What Were Artists Working On In 1984?

by Cass Art

John Doubleday, Dylan Thomas (Pictured Above)

Visionary author George Orwell didn't always get it right: 1984, far from being a dystopian world in which creativity was crushed under the jackboot of uniformity, actually transpired to be a year of significant art-making.

In light of Cass Art's 30th Anniversary, we have singled out some of the memorable artworks from the year 1984. It's their birthday too, after all, so let's give them the attention they deserve.

Malcolm Morley's Farewell to Crete

This was the winner of the inaugural Turner Prize 30 years ago. It may come as a surprise, then, to learn that Morley's masterpiece was an oil painting on canvas - quite far from the contraversial unmade beds, animal carcases and switching lights we associate with the prize today. Morley's giant work surreally contrasted Crete's glorious and inglorious past and present, from noble battles to ignoble topless sunbathing. The 203.2 cm x 416.6 cm creation fetched 343,500 dollars (£202,442) at auction in New York in 2003. It had made history, after all.

Frederick Hart's The Three Soldiers

Washington National Mall is home to the Atlanta-born sculptor's striking bronze statue. It was made to complement a memorial for Vietnam veterans. Hart wanted to create a contrast between the weapons of war and the innocence of youth. 

Nabil Kanso's Apocalyptic Riders

The Lebanese artist's began this diptych in 1980 and finished it in 1984, bringing an incongruously Stygian vibrancy to this work. Kanso never shies away from human suffering and brutality, with apocalyptic and war themes continually cropping up in his work. This large-scale oil painting shows two horsemen heading towards one another, among the dark reds, yellows and purples of their battle-strewn background.

John Doubleday's Dylan Thomas statue

Thomas joined Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chaplin and Sir Laurence Olivier as one of Doubleday's many subjects. Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the poet's birth, the figurative sculptor's bronze statue looks out over the marina in Swansea in a contemplative pose.

Felim Egan's Battle of Hercules and Antaeus

The Irish painter depicted the Greek mythology showdown equivalent of the George Foreman v Muhammad Ali fight. Antaeus went into the fight confident and undefeated, but was still no match for the old master. Egan examined the connection between colour, line and form, with haunting figures seeming to float within the canvas. It went under the hammer in London for £4,830 in 1999.

Feeling inspired?

We've arranged lots of things so you can celebrate 1984 and 30 years of Cass Art in style.

Enter our Prize Draw and win £5000 worth of prizes - there are 30 prizes for 30 years, so enter here with a chance to win. 

Get yourself a Limited Edition 30th Anniversary Art in Bag - find out more and read about the history of the Cass Art bags on our blog.

Every weekend throughout June and July there will be a Back To 1984 Prices offer - sign up to our newsletter here to receive the different discounts. 

Shop online
 to stock up on your art materials and take advantage of our 30th Anniversary sale, or shop the sale at all six of our London shops in IslingtonCharing CrossSohoHigh Street KensingtonHampstead and Kingston.

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