The Grosvenor School was founded in Pimlico in 1925 and played a key role in Britain’s contribution to modern art. It quickly became a leading force in printmaking, and particularly linocuts. The students, including Sybil Andrews, Cyril Power, Lill Tschudi, William Greengrass and Leonard Beaumont, became renowned for their iconic prints that brought to life the vibe of the inter-war years, writes Michael Holland.
In the Cutting Edge: Modernist British Printmaking exhibition it is not difficult to see the school’s Soviet references to striking images getting a message across quickly, and its affinity with the Art Deco movement. It is not a chronological exhibition, but themed. Each room looks at a different aspect of the British printmakers output: work, sport, urban living, pastoral life, with London and transport taking up two rooms for a grand finale.
Throughout there is a real feeling of motion in the works, whether it be athletes chasing a ball, horses jumping fences, commuters on escalators or tube trains coming into the station there is a vibrancy that elicits extra attention: will he reach that shot? Will they make that jump? Will I ever escape this vortex of vertiginous movement I find myself in?
For me, however, the best part of the Cutting Edge exhibition is its nostalgic reminder of old posters that I remember before glossy became the norm, so my favourite works were by Cyril Power and Sybil Andrews because I am always drawn to that which I can relate to.
The exhibition features original tools, lino blocks and studies showing how the school revolutionised the process which involved layering up vivid inks in order to produce their distinctive and colourful ‘pop’ version of modernism.
Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London, SE21 7AD until 8th September
Times: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm. Admission: £16.50, £8. Phone: 020 8693 5254
Main image: Cyril Power: The Tube Station. 1932