More than 30 paintings by Sir Winston Churchill, many of which have never appeared in public, will be on display in a historic exhibition, "The Art of Diplomacy: Winston Churchill and the Pursuit of Painting" at the Millennium Gate Museum in Atlanta from October 3, 2014 to February 1, 2015. The landmark exhibition is being presented by Atlanta resident and Churchill great-grandchild Duncan Sandys in collaboration with Millennium Gate founder Rodney Mims Cook, Jr. and Curator Josephine E. Cook. Many of the works, as well as other never-before-exhibited Churchill memorabilia including photographs, letters, films, and personal belongings, are being lent by Sandys and other members of the Churchill family from their private collections.
"The Art of Diplomacy" guides the viewer from Churchill's early artistic career in the late 1910's to his prodigious, inter-war period and, finally, to his late works leading up to his death in 1965. Divided into eight sequences, the exhibition will span the Millennium Gate's three major galleries, two period rooms, and its technology center, including sections on: Origins, Mentors, and Political Rebirth, 1915-1921; Technique and Tactics, 1922-1930; Hobbies, Political Wastelands, and the Rise of the Nazi Party, 1930-1939; World War II and a Sunset in Marrakech, 1939-1945; Art as Diplomacy in the Post-War Era, 1945-1965; Legacy, 1965-Now; Chartwell and Chequers; and Churchill and Georgia.
Churchill, who began painting in the wake of his resignation as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1915, embraced art as a source of great enjoyment. But beyond his love of what he called a "joy-ride in a paint-box," he saw painting as testing ground for his audacity, humility, foresight, and strength of memory. Painting a picture, he wrote, "is like fighting a battle; and trying to paint a picture is, I suppose, like trying to fight a battle."
"The Art of Diplomacy" presents a fresh interpretation that places the act of painting near the center of Churchill's life – and, by extension, at the heart of twentieth century history. As Churchill wrote, "If it weren't for painting I could not live. I couldn't bear the strain of things." In the words of art historian Ernst Gombrich – "his painting may have helped to save Western civilization."
A feature article about the exhibit appeared in the Wall Street Journal on 25 July. (artfix.com)