churchills aura and bright colors draw new fans to his art

Churchill’s Aura, and Bright Colors, Draw New Fans to His Art

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Cannadine wrote that Churchill was “at best indifferent, at worst hostile, to modern abstract art” by Chagall and Picasso. He was captivated instead by Manet, Monet, Cézanne and Matisse, whose work, he wrote in his book “Painting as a Pastime,” “is distinct with gaiety, and floats in sparkling air.”

In the 1920s, Churchill sent five paintings to an amateur show in Paris under a pseudonym — Charles Morin — because he didn’t want to capitalize on his name. Four sold for modest prices.

He also used a pseudonym — David Winter — to enter a competition for amateur painters in London in 1926. He won first prize from the judges: Kenneth Clark, who later became director of London’s National Gallery; Oswald Birley, a prominent portrait painter; and Joseph Duveen, the most famous art dealer at the time.

In 1949, Churchill sold Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark Cards, the rights to reproduce five Churchill paintings that were used to illustrate Christmas cards. Hall later arranged a traveling show of 35 Churchill paintings that opened at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Mo., in 1958. Other stops on the exhibition’s tour included the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Smithsonian.

But not all museums welcomed such a show.

According to the website of the International Churchill Society: “The assistant director of the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh declined to exhibit Churchill’s paintings by referring to one of his other ‘hobbies’: ‘I understand that Churchill is a terrific bricklayer, too, but nobody is exhibiting bricks this season.’

Churchill paintings have been displayed in galleries and exhibitions in Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan and the United States, said Merry L. Alberigi, a former director of the International Churchill Society. Three museums — the Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy in London, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts — have Churchill works in their collections.