1960-63: Chelsea School of Art 1956-60; Royal College of Art
Chelsea School of A
In his early teens Patrick Caulfield worked in the design studio of the food producer Crosse & Blackwell and enrolled for evening classes at Harrow School of Art. He went on to study at the Chelsea School of Art from 1956 to 1960, and at the Royal College of Art from 1960 to 1963, where his fellow pupils included David Hockney and R. B. Kitaj. He returned to Chelsea later as a teacher.
A reticent man, Caulfield remained wary of being identified with any movement but came to be associated with Pop art chiefly through his participation in the New Generation exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, in 1964. His paintings are figurative, often portraying a few simple objects in an interior. Typically, Patrick Caulfield used flat areas of simple colour surrounded by black outlines, some dominated by a single hue.
Whereas in his paintings Patrick Caulfield often works on a grand scale, his prints for the most part do not need to be large, because he is evoking a mood through the depiction of a single object or of a strictly focused domestic scene. Caulfield's career as a printmaker began in 1964 with the print Ruins (selected to represent Britain at the 4th Paris Biennale, this won the unofficial Prix des Jeunes Artistes). He had discovered the perfect graphic medium for his work.
In his earliest prints Caulfield seems intent upon radical simplification of the key themes of his painting at the time, a paring down to essentials, and an isolation of motif that demands of the viewer contemplation without distraction. In each case the baldness of presentation begs the question: what is the meaning of these jugs? Our response may begin in the eye's delight at the brilliance of colour, the magical realisation of space, the immediate readability of image.
In 1964, Patrick Caulfield exhibited at the New Generation show at London's Whitechapel Gallery, which resulted in him being associated with pop art.
In 1987 Patrick Caulfield was nominated for the Turner Prize, he was elected Royal Academician in 1993, and made a CBE in 1996. No Artist of his generation has contemplated the comedy of life with greater intelligence, wit or courage than Patrick Caulfield.