Draft letter to Norbert Lynton
1972

Transcription of a hand-written draft letter to Norbert Lynton, Director of Exhibitions at The Arts Council, 1972

Dear Norbert,
I am writing to you following some discussion I have had recently with Gillian Ayres about the present situation lack of any group exhibition of abstract painting in London in recent years. Gillian has spoken to Alan Bowness about this and I felt that you might also be sympathetic to an approach.
Although I
There seems to be a wide measure of agreement amongst many of the painters who have worked and exhibited during the last ten years that a major failure of communication has come about through the complete lack of any group show dealing with This is the point we want to make. There has have been no major group shows of abstract contemporary English painting in London since the beginning of the 60’s – the time of Situation, British Painting in the 60’s and the New Generation. 
Further more most of these shows (and the only show slightly more [?] to Styvesant Collections) where in fact very large shows [?] covered all artistic styles and the common factor was
During the last ten years the work of younger sculptors has been very widely seen in group shows in different combinations and varied environments places. No equivalent pattern has opportunities have been made available for painters during this period at all. It is of course true that a number of painters including myself have been very fortunate in having regular one-man shows and constant gallery support. Nonetheless, one man shows though of the greatest important to the artist and necessary to the make a modest living do not [?pool] provide a good pl a large only reach a very small audience, do not provide opportunity for constructive comparison or enable art to be tested outside of our regular and controlled environment. The lack of any People are getting tired with seeing regular one man shows in the same galleries and (regardless of however good the work quality of the work shown) and this in part must explain the very destructive attitude of some of the younger critics. Of course group shows are have the occasion for a their weaknesses as you know very well – and I have often said that I do not like being in them. However the kind of show put on in Germany by Anne Seymour with each artist showing a number of works and a detailed full but unpretentious catalogue [?] does a job that any number of one man shows can never do.
I know of course that no 2 artists (or 2 critics) can agree on who should be in what and that this aspect of group shows is highly contentious.
 The present situation seems to me very demoralizing to artists in general and at the risk of sounding pompous approaching something of an insult to painters.
I have never gone in much for lobbying critics, and gallery curators etc over the years and I do not think artists should fuss about this sort of thing publicly all the time. As you However at present artists and their dealers are taking a lot of gratuitous criticism and deeply unfair criticism from a lot of directions. The establishment, so quick nowadays to pick up such trends and go along with them become fellow travelers with the new ideas must be careful that they do not do the cause of art more harm than good.
I believe know that you are against this sort of
 artistic trendiness. and know that there in English art has and I think you understand that art like life develops slowly and will not survive on one enthusiastic burst of attention but needs steady I don’t want to The pattern of support for the visual arts in this country seems to be be a stop-go policy [?] in which sudden bursts of exaggerated excitement (e.g. New Generation) are followed by total apathy an overreaction the other way (Richard Cork!) and public interest in each generation switched of [?] of just when the it’s the work is really getting into its stride! It’s so typically English. 

 

Of course, I know that in this country a Brigit Riley show at the right moment, or a Bacon, Hockney or R Hamilton show more or less any time will always attract the public more than a big show of what for the sake of clarity I will reluctantly call feil field painters, colour painters, hard edge (ouch) painters – but in 20 or 30 years time it will be be [?] to the best of the latter that the people will go to for the art of painting rather than the former. Is it always necessary to miss the miss the bus every time? I will not conclude with a list of the painters I am talking about – they are all familiar to you and show regularly and anyway I cannot speak for them anyway. Anyway – I have made said my piece. I should appreciate welcome your help or your views and am quite open to correction if my view of things seems unbalanced when compared with the view [?] from the corridors of power.