Maurice de Sausmarez (1915-69) was responsible practically single-handedly for setting up the Fine Art Degree course at the University of Leeds and, as well as being a prolific visual artist and writer, saw art education as a means to release individual creative potential. His own work continues the tradition of Poussin and Cezanne and includes as its subject the human figure, still life and landscape.
His roster of influential students included Bridget Riley who saw him as a mentor though her optical experiments are a long way from Sausmarez’ style. It is this radical eclecticism and cultural diversity he saw as so important in the art world, with both Cubist and Futurist movements amongst what he considered as modernist masterpieces.
Always a generous man he gave encouragement to his successor at the University of Leeds, Quinten Bell. His self-portraits reveal an intense thoughtfulness while his landscapes inspired by the French landscape are made up of an evocative colourism. It is particularly noteworthy here in Leeds to see his studies in sketch form, then colour study to final painting all on one wall.
The exhibition comes with a beautifully illustrated catalogue with essays by art historian Richard Cork and Leeds’ own Dr Hilary Diaper which further place the artist in both the local and international scene. This is a superb opportunity to assess the wide scope and breadth of an artist whose life and work has meant so much to so many.
At Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds until 20 February 2016. For more info: https://library.leeds.ac.uk/art-gallery-exhibitions