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Artist and pioneering art educator Maurice de Sausmarez celebrated at University of Leeds

Maurice de Sausmarez, Farm on the Road to Montaione, 1965, oil on canvas 61 x 142.5 cm (de Sausmarez Family Collection)

Art Exhibition: 'Maurice de Sausmarez 1915-1969: A Centenary Exhibition'

21 October 2015 - 20 February 2016


This centenary exhibition is a visual exploration of the work of pioneering educator and influential artist Maurice de Sausmarez (1915-69). The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery will host a retrospective exhibition of paintings and drawings by Maurice de Sausmarez, together with archival material, which will open on Tuesday 20 October 2015. A new book of de Sausmarez's writings will also be launched. 

'Maurice de Sausmarez 1915-1969: A Centenary Exhibition' will be open Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm. Admission is FREE, and the exhibition runs until Saturday 20 February 2016.

Maurice de Sausmarez, Whitelocks, c.1954-5, oil on canvas 89.1 x 119.8 cm (University of Leeds Art Collection)

Due to his early death, de Sausmarez has been significantly overlooked in the histories of British modernism. Yet his role as the progressive Head of Department of Fine Art at the University of Leeds (1950s) and subsequently Head of Department of Fine Art at Hornsey College of Art, London (1959-62) then Principal at Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting, London (1962-69) helped shape the work and careers of many artists and designers whose names are well-known today.

Alongside Harry Thubron and others, de Sausmarez was instrumental in the development of Basic Design training in British art schools, as his seminal book Basic Design: The Dynamics of Visual Form (1964) bears testament. At the same time, he remained committed to painting in a career that spanned almost three decades.

As a painter, his work was exhibited from the 1930s onwards with the Artists’ International Association, the London Group and the New English Art Club. The Royal Academy accepted his work for the first time in 1947, and he was elected as an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1964. Thereafter he continued to exhibit annually, and regularly served on the RA’s selection committees. A re-examination of de Sausmarez’s life and work is long overdue and this exhibition and associated publications will make a pertinent contribution to the current rekindling of interest in art schools and art education in the mid-20th century, as well as to the on-going discourse concerning the creative arts in modern society.

Maurice de Sausmarez, Faceted Still Life, 1961/2, oil on canvas 76 x 51 cm (de Sausmarez Family Collection)



Book: On Artists and their Making: Selected Writings of Maurice de Sausmarez

Through his teaching and writing, de Sausmarez was a passionate advocate for the beneficial role of art in society and the duty of education to foster individual creativity at every stage of growth.

A collection of de Sausmarez’s writings, both published and previously unseen, on the role of art in society, the work of various artists and art education, will be launched at the opening of this centenary exhibition.

* Hilary Diaper (ed.), On Artists and their Making: Selected Writings of Maurice de Sausmarez, London: Unicorn Press, 2015. Includes contributions by Hilary Diaper, James Dyson, Peter Kennard and Beth Williamson *



A centenary project

The exhibition’s guest curator, Dr. Hilary Diaper, has worked closely with the artist’s estate to provide a unique insight into his life and work. Drawing from both the de Sausmarez family and the University's own collections and including loans from other institutions and private collections, the exhibition includes many of de Sausmarez's paintings, drawings and prints from all stages of his career, together with displays of archival material including photographs, manuscripts and notes.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, and includes a new essay by critic Richard Cork.

The exhibition catalogue is kindly supported by the Leeds Art Fund.



Maurice de Sausmarez, Self portrait drawing, pencil on paper 29 x 21.5 (de Sausmarez Family Collection)