominant central form. When perceived in tandem, these lines suggest a regression into pictorial space. The relationship between these two forms establishes a dominant perspective; it is a spatial device that has its origins in antiquity and later revived by Renaissance artists.

Furthermore, Morris structures the space by incorporating forms that closely resemble architectural features or boundary divides, such as walls, rooftops and garden fences. In this respect, Morris synthesises the abstract and the familiar in a work that obscures the separation between abstract and representational painting. In addition, Morris maintains a connection to representation by apparently including an abstracted form of a bird, possibly that of a duck.

About the artist

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