Graham Vivian Sutherland OM (24 August 1903 – 17 February 1980) was an English artist.
Early prints and landscapes
Sutherland’s early prints of pastoral subjects show the influence of Samuel Palmer, largely mediated by the older etcher, F.L. Griggs. He did not begin to paint in earnest until he was in his 30s, following the collapse of the print market in 1930 due to the Great Depression. These pieces are mainly landscapes, which show an affinity with the work of Paul Nash. Sutherland focused on the inherent strangeness of natural forms, and abstracting them, sometimes giving his work a surrealist appearance; in 1936 he exhibited in the International Surrealist Exhibition in London.
He also took up glass design, fabric design and poster design during the 1930s, and taught at a number of London art colleges. In 1934 he first visited Pembrokeshire and was profoundly inspired by its landscape, and the place remained a source for much of the following decade. In 1967 Sutherland returned to Wales and was once again inspired by the landscape regularly working in the region until his death in 1980.
Sutherland converted to Catholicism in December 1926, the year before his marriage to Kathleen Barry, who had been a fellow student at Goldsmith’s College. In 1944, he was commissioned by Walter Hussey (then Vicar of St Matthew’s, Northampton and an important patron of modern religious art) to paint The Crucifixion (1946) for St Matthew’s Church, Northampton.
In the early 1950s, Sutherland was commissioned to design the tapestry for Basil Spence’s new Coventry Cathedral. Christ in Glory took ten years before completion in 1962. Sutherland visited the weavers, Pinton Frères of Felletin, France, on nine occasions.
He also continued to produce work based on natural forms, and managed to blend some of these – such as thorns – into his religious work. Sometimes, as in Head III (1953), these forms, often considered threatening in appearance, have an organic appearance but are entirely invented.