CLAUDE FLIGHT (British / 1881-1955)

Born in 1881, Walter Claude Flight was the most influential figure in the development of the colour linocut as a key element of the Modernist aesthetic. Influenced by the Futurists, Flight embraced the linocut as a truly democratic art form, and one that was capable of expressing the power, energy, and expressive movement of the Machine Age. Flight was a cousin of the writer Rudyard Kipling. He had tried various careers - including engineering and beekeeping - before he entered Heatherley's School of Fine Art in 1913. Although his time at Heatherley's was cut short by the outbreak of WWI, the relationships he forged there were crucial to the development of Flight's art. One notable fellow-student was C. R. W. Nevinson, who introducted Flight to the work of the Futurists. Flight married a fellow-student, Clare James, in 1915. This marriage produced two daughters, but did not last. From 1922 until his death, his companion was a fellow linocut artist, and textile designer, Edith Lawrence (British, 1890-1973). Flight and Lawrence shared an exhbiition of textiles and linocuts at the Redfern Gallery in 1928. All of our linocuts by Claude Flight are in fact joint productions with Edith Lawrence, and there is no way of knowing which hand cut which line; this method of joint creation was also employed by two other notable linocut artists of the Grosvenor School, Sybil Andrews and Cyril Power, working as Andrew-Power. The "Grosvenor School" artists are named after the Grosvenor School of Modern Art, where Claude Flight taught linocutting from 1926-1930. Among his pupils were Cyril Power, Sybil Andrews, Lill Tschudi, Ethel Spowers, Dorrit Black, and Eveline Symes. In the 1930s Flight continued to teach informally in summer classes at his neolithic chalk cave at Chantemesle on the banks of the Seine, which he had bought while serving in France in WWI. Claude Flight is now seen as a pioneering Modernist, and it is ironic to note that he was expelled from the Seven and Five Society (of which he was a founder member in 1923 with Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and others) because of Nicholson's rigorous insistence on abstraction as the only way forward for art. Claude Flight and Edith Lawrence moved to a cottage in Donhead St Andrew in Wiltshire to escape the Blitz in WWII. While they survived, their London studio and their linoleum blocks did not, being destroyed by bombing in 1941. After suffering a stroke in 1947, Claude Flight had to stop creating art. He died in 1955. See: Coppel, Linocuts of the Machine Age; Ackley, British Prints of the Machine Age; Samuel & Penny, The Cutting Edge of Modernity; Carey & Griffith, Avant-Garde British Printmaking.

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Selected prints by CLAUDE FLIGHT

Bringing in the Yule Log, 1936
The Christening, 1936
French Picnic, 1936

View all available prints by CLAUDE FLIGHT