Thursday, March 08, 2012

Albert Wainwright

Albert Wainwright may be something of an discovery for someone, sadly not for me. The Internet is wonderful but, in its ability to present the archives of past auctions, it is able regularly to create that sense of disappointment and frustration that comes from not having been at the party. Albert Wainwright (1898-1943) was an artist clearly, but mainly a set designer for theatre. Over the last few years, numerous of his works have slowly dribbled onto the market it seems, particularly at Fielding's in the West Midlands. And among the theatre designs there is a very strong strand of homoerotic paintings and sketches. In style there is a kind of 1930s deco-esqe line to his figures and certainly the colours and backgrounds sit well in that era. Above all else though, the fabulous colour is what sings out. As far as I'm aware, he's never been published or 'known' as a gay artist and when this group (and more) came up for sale they made very modest prices. One doesn't like to speak for the dead about their sexuality but his paintings are certainly saying something! I hope they were all bought up by one person who will do the research and eventually publish a book of his work. Very little is available to me on the Internet about his life. Annoyingly, a little while ago when I was first looking him up I came across a reasonably full biographical entry in an auction catalogue but I can't now find it again. Just as I am writing this I notice that a few more of his pictures have come up for sale, after a pause of a year or so, this coming weekend.

UPDATE: So, I have now located the small paragraph of text that was in the original auction catalogue online that tells us a little more about Albert: "Albert Wainwright was born in Castleford in 1898, the youngest of the three children of Ada and William Wainwright. When Albert was nine his father paid for him to go to Castleford Secondary School and later he went to Leeds College of Art. From his school days he was a friend of Henry Moore, who became world famous as a sculptor. Albert’s life was not a long one (he was only 45 when he died) and he never became famous like his friend, but it is easy to see from his work that he was a talented artist with a colourful imagination and a strong personal style. Throughout his life he designed programmed, stage sets and costumes for the theatre and an impressive range of his work is now in public and private collections including pieces held at the collection of Wakefield Art Gallery"

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