Sunday, 7 July 2013

1964 - Man Standing on Steps

Man Standing on Steps 1964
Oil on Canvas
50.8 x 40.6 cm. (20 x 16 in.)
Sold [November 2009] for £162,000 including premium
Signed and Dated 'L.S. LOWRY 1964' (lower left)

With The Lefevre Gallery, London
With Henry Donn, Manchester, where purchased by the present owner's father, 26 February 1980
Thence by descent

M. Leber and J. Sandling, L.S. Lowry, Oxford, 1987, p.53 (ill.b&w)
'Unlike his industrial figures, they are not set in a specifically urban framework; the world they inhabit is nebulous, uncertain and empty, as mysterious and ambiguous as they are themselves'
(Michael Howard, Lowry, A Visionary Artist, Lowry Press, Salford Quays, 2000, p.195)

The present work, and other figurative examples like it, embody the simple message that Michael Howard has described as at the heart of Lowry's work and at the centre of much of modern culture itself. This being that 'we all have our own private world inside us. We think we understand each other but we never do, no real communication is ever possible' (Michael Howard, Lowry, A Visionary Artist, Lowry Press, Salford Quays, 2000, p.199). 

Although Lowry's single-figures were received with caution at the time by a general public who were endeared to his images of the industrial north, they were welcomed by the likes of serious Manchester businessman and collector Monty Bloom who embraced their psychological qualities. Lowry himself was pleased with his transition and stated, 'I think this is my best period..I think I am saying more, going deeper into life than I did' (L S Lowry in Mister Lowry, directed by Robert Tyrrell, Tyne Tees Television, 1968).

The present work is similar in composition to Man in an Archway (1965), where the subject strikes a similar, almost floating pose and the viewpoint is low-angled as if he were being seen by a child. The use of steps within Lowry's work is a common theme, the artist declaring himself that 'I liked doing steps' and giving the simple title of The Steps to an important oil painting of 1940 (Andrew Lambirth, LS Lowry Conversation Pieces, Chaucer Press, London, 2003, p.74)

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