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 Alexander Goudie  (1933 - 2004)

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom/Scotland      Known for: portraits, figure, genre, landscapes, harbor views

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The following information was submitted by Lachlan Goudie:

Alexander Goudie RP. RGI. (1933-2004) is known one as one of Scotland’s premier figurative painters.

Goudie was born in the Renfrewshire town of Paisley in 1933.  He studied at the Glasgow school of Art under William Armour, David Donaldson and Benno Schotz.  For many years he was a tutor at the school, before dedicating himself to his own studio work.

As a portraitist his sitters included Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern, Billy Connolly and a host of other figures drawn from the worlds of politics, commerce and entertainment.  Although he achieved great renown as a portrait painter, Alexander Goudie distinguished himself in a range of other creative spheres. He also spent a short period of his life in Los Angeles, California, whree he painted a series of family portraits.

A life-long association with Brittany resulted from marriage to his Breton wife Marie-Renee.   For over 30 years, summers were spent documenting the changing face of the rural landscape in sketchbooks and paintings, on harboursides and in the fields.  The culmination of these decades of study came in 1989 with the monumental commission to decorate the interior of the Brittany Ferries Flagship, ‘Bretagne’.  Some years later he was chosen to revive the tradition of creative collaboration between artists and the famous ceramic ‘fainceries’ of Quimper.  The resulting series of ceramic sculptures depicting ‘Breton types’, bear testament to a way of life that had all but vanished at the end of the 20th century. 

A Scot first and foremost however, Goudie held a fascination throughout his career with Robert Burns’ great narrative poem, ‘Tam O’Shanter’ and over many years he re-created the poem in paintings.  The final illustrative cycle of over 60 works, completed in 1999, would be purchased in its entirety and now resides on permanent public display at Rozelle House, near Burns’ home in Alloway, Ayrshire. 

Alexander Goudie also found literary inspiration in Oscar Wilde’s play ‘Salome’ and Richard Strauss’ opera of the same name.  When asked to create the décor for a production by Scottish Opera, the artist immersed himself in both the text and the music.  He devised a host of exquisite designs for costumes and sets, which were fated not to appear on stage when the project met financial difficulties.  Undeterred, Goudie transformed his vision into an exhibition of dramatic canvasses which was unveiled at the Edinburgh festival in 1990.

Alexander Goudie died in 2004.  A superb draughtsman and sumptuous colourist, he was an artist who drew inspiration from a broad range of subjects.  In his studio in Glasgow he worked tirelessly, painting portraits of society figures one day and immortalising the labouring Breton peasant the next.  In character he was as theatrical as many of the canvasses to which he put his name.  Possessed of a self-conviction that refused to bow to any of the artistic trends of the day, he saw himself in the tradition of figurative painting which stretched back from the work of his native Glasgow boys, to encompass the influence of Gauguin, Goya, Velazquez and Titian.  He identified with them in his strongly held belief that “the pictures should tell their own story” and that an artist should, above all else, “speak with a clear voice”.

Excerpted from the catalogue essay ‘Goudie at 50’ by Roger Billcliffe

‘Joie de vivre – that’s what I paint’ – and it would be no mean epitaph for a painter who in some circles is as well known for his love of life and the pleasures it presents as for his work as a painter of stylish portraits, bold landscapes and novel still-lives.  This artistic credo signifies a sincere attempt to paint pictures that reflect his own enthusiasm for life, pictures that will please, amuse and intrigue his audience and at the same time enhance their lives.

Tom Honeyman quoted the belief of many of Cadells admirers that he made painting look too easy.  Goudie’s natural skill and painterly manner combined with a certain flamboyance of personality have brought similar indictments.  The bravura of handling, its breadth and fluidity often hide a sometimes lengthy preoccupation with a particular problem.  The results are fresh and immediate but the path to the finished painting may have had many twists…. The fruits of experience are sometimes taken for a lack of depth or concern about traditional values.

Goudie is also deeply concerned about his craft.  He feels that his pictures should please not simply puzzle and that pleasures can be achieved without playing to the gallery.  He says that he has been called ‘an old fashioned painter’- he chooses, rightly I think, to treat it as a compliment – perhaps the finest compliment he could be paid.

Chronology:
1933  Born Paisley, Scotland, November 11th
1950-1955  Studied Drawing, Painting and Sculpture Glasgow School of Art.
Awards: Somerville Shanks Prize for Composition; Newbery Medal for Distinction; Post-graduate Scholarship; Keith Award – Royal Scottish Academy
1953  First visit to Paris
1956  Elected Member of Glasgow Art Club                   
1957  Painting trip to Toledo and Madrid
1958  Tour of France; visiting Rouen, Royan, Bordeaux, Bayonne, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Saint-Lizier, Nimes, Arles, Avignon, Annecy, Reims.
1959  First visit to Brittany
1962  Marries Marie-Renee Dorval
1962  First of annual painting trips to Loctudy
1966  First Major exhibition of Breton Paintings The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
1970  Exhibition, La Foret-Fouesnant  [Brittany]
Elected Member of Royal Society of Portrait Painters
1974  Second exhibition, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
1977  Edinburgh Festival Exhibition, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh ‘Breton Images’, Glasgow Art Club
1979  ‘Portrait’, BBC Television series featuring comedian Billy Connolly, mountaineer Chris Bonnington and Sir Edwin Brammal.
1982  Drawings, Pastels, Watercolours, The Macaulay Gallery, Stenton
1983  London Studio Exhibition, 33 Tite Street, Chelsea
‘Goudie at 50’; Major Retrospective. The Fine Art Society, Glasgow
1986  ‘Breton Idyll’, The French Institute, Edinburgh and the Fine Art Society, Glasgow
1987  ‘Breton Sketchbook’, The Macaulay Gallery, Stenton
1988  Portrait of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern
1987-89  Décor for Brittany Ferries flagship, ‘Bretagne’
1990  Exhibition, St.-Pol-de-Leon [Brittany] ;
Awarded the Freedom of St. Pol de Leon                              
Publication of ‘Goudie’s Brittany’
1991  ‘Goudie’s Venice’,  Harari and Johns, London
1992  ‘Goudie’s Brittany’, The Fine Art Society, Glasgow
1993  Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, for the Caledonia Club, London
Posthumous portrait of The 14th Duke of Hamilton       
1994  ‘Salome’, Edinburgh Festival Exhibition, The TSB Atrium, Edinburgh
1995  Décor for the First Class Passenger salons of the ‘Val de Loire’, Brittany Ferries
Collaboration with The Musee de la Faience, Quimper [Brittany]
1996  ‘Tam O’Shanter’, Edinburgh Festival Exhibition, Freemason’s Hall, Edinburgh
1998  ‘Goudie Ceramique’, The Musee de la Faience, Quimper [Brittany]
1999  ‘Tam O’Shanter, The Tale in Pictures’, The Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow                  ‘Goudie Ceramique’, The Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow
2000  ‘The Goudie Collection’ of Tam O’Shanter paintings opens on permanent display at Rozelle House, Alloway, Ayrshire
2001  ‘The Artist and his Muse’, The Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow
2002  ‘Breton Works’ Exhibition, The John Davies Gallery, Stow on the Wold
2003  ‘Tam O’ Shanter; New works’, The Glasgow Art Club, Glasgow
Portrait of the 15th Duke and Duchess of Hamilton
2004  Died at his home in Glasgow, March 9th.

2005  ‘Breton drawings and watercolours’, Ewan Mundy Fine Art, Glasgow
2006  ‘Alexander Goudie Memorial Exhibition’, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
2006    Brittany Ferries collection exhibition ‘L’Art est un Voyage’, Musee National de la Marine, Paris
2006    ‘Goudie’s Glasgow’, Roger Billcliffe  Gallery, Glasgow


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