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Design Review: Volume 3, Issue 2 (September-October 1950)

Three Drawings by T. A. McCormack

page 44

Three Drawings by T. A. McCormack

Drawing of bust of head by T. A. McCormack.

The Head, above, reproduces least well: there is a delicacy about the line and the faint blue wash of the original, a quality of ‘floatingness’ which is inevitably lost through mechanical process on coated paper; but the experiment is so unusual with McCormack that the further experiment of reproduction is justified.

page 45

Mr. McCormack is so able a painter that any experiment he makes is worth paying attention to: for even if his casual bits and pieces are not final works of art they can give considerable insight into his methods of handling his material and (as it were) his processes of thought. The three ink drawings reproduced (facsimile size) in this issue are examples of a large number which he did some eight or nine years ago; and they are essentially McCormack. Two are on fragments of newsprint — the classical head and the vase of flowers; the third, Sea and Rocks, is on a sheet torn out of an ordinary writing pad. The reproductions therefore lose some of the quality of texture given by the impact of the ink on the paper, but they carry a good idea of McCormack's economy of method and his instinct for the effective placing of line and wash.

Drawing of sea and rocks by T. A. McCormack.

Sea and Rocks, on the opposite page, comes out better, and there we have a sort of rapid monochrome distillation of all McCormack's studies in the open of objects which he has so often invested with his own particular poetry of light and colour. But here he has got down rather to essential movement and I imagine that in this sketch, after preliminary thought, his brush moved somewhat with the speed of his breaking wave.

page 46
Drawing of flowerpiece by T. A. McCormack.

With The Flowerpiece we have stillness, though stillness with, in the original, almost sparkle. It is in the tradition of those still lifes, never reduced to a formula, in which McCormack has produced an astonishing and subtle network of colour; and if you look at this for a while you get almost the illusion of colour, so skilful is the balance, the interaction, of black and white. The drawing might be a preliminary study for something larger, but I do not think it is. It stands on its own, self-sufficiently and very firmly. Full as it is of brushwork, I do not think anything has been wasted; the blobs, squiggles and crosses sink into a quite coherent and satisfying pattern. No one could wish to exclude this little picture from the canon of McCormack's work.—J.C.B.