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Spencer, Stanley - Landscapes 06 - Pines



Type of Spiritual Experience


Stanley used landscapes like stage sets waiting for their cast of characters to appear.  In effect, he made his landscapes into the ‘stage’.  Enter stage right, exit stage left.  Or in Stanley’s case enter stage left, exit stage right.

The Art and Vision of Stanley Spencer - Kenneth Pople

If working on a landscape, Stanley would aim to revisit the scene at the same time of day and hopefully in the same weather. ……Once absorbed into his experience, a subject thus became a fixed, unchangeable entity for Stanley - eternal, in his vocabulary. Nothing of it could be removed or altered after his initial received impression. When painting landscapes, any objects or figures which might present themselves, however lawfully, would be excluded.

“My landscapes”, he once wrote, ”are places waiting for their figures”

 - that is, he could insert figures only if such figures had an eternal association equivalent to that which the landscape gave him, a situation which could occur in an up-in-heaven or metaphysical interpretation, but not in an observed scene once sealed in memory. So his landscapes are empty of figures.

None of this should be taken to imply that Stanley's observed work was photographic. In fact, in one important aspect, it was unphotographic. …. To a standard camera lens only the close detail or the distant would be in focus. By making both sharp, Stanley is in effect imposing a foreground wide-angle perspective on the expectedly normal eye view, a presentation which can intrigue, if unsettle, a viewer. ………………..

In contrast, the figures in Stanley's visionary paintings form an integral part of the concept. …. normally they were real people he had seen or known. In this respect he acted like a playwright who, needing to motivate his story through the use of characters, creates them by using the personalities of people he had come across.

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Spencer, Stanley

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Activities and commonsteps



Contemplation and detachment