Ode to the North Wind

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Born Denholm, Roxburghshire, 1897-1981

Ode to the North Wind, circa1929-31

Oil on canvas
Purchased 1971 from the Artist with 50% NFA grant
Museum number 3-1971

This is one of Johnstone’s most important paintings. It is an extremely progressive, almost abstract painting and marks Johnstone out, along with William McCance, as one of the most advanced Scottish painters of the inter-war years. It reveals Johnstone’s awareness of contemporary developments in art, with which he became familiar at first hand in Paris, combined with research into his national heritage, including Celtic and Pictish art, as he strove to create a new and uniquely Scottish art.

Ode to the North Wind is closely related to Johnstone’s other celebrated metamorphic landscapes of the late 1920s and early 1930s, including his masterpiece 'A Point in Time', c.1929-37, now in the collection of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. It has been argued that the work explores Johnstone’s understanding of man’s ancient relationship with landscape and of landscape as the site of collective memory and therefore as a source of identity.

Ode to the North Wind
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