Figurative painting is due a reappraisal. In this passionately argued volume the distinguished writer and artist Timothy Hyman cuts a new path through the tangle of twentieth century art. The World New Made explores the work of more than fifty individual painters, presenting a collective ‘Resistance’ who together offer a human-centred alternative to the dominance of the Abstract or the Conceptual in conventional narratives of modern art. Structured not as a survey but as in-depth studies of more than 130 specific artworks, this lavishly illustrated book brings these often-marginalized artists centre-stage: not just Alice Neel and Balthus, Max Beckmann and Frida Kahlo, but also Marsden Hartley and Charlotte Salomon, Bhupen Khakhar and Jacob Lawrence. A rich cast is brought to life, partly through their own writings. As the author argues, ‘All across the world, isolated artists found new idioms for human-centred painting in the midst of modern life.’ Starting out from the ‘reinvention of representation’ that followed Cubism (with artists that include Léger, Chagall and Carrà), The World New Made guides the reader through the ‘New Thingness’ [Neue Sachlichkeit], where individuals as various as Dix, Grosz and Burra rejected Expressionist histrionics. A new emphasis on the artist as protagonist emerges in painters ranging from Pierre Bonnard to Stanley Spencer, while visionaries and ‘Outsiders’ (such as Rabindranath Tagore, Ken Kiff and Henry Darger) present new challenges. In the aftermath of Abstract Expressionism, in the work of artists from R. B. Kitaj to Leon Golub and William Kentridge, a new ‘history painting’ is glimpsed. This powerful new book, distilled from many decades of looking, painting and writing, assembles the free spirits who offer a counter-argument to Western formalism and a foundation for the figurative painters of the twenty-first century. With 158 illustrations.
'It's time that the balance (between abstraction and figurative work) was redressed, and Timothy Hyman's scholarly and enjoyable book sets about the task with great vigour. The quality of the writing makes the reader want to look again and more closely at the artists discussed.'
Timothy Hyman is an art critic and historian, as well as a painter. His articles have appeared in the London Magazine and TLS.