Max Chapman 1911-1999
Born in Dulwich in 1911 and educated at Dulwich College, Max Chapman went on to study at the Byam Shaw Art School under the guidance of Ernest Jackson, Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon. In 1930, he was awarded a travelling scholarship to Italy, but was said to have felt overwhelmed by the number of artistic influences that he confronted there. It was at the point of his return that Chapman decided to turn his attention to formalism, a conceptual movement that would become integral to his artistic career. Inspired by the writings of Roger Fry and Clive Bell, Chapman shifted his focus to the sensuous nature of pure pictorial impulse. Concentrating on the primacy of formal qualities, Chapman began an experimental exploration of the limits of painting itself.
During the 1950s, Chapman discovered with the notion of ‘automation’, observing the way American artists such as Jackson Pollock and John Coplan aimed to remove the trace of the artist’s hand in their work. Chapman experimented with several different techniques, including a process which involved printing oil paint onto glass, and the use of monotypes. He also drew on the process of ‘papier colle’ (paper collage) to create a new method entitled ‘collage noye’. Rather than constructing a collage that retained the separateness of its components, Chapman employed a layering process – an underlying structure was moulded onto a low relief and was later subjected to a varied pigmentation.
Chapman’s sustained approach to his artistic development has resulted in work which both challenges the visual and creates tension in its bold and fluid movement. His works appear monumental, moving simultaneously between provocative impressiveness and conscious sensitivity.
Max ChapmanCompositionpainted circa 1962oil and emulsion on canvas
122 x 91.5 cms (48 x 36 ins)
framed: 130 x 99 cms (51 x 39 ins)
Max ChapmanDark Orbsigned label versooil on board painted circa 196481 x 91 cms (32 x 36 ins)
framed: 87 x 97 cms (34½ x 38½ ins)
Max ChapmanEmersionsigned and dated 1964oil and emulsion on canvas107 x 96.5 cms (42 x 38 ins)
framed: 112 x 102 cms (44 x 40 ins)