Graham Sutherland | Original prints, lithographs, etchings and illustrated books


"In painting, you have to destroy in order to gain, you have got to sacrifice something you are quite pleased with in order to get something better. Of course, it's a risk."

(Graham Sutherland)



Graham Vivian Sutherland (London, 24 August 1903 - Menton, 17 February 1980) was a British painter.

It can be considered among the leaders of contemporary British painting. He began as an engraver, affected by the influence of Blake and taught engraving at the Chelsea School of Art.

He illustrated books, drew costumes and sets for the theater, then, since 1936, he devoted himself to painting giving surrealism an original and typically English version in which there are influences of Klee, Lam and Picasso.

In the first period he worked on an idea of ​​landscape, transforming the vegetable and mineral forms into species of totems that emerge threatening from the united bottom in a climate full of psychoanalytic suggestions. During the war he was commissioned, together with other artists, including Moore and Nash, to illustrate episodes of London life during the war. He gave a very personal interpretation, depicting hallucinating visions of London and Wales devastated by bombing.

It is the period in which the artist intensifies his interest in the study of the human figure, through which he will then reach the painful Crucifixion for the Church of St. Matthew of Northampton and the numerous sketches made from 1952 to 1961 for the tapestry of Christ in glory in the Cathedral of Coventry. In the seventies he also took care of Mailart and had contacts in Italy with Eraldo Di Vita of Milan.

In the following years he returned, with Standing Forms and Heads, to the investigation of the unconscious: the theme of pain (recurring motif of thorns), the allusions to the charm of the unexpected and a sense of persistent existential anguish permeated with ancestral obsessions are constant. (another recurring reason for insects and monsters). The artist is also famous for his portraits of famous people: William Somerset Maugham, Winston Churchill and others.

Present as an exhibitor at the Venice Biennale of 1952 and at the Biennale di San Paolo in 1955, a major anthological exhibition of his work was staged in Italy in 1965 at the Galleria d'Arte moderna in Turin.