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An abstract England

From Constable's Cornfield at the National Gallery to Abstract Art in the Twentieth Century at New York's Guggenheim, Norbert Lynton considers English views of art

By Norbert Lynton   April 1996

If the French, being an intellectual people, have a certain idea of France, the English have a picture-a picture from which much of the ugliness and squalor of modernity has been eliminated.”

My text comes from the Trevor Phillips/Peregrine Worsthorne debate in Prospect (March) about Englishness and the problems and benefits brought to it by non-Englishers in the woodpile. Phillips thought Worsthorne was being “slippery in suggesting that Englishness rests in some indefinable romantic picture.” It so happens that the National Gallery’s At Home with Constable’s Cornfield exhibition (until 21st April) pre-empts the discussion, suggesting Worsthorne is right and providing…

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