Exhibition catalogue by James Russell to accompany the new exhibition he has curated for Hastings Contemporary, Seaside Modern: Art and Life on the Beach.
This exhibition will be on display at Hastings Contemporary from 27 May - 31 October 2021.
In the first half of the 20th century many of Britain's most exciting and accomplished artists turned for inspiration to the beach. As we emerge from the shadow of Covid-19, Seaside Modern: Art and Life on the Beach celebrates the achievements of painters, sculptors, photographers and printmakers - not to mention the designers whose sun-drenched posters lured holiday makers to the sea.
The end of World War One heralded a new age of leisure, and brought new freedoms. Having been segregated during the 19th century, women and men could now enjoy the beach together. A sun tan became the height of fashion and a sign of good health. By the end of the 1930s everyone was was entitled to a precious week's paid holiday.
Through artworks, ephemera and photographs Seaside Modern explores this fascinating period in British social history, one in which artists themselves were fully immersed. think of Barbara Hepworth holidaying by the sea with Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson, or Paul Nash exploring the Dorset beaches with Eileen Agar. For these artists, the beach itself was a source of inspiration. Others, meanwhile, focused on the day-trippers enjoying their hour in the sun - a pleasure we perhaps took for grated before Covid. Now, after everything we've been through, a day on the beach among friends and family feels both reassuringly normal and a fantastic treat.