Critic's Notebook: Last call for the paintings of Winston Churchill
The great political figure's paintings are at Atlanta's Millennium Gate
- “You have a medium at your disposal which offers real power, if you only can find out how to use it," wrote Winston Churchill about painting in 1921. A temporary exhibition in Atlanta exhibits Churchill's work, some of which is being shown for the first time.
This is your last week to see the paintings of Winston Churchill in Atlanta, an interesting exhibition many art and history buffs in town may not have even known about because it's in a somewhat unusual place. I also imagine many may not have even known that Churchill painted.
But Churchill was a painter. He called it a "hobby" and a "distraction," though he obviously approached the pastime with seriousness, concentration, and dedication across many years. Churchill first turned to painting in 1915 after resigning in shame as first lord of the Admiralty after a disastrous military operation during World War I. Over his career, he befriended many of the great English artists of the day, and he wrote a book about painting in 1921. Most tellingly, he stuck with the hobby during very dark political times — his own, his country's, and Europe's — creating about 500 paintings in his lifetime.
The small exhbition of about 30 works is especially fascinating for the way it traces the links between Churchill’s political life and his hobby. Many of the paintings look like the work of a stressed out politician using painting as a way to cope (read: not so hot) but several are truly accomplished and lovely, and all are worth seeing for the way they give insight into the inner life of a celebrated historical figure. Several artifacts and a video help connect Churchill to Georgia, where he and Franklin D. Roosevelt visited and viewed American soldiers from Fort Benning during World War II.
Winston Churchill's paintings are being exhibited in Atlanta at the bottom of the Millennium Gate in Atlantic Station. The exhibition The Art of Diplomacy: Winston Churchill and the Art of Painting runs through Feb. 1.