An Appreciation of Maurice Man (1921-1997)

Lets put Art Deco to one side for moment or two. A few years back I was browsing 20th Century art on ebay when I stumbled across a rather fetching 1960’s portrait MMphoto1of a young lady. Semi abstract, with use of heavy colours and angular application, I found it simply mesmerising. Several bids were placed, but I duly lost out. Feeling rather put out by this, I hit google on a mission to track down further works by the artist in question, one Maurice Man. At the time four were found to be available for sale by dealers worldwide; one in New York, one in London, and two in a tiny  gallery in Great Malvern, Worcestershire (a small town near the Western border of England). The thing is, and you couldn’t make this up, I just happen to live in Great Malvern. I swiftly applied my shoes and 10 minutes later was stood in font of the pair of portraits. Money was exchanged, and so began my love affair

Girl Reading (1966)

‘Girl Reading’ 1966

with the striking work of this greatly overlooked talent.

Research hasn’t yielded a great deal of information about his life and work. He was born in Northwest London in 1921. Studied at Willesden and St. Martin’s Schools of Art and in Paris at L’Académie de la Grande Chauiére. Primarily a figure and portrait painter, notably of women, his subjects included the actresses Joan Collins, Julie Andrews, Sylvia Syms and Natalie Wood. A magazine article from the mid-1960’s I unearthed, observed him at work, noting his foul temper and a tendency to destroy his work in fits of rage. His medium of choice was oil stick on board or canvas, with a thick coat of varnish to harden it.

Sleeping

I’m no art expert (far from it), but I would cautiously declare that the portraits I’ve

Quiet Nude (1967)

‘Nude Seated by a Window’ 1967

seen range from deeply evocative and sensual, to just plain amateur. Perhaps this inconsistency is one of the main reasons he never gained the recognition I believe he deserved.

The two volume, ‘Dictionary of British Artists Since 1945’ by David Buckman notes that Maurice moved to Hastings in the early 1970s. I can only assume that he took a step away from portrait work at this time, I’ve not managed to find evidence of any works dated post 1970, but that’s not to say none exist.

in 2015, 18 years on from his death, his work still only changes hands for tiny

Blue Nude (1970)

‘Blue Nude’ 1970

sums of money (I picked up one for £11 a year or two back), great for collectors like me, but rather depressing for Maurices’ legacy. Hopefully sooner or later someone of note will fall for his work give him a bit of long overdue publicity. Until then, I’ll just keep filling my walls!

—————-

An Interesting post-script to this article is Kay Lipton, Maurices’ former wife getting in touch. I subsequently discovered, through her fairly racy biography ‘A Life of Art & Passion’, a great deal more about Maurice’s personality. Their relationship was a passionate, youthful & short lived affair in the early 1940’s. Kays’ honest, and sometimes brutal recollections show Maurice to be a fairly complicated and, at times, extremely unpleasant character, later diagnosed as bi-polar. They seperated long before he produced the above works, but it all adds to the mystique of this greatly overlooked artist.

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About Art Deco Magpie

Seasoned Art Deco collector and blogger Philip Butler, aka Art Deco Magpie, has spent many years transforming the interior of his family home into a 1930’s time warp. Furniture, wall coverings, fixtures, fittings and carpets, nothing has been neglected from his quest to obtain near film set perfection. Combining a love of photography and passion for 20th century history, Philip is now working on his debut book; “Streamline Worcestershire – A Journey Through the Inter-War Modernist Architecture in the County“. Philip lives in Great Malvern with his wife and two young daughters. When not immersing himself in all things Art Deco, he can be found tinkering with classic cars, working in the alcoholic drinks trade, practicing writing in the third person, and trying to be a good dad!
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28 Responses to An Appreciation of Maurice Man (1921-1997)

  1. I am Kay Lipton formerly the wife of Maurice Man, I had a son Vincent by him but because of his blatant philandering and at times violence I divorced him.My attraction to him was his brilliant art when I met him at art school .we have both become famous. To read about him at that time find my book ‘ A Life of Art and Passión’ from Barnes & Nobel by Kay Lipton http://www.artlipton.net
    Cheers,
    Kay Lipton B.A. Hons Qld.

    Like

    • decopab says:

      Hi Kay, how wonderful to hear from you. I had heard from a dealer I once spoke to about Maurices’ appalling behaviour and notoriety, but I’ve found very little in print concerning him. I’ve just ordered your book and can’t wait to learn more. Were you the subject in any of his works? Best wishes, Phil

      Like

      • KAY LIPTON says:

        Well Phil,
        Yes at the time when we had a studio in Charing Cross Road I posed in the nude as did many of
        our artist friends. In my book ` A Life of Art and Passion’ it says it all.
        Kay

        Like

      • Kathleen Lipton says:

        Hi Phil, I was so amazed that you have collected so many of his works, it was an afternoon of heavy rain in Brisbane where I live at present, that I tracked down Maurice’s past, Post-war.We were living in a studio flat in Charing Cross Rd. London, and there held life classes with our friends, each having to pose nude in turn, but when it came to Maurice’s turn he refused and was heartily laughed at which made him even more`aggressive’. He definitely had a problem which I had to live with. It might be to do with him getting out of the fighting forces because of a weak heart! Always frowned upon during the war when he lived a very secluded life, mostly up in Blackpool where we struggled to carry on life with a small child and little money coming in from `free lance’ work from a biscuit manufacture, Macdonald’s What do you do to earn a crust Phil? I still press on but do less of my big works for exhibition these days being in my dotage!.

        Cheers, Kay

        Like

  2. Kay Lipton says:

    Yes, I was in an artist smock. Amazing to read your account of this troubled artist. I later met a doctor who had one of his art works in his house and by coincidence one of my works from East Africa.
    That is where my second husband and I met this Dr J. Luder some years later, and he told me he treated Maurice Man for his condition. Bipolar!

    Like

  3. Sara Bell says:

    Hi Phil, a friend of mine has just emailed me with your post on Maurice and I am his niece Sara. I was not aware of Maurice’s first marriage to Kay nor of their son Vincent. Maurice went on to marry Valerie, my mothers sister and they had a son Colin, my cousin of course. Val sadly passed away some years ago now. I as a small child and young girl was always very fond of Maurice although also very aware of his condition although in those days they called it Manic depressive. He always fascinated me and i always loved his pastels of which I have some. My dad, who unfortunately passed away last September introduced Maurice to my mothers sister Val. I have lot’s of photos of him. Dad also has a number of his works and also Maurice gave him his pastels, which we still have. They are in a lovely wooden draw set all arranged in their colour ranges. My dad met Maurice from his artist days and circles from Goldsmiths art school. Really interesting to read this article and I notice that it is a year ago almost to the day that you posted your article and i would be very interested to know if you have found any more of his works.
    Sara

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sara, what a delightful surprise to hear from you, and thanks for the information on his post Kay life. I’d be fascinated to see images of the works and photos in your possession if you were to pop them online sometime. Did Maurice continue working in his later years? Most of portraits I’ve come accross date from the 60s, so I be curious to know if his style developed later on.
      I’ve not acquired any more works recently, although a few have appeared on eBay, they’re usually overpriced or located abroad.
      It’s such a shame his work isn’t more widely appreciated.
      Best wishes,
      Phil

      Like

      • Sara Bell says:

        Hi Phil, that’s great as i was delighted to be told about your article. How can I put online the work and photos I have? Maurice dropped out of our lives for quite a number of years after he and Valerie were divorced – it was his bi-pola but he had a number of successful exhibitions and carried on painting or rather using pastels. I saw him quite late in his life when I visited him with Colin, his son, my cousin when he lived in Hastings but he wasn’t a well man.
        let me know how I can upload some images for you.
        all the best
        Sara

        Like

      • Hi Sara, thanks for your message. I’m glad to hear he continued to work and exhibit in later years. I don’t suppose you remember what part of Hastings he lived in do you? It’s where I grew up! For images perhaps use a photo sharing site like Flickr. Or upload them to a blog on here? Ever thought of going on the antiques road show? I’m sure they’d love the family connection, along with his dramatic unique portraits. Regards, Philip

        Sent from Samsung Mobile on O2

        Like

  4. Paul says:

    Hi there – I stumbled across this page after seeing a painting of his at auction tomorrow, for your information:

    https://chiswickauctions.co.uk/lot/170307-lot-165/

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rosie Bea says:

    Hi Art Deco Magpie. I was a close friend of Maurice’s from the mid 70’s, up until the day he died. I have a few of his paintings, and would be happy to send you photos of them. A friend of ours was, at one stage collating a biography on him, but I have lost contact with her, so don’t think she ever completed it?

    Like

    • Hi Rosie, thanks for getting in touch. I’m amazed how many people stumble upon my post on Maurice. I’ve certainly never come accross a printed biography. Shame, he deserves more recognition.
      Did Maurice continue to work in later life? Most of the portraits seem to date from the 60s and 70s.
      I’d love to see photos of your paintings, my email is p_butler@outlook.Com
      Best wishes,
      Philip

      Like

      • Rosie Bea says:

        Hi Phillip, Am trying to send you photos via your email, but for some reason, can’t? Is there a gap between p and butler? Also many thanks for your response to my comments.
        Very kind regards’
        Rosie.

        Like

  6. Hi Rosie, it’s P_butler, thanks, Phil

    Like

  7. Rosie Bea says:

    Thanks….

    Like

  8. Julie W says:

    Hello Enthusiasts! Very much enjoying the discussion and learning about Maurice Man. Here in Washington DC, I have one of Maurice Man’s pastels, purchased on 24 September 1958 from Kensington (High Street) Art Gallery. The bill of sale describes it as “Robed Woman, standing in profile”, Catalogue number eleven. It is part of a gentleman’s estate, being sold for charity (he had no heirs). It sounds as if most of you are in the UK, but if there’s an American collector out there who is interested, please contact me.

    Like

  9. Saul/Sara says:

    Thanks Phil
    I have made dropbox and invited you via email. Anything you got, bung there and i will post it webwise!

    Like

  10. Saul/Sara says:

    Thanks Phil
    I have made dropbox and invited you via p_butler@outlook.Com. Bung anything you got there and i will post webwise!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Saul/Sara says:

    Hello All
    Long delayed but here be a website to collate the works of this fascinating – and difficult – Artist.
    https://www.mauriceman.com
    At present the work is mostly stuff grabbed from the internet but if any proud owners would like to submit stuff i will put it up alongside ownership details and the like. Dates especially would be appreciated as nothing i have found so far is dated.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rosie Bea says:

    Very interested to see the site dedicated to MM up and running. Well done. As I mentioned to Phil, I knew Maurice for many years, and have some of his paintings.

    Like

    • Saul/Sara says:

      Hi Rosie et al
      I am interested to have any images of MM’s work to add to the web site, especially at higher resolution. Most of what i have is very low res grabbed from the web. Please feel free to contact me direct via info@mauriceman.com and i can arrange dropbox. At the moment i have very little info attached to the images, dates etc so very little to go on when organising the site. It would be ideal to arrange the site by date but at the moment this would leave a huge pile of miscellaneous. I have thought also to do it by subject and/or medium. Any one got any other ideas? i could, i suppose, arrange by resolution;)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll take some better shots of my own small collection over the weekend and upload them to the folder. Not all of the pictures are dated, and I think Rosie mentioned he often put false dates on his work, so not much help there. I think organising them by resolution and subject is probably the best option unless further information presents itself. P

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