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BOOK

REVIEW

Patrick Caulfield By Marco Livingstone.Lund Humphries, 2005.288pp. £35

This book was apparently the initiative of Colin St John Wilson, a long-time supporter of Patrick Caulfield and collector of his work. Caulfield once described himself as 'a frustrated architect' and some of his early paintings, dating from the 1960s, take buildings as their subject - an early Modern house (Concrete Villa, Brunn), an English parish church. But what he has painted primarily are interiors, with a sharp eye for the detail that sums up a fashion or a style.

From the beginning Caulfield has been a skilled editor of a scene, isolating its key components and then painting them quite differently, treating some with minute attention - a photorealist precision - and others in a more cursory, schematic way.

So this is 'painting about painting' but also painting about perception - about our selective filtering of the visual world. Light - its sources and the patterns it makes in a room - is a key structuring device, while areas of intense monochrome colour give the paintings, big or small, an immediate impact.

The reproductions in the book are mostly high quality, and author Marco Livingstone has clearly thought a lot about Caulfield's work and what he calls its 'eerie stillness'.

At the very least these paintings are elegant précises of the 'world of interiors', but some people will find more in them than just Caulfield's way of looking, stimulating though they are for that.

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