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01 October 2019Enigmatic Art: Famous paintings that keep us guessing
08 November 2019East Surrey Area Special Interest morning - Sir Stamford Raffles - Art Collector & Discoverer of Singapore

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Enigmatic Art: Famous paintings that keep us guessing James Russell Tuesday 01 October 2019

 Having studied History at Pembroke College, Cambridge, James Russell enjoyed a lengthy stint selling contemporary paintings and sculpture in Santa Fe, New Mexico, an experience that inspired him to begin writing and lecturing on 20th century art. Of his dozen or so books, one was a Sunday Times book of the year, while his writing has been described by critics as 'insightful', 'informative' and 'enjoyably readable'. The curator of two major exhibitions at Dulwich Picture Gallery, James has lectured across Britain and beyond. He prefers to lecture without notes, drawing on wide-ranging original research, and on in-depth knowledge of the subjects that fascinate him. 


From Leonardo’s Mona Lisa to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, we love paintings with an element of mystery. Scholars have been puzzling over pictures like Giorgione’s Tempest for centuries, but more recently artists have deliberately created realistic paintings in which the mood or meaning is far from clear. Along with the paintings already mentioned, this wide-ranging international survey includes pictures by Poussin and Vermeer, Manet and Gauguin, Hammershoi and de Chirico, Andrew Wyeth and Eric Ravilious, Gwen John and Balthus – the French artist who liked, incidentally, to describe himself as “a painter about whom nothing is known”. Why do some paintings have these enigmatic qualities? Are there particular techniques that artists use to achieve them? And what do these paintings tell us about our world – and ourselves?


The day consists of 3 lectures, with coffee and biscuits served between the first and second. The third lecture follows a light lunch served between 1 and 2pm, this to include a glass of wine or soft drink.

Venue - Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall

Doors Open - 10.00am for a 10.30 start

Event ends - circa 3.00pm

Cost - £28 per person

Tickets available - at either our regular July and September meetings or from Roger Steel on 01372 272083