Constance Stokes is a vital figure in Australian Modernism. A leading artist of her generation, she came of artistic age as part of George Bell’s Circle. In the early 1950s, she was one of only two female artists included in a major exhibition that travelled to Canada, the United Kingdom and Italy. Her peers were Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Russell Drysdale.
Stokes’s early career is characterised by two competing forces: the social expectation to be just a mother and wife, and her desire to make art. In 1962 however, the unexpected death of her husband opened up space for her practice to resume. An artist who began traditional, soon produced some of Australian Modernism’s boldest imagery.
Works like ‘Untitled (Reclining Nude)’ testify to Stokes’s singularity. Describing drawing as her “great love”, she reflected it was a force “so strongly in me that I don’t think I’ll ever disregard it”. Elegant, sumptuous and minimal, this work is a dance of talent; the kind of effortless composition that only the most talented can produce.
As time proceeded, recognition of Stokes faded while her male peers were emblazoned. Recently however, has been redressed: in 2006, she was immortalised in Anne Summers’s book ‘The Lost Mother’. In 1994, she was the subject of a retrospective at the National Gallery of Victoria and in 2017, was again honoured at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery. Choosing to describe herself as an ‘artist’ rather than a ‘female artist’, Stokes’s vision is compelling, gender aside.
She deserves her space in the story of Australian Modernism. For collectors of Modernism, those invested in social issues and all who admire a delicate nude, ‘Untitled (Reclining Nude)’ is a spellbinding find.
Constance STOKES (1906 - 1991)
'Untitled (Reclining Nude) ' 1970
ink on paper
Image Size: 27 x 38 cm
Dimensions: 64 x 70 x 4 cm
Signed: signed and dated upper right
Comes with Letter of Provenance
Availability: in stock
Condition:Very Good: Describes a work of art’s image As New, but may show some small signs of surrounding wear. There are no tears to paper margin or disruption to paint surface. Image is in Fine condition.
© The Artist or Assignee