1926 - 2008
Header Picture: Women Running, Silk screen print
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Known as: One of the UK's best-loved painters
Born: 10 September 1926, Epsom, Surrey, England
Died: 28 May 2008 (aged 81), Plymouth, England
Recommended Reading: The World of Beryl Cook
Beryl Cook was born on 10 September 1926 in Egham, Surrey, one of four sisters. An OBE, she became one of the most popular English painters of the last thirty years or so. Thus it's a safe bet to assume that to those in the British public who have but a fleeting interest in art would recognise her big boisterous characters like an old friend even if they didn't know the artist.
Such popularity came at a price. Inexplicably, the art critics turned their snobby noses up at her work. No matter, for Cook was one of those artists whose work transcended such small mindedness and really didn't need their affirmation. Her prints, calenders, posters, cards sold like wildfire, and her paintings, well, they command prices of up to £40,000 which the characters in her paintings would no doubt agress was a lorry load of cash.
Perhaps the critics didn't like the fact that there was only love in her pictures. Nothing sinister, no darker meaning. Pretensions forgotten. Cook loved her characters and no matter how big they were there wasn't even a hint of malice in her portrayal of them. They are happy pictures and they make people happy.
And in these dark days that is welcome
She had no formal art training other than the experiences of life which, I think, is the very strength of her work. That and her love of her subjects which are usually fat people; more accurately put she is celebrated for a kind of populist genre painting of ordinary, unassuming folk without pretensions and their typical activities, with a playful streak of vulgarity and naughtiness. But there is never a hint of nastiness in her work.
At twenty, she married her childhood sweetheart John, in 1948. They were together for sixty years until her death. They became grandparents and their family includedone dog and several cats.
They lived quietly in Plymouth and Bristol, England.
It was the famous Portal Gallery in London who recognised her talent in the 1970s and held regulars exhibitions of her work.
To Tate Modern's eternal shame they still haven't acquired even one of her works. Unbelievable! You do wonder just what is the point of it if it does not reflect what people actually, er, like.
© Paul Page, leninimports.com
Beryl Cook Fine Art Prints ~ amazon.co.uk store (direct link)
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