Oil on canvas1952
About the work
This cool and dispassionate painting by William Brooker evokes the atmosphere of a grey and soulless day while giving the viewer minimal information about any wider context for the scene; what the figure in white might be looking at, for example. As Nicholas Wadley points out in his introduction to 'William Brooker Retrospective', the catalogue of the artist’s 1987 exhibition, a narrative is often suggested in Brooker’s paintings, yet often only partially developed. In the work featured here, he concentrates on the linear interplay – the verticals and horizontal plains in the bridge structure. Brooker used squared-up drawings and sometimes photographs to map out his exact compositions, which were often low in tone and rich in paint.
Brooker divided his professional life between teaching in art colleges and working in the studio. He was influenced by other British painters, including Ruskin Spear, his teacher at Chelsea, as well as by Augustus John and Walter Sickert. In the 1940s and 1950s Brooker, along with many of the other British post-war artists painted mainly interiors, nudes and urban landscapes. In the 1950s and 1960s the style of his work moved towards less defined subject matter in his paintings. This shift occurred after he had met Cornish painters such as Terry Frost, Roger Hilton and Peter Lanyon. From 1959, the still life became his obsessive motif, mainly painted using a cool blue–grey palette. The austerity, stillness and precision that these still lives share with earlier works like ‘Albert Bridge’, suggest an emptiness and isolation that seems to speak metaphorically about life and loss.
About the artist
William Brooker was born in Croydon and studied at Croydon School of Art from 1936 to 1939. He served in the Royal Artillery in north-west Europe during the Second World War, returning to London in 1946 to study at Chelsea School of Art, and then an art education course at Goldsmiths College of Art in 1948. From 1949 to 1953 he taught at Bath Academy of Art where he was a friend and colleague of Terry Frost, Peter Lanyon and William Scott. He exhibited regularly, including at the Arthur Tooth and Sons, Leicester Galleries, the London Group and the Royal Academy. In the 1960s Brooker was a Senior Lecturer in Painting first at Ealing School of Art (1960–1965) and then at Central School of Art and Design (1965–1969). From 1969-1981 Brooker became Principal of Wimbledon School of Art and served on numerous art education committees. His work is represented in many public collections around the UK, including Tate and Arts Council Collection.
- Albert Bridge
- Oil on canvas
- height: 76.50 cm, width: 63.80 cm
- Purchased from Leicester Galleries, September 1952
- lr: Brooker '52
- Consigned by the artist to Leicester Galleries, London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in September 1952
- GAC number