Into the Deep

JOHN ARMSTRONG ARA (1893-1973) Biography
SURREALISM (founded c.1924) Biography

Into the Deep (United Kingdom, 1933)

Tempera on panel


53.20cm high
73.00cm wide
(20.94 inches high)
(28.74 inches wide)
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Mrs. John Armstrong
The Mayor Gallery, 1986


Herbert Read, Unit 1, The Modern Movement in English Architecture, Painting and Sculpture, Cassell and Company, London 1934, illustrated page 45, plate XVIII
Leeds, Leeds City Art Gallery exhibition catalogue, Surrealism in Britain in the Thirties, 1986, catalogue number 93, illustrated page 140
Retretti Art Center exhibition catalogue, Surrealism, 1987, page 138

Exhibition History

London, Unit 1, 1934
Portsmouth, Portsmouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Unit 1, May - July 1978, number (J.A.2)
London, Mayor Gallery, British Surrealism Fifty On, March 1986, number 12, illustrated page 31
Leeds, Leeds City Art Galleries, Surrealism in Britain in the Thirties, October-December 1986, catalogue number 93, illustrated page 140
Finland, Retretti Art Centre, Surrealism, May -September 1987
Chichester, The Tudor Room, The Bishop's Palace, Sea, Sail and Shore, Festival Exhibition, June-uly 1991, number 22
Aldeburgh Festival Exhibition, Peter Pears Gallery, 9 -24 June 2006, catalogue number 5

Description / Expertise

Into the Deep foreshadows John Armstrong's paintings of the 1950's in which he began to explore the conflict between pattern and tactile form (the way in which volumes are described in space). For Armstrong, to whom natural objects should only be seen in their form and relationship in colour and design freed from their sentimental associations, the advance towards abstract art was inevitable.

The material qualities which attract me to particular objects are those of convexity, concavity and flatness…the representation of objects seen or imagined is necessary to me not for the objects themselves but for certain of their material qualities or their power of emotional suggestion.

The tempera surface of Into the Deep cannot be pinpointed in space. He appears, at this stage, not to have been greatly interested in the difference between abstract and figurative painting
. (1)

1. Quoted by Annette Armstong in her introduction to the 1989 Exhibition Catalogue, 1893 John Armstrong 1973, Ewan Mundy & Celia Philo, page 3