The Machinist

The Machinist




1915 - 1965

English School

The Machinist   

Oil on canvas

121 x 95 cms

475/8   x 373/8 ins

The painter and collector David Carr, has been described as "a lost genius in the canon of Post-War British Artists, a pioneering creator who succeeded in his quest to paint mans epic struggle for individual identity".

He was born to a wealthy family in London in 1915 who owned the biscuit manufacturing business of the same name. He was educated at Uppingham and began his working career at the family firm where his father was chairman, but he hated the commercial world and left to read History at Oxford.

He had always hankered after the life of an artist and after holidaying in Italy, resolved to pursue a career as a painter, much against the wishes of his father. In the late 1930's he studied art at the Byam Shaw School and then in 1939 he enrolled at the famous East Anglian School of Art run by Cedric Morris and Arthur Lett-Haines, where fellow students included Lucian Freud and his future wife, Barbara Gilligan.

The married couple moved to Starston Hall, Harleston, Norfolk and he had a studio there and in London. He became friends with fellow painters Robert MacBryde and Robert Colquhoun and it was at this time that Carr also started to collect art. He became a significant artist in the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society and also contributed works to a representative exhibition of British Painters at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1953 and at the Southampton City Art Gallery some years later.

In the 1950s Carr began a remarkable series of works depicting mans relationship with machines and industrial production, exploring the blurred line between the repetitive movements of working men and the machines they tended. These visionary works, in a Post-Cubist style, are Carrs lasting legacy and convey his idiosyncratic view of mid-20th Century Britain.

In 1968, the Bertha Shayer Gallery in New York staged an exhibition of his paintings but it was not until 1987 though, nineteen years after Carr's premature death from cancer, that he came to real prominence in London. This was when the Mayor Gallery held a retrospective of the work of the man that Bryan Robertson called "…of special importance to British Art of this period".

A further retrospective exhibition was held in London in 1997 at the Austin Desmond Gallery.


David Carr: The Discovery of an Artist - Bryan Robertson and Ronald Alley

Dictionary of British Artists Working 1900-1950 - Grant M. Waters

Artist's in Britain since 1945 - David Buckman


1915 - 1965


Oil on canvas