Patrick Caulfield was one of those rare breed of artists who didn’t turn up many paintings, working very meticulously and slowly, but those which he did eventually showcase have been admired and acclaimed universally. Part of Caulfield’s reluctance to paint so much was because he didn’t want to fit into any particular art movement at all – he disliked all of them. Instead he opted to work on his own terms and the way he wanted to rather than being defined as being a follower of any art movement. Averaging just four paintings a year, Caulfield was also very shy, reserved and not quite media friendly, a class apart from other artists who embraced fame wholeheartedly. Today his paintings are bought by art collectors, galleries and museums worldwide. From Charles Saatchi to David Bower, many have purchased his art and his admiration continues to grow.
Patrick Joseph Caulfield was born in 1936 in Acton, London into a working class family. After World War II, his family moved to London where a teenaged Caulfield took up an official clerk position and then worked in the design department of Crosse and Blackwell. Caulfield enrolled in evening class at the Harrow School of Art where he was inspired by artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. After winning two small scale painting competitions Caulfield used the prize money to travel to Greece to study Corinthian art. Whilst taking postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Art, Caulfield’s talent was identified, along his batch mates which included David Hockney, Allen Jones and Derek Boshier, as one of the best up and coming ‘Pop’ artists – a term Caulfield loathed and tried to distance himself from. Caulfield soon establish his own trademark style of painting which included thick black outlines encompassing bright blocks of dull colors. Little did Caulfield know his distinct style would go on to inspire future greats like Julian Opie and Michael Craig-Martin. There was a strong element of photorealism associated with Caulfield’s work; in his complex graphical outlines meshed in dull colors Caulfield added another dimension of complexity which left the viewer spell bound. Due to his reserved manner and lack of interest in embracing the fame and media savvy aspect of art much of Caulfield’s work never saw the light of the day during his living years. It took many exhibitions to showcase a lot of his masterpieces which were displayed after the artist’s death. For many art lovers today, Caulfield was a pure painter’s painter, a genius artist whose paintings exhibited great depths and this was someone who truly understood art and its essence very deeply. This is one of the core reasons why even today Caulfield’s work resonates on a grand scale. Caulfield dabbled in other materials apart from paintings; there were also some screen prints which he worked along with tapestries, glass windows for museums, restaurants, hotels and galleries and even posters, book covers and ceramics.
Due to his artistic achievements Patrick Caulfield became a Royal Academian and a fellow of the RCA. Other accolades included winning the Jerwood Prize, nomination for the Turner Prize and being appointed CBE by the Queen. Caulfield was always that artist who was forging his own identity in amidst a sea of modern artists.