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Beryl Cook fans unhappy at Tate policy

the dance class

The Dance Class by Beryl Cook

Beryl Cook‘s friends and supporters claim that she has been “blackballed” by the modern art establishment and are demanding that one of the Tate’s four galleries finally buys one of her pictures to mark her 80th birthday last week.
In what they claim is a scandalous oversight, they say Beryl Cook , a former bed and breakfast landlady in Plymouth, has become one of Britain’s best-loved artists. The Tate’s continuing refusal to recognise her is a result of snobbery and an unhealthy obsession with conceptualism and minimalism, they claim.
Julian Spalding in the catalogue to a new West End exhibition of Cook’s latest pictures , accuses the Tate and its director, Sir Nicholas Serota, of running a cosy arts cartel that turns up its nose at Cook’s jolly ladies because they are popular and are reproduced on postcards.

The Tate has spent £22,300 on a can of x?!x by Piero Manzoni yet has never bought a painting by Cook. She’s old, she’s ill, give her a break, they say. In pulling her into the same linguistic sphere as a clever 1960s Italian artist they have however done her no favours. Beryl Cook just looks stupid when you compare her with Manzoni. Guardian comment is free article Telegraph article

Beryl Cook is one of Britain’s most talented and amusing artists .Beryl’s pictures feature women of all shapes and sizes enjoying themselves .Beryl Cook left Kendrick School in Reading at the age of 15 . She eventually married her next door neighbour from Reading, John Cook.
Beryl Cook’s husband bought her a child’s painting set for her birthday and it was with this that she produced her first significant work, a half-length portrait of a dark-skinned lady with a vacant expression and large drooping breasts. It was aptly named ‘Hangover’ by Beryl’s husband and still hangs in their house today.In 1964 Beryl Cook and her husband returned to the UK . Beryl ran a boarding house for holidaymakers on the seafront. Her paintings came to the attention of Bernard Samuels at the Plymouth Arts Centre who persuaded her to mount her first exhibition featuring 75 paintings. It was a sell out. The rest, as they say, is history.

Exhibitions at the Whitechapel and Portal Galleries in London followed . Her first book ‘The Works’ was published in 1978. Her paintings were then reproduced as greeting cards and limited edition prints and soon her work was being featured around the world, tickling ribs from Kingston to the Cape, and generating considerable popular acclaim.

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