Sticks and stones and a knighthood.
He is seen in the North as a major talent, but frankly, a quick trip round the Lowry Art Gallery in Manchester would soon leech that opinion from your brain. I was so appalled by the repetitive, low standard that I went round it again with the criteria: "If they offered them for free which ones would I take. There were two. I was invited to meet Lowry at his house many years ago but I was doing something else so I missed it. Then he had the cheek to die soon after. Pity. I'd have liked to ask him straight out about what he really thought of his work and rocketing reputation.
TJ Clark, who co-curated the big Lowry show at Tate Britain says: " Lowry looked at Adolphe Valette, his most important teacher, a late French impressionist, and he thought: this is too beautiful, this is not what industrialisation is. Industrialisation is our reality and somehow painting has to give form to that, to shape it, articulate it, but not allow the painter or the viewer to leave hold of everything in it that is tragically awful."
What a load of bollocks that is. I think you'd find that Lowry looked at his teacher's work and said. "Frig me, I could be never begin to be that good" and went back his little stick figures and his very limited colour palette.
Of course I open myself to that fatuous claim that I am an "art snob" like a lot of the art world. That is not true - I believe Lowry was an obsessive artist who understood only too well his limited talent and was astonished that the "London boys" - sniffing out his undoubted unique visual language - started to hype his work to that famously gullible market. Good luck to him. But please don't tell me he didn't know that there were artists who painted the Northern scene who could paint him into the ground. Geoffrey Key to name just one… I suspect Lowry knew he was "lucky".
Anyway, the art market is big enough to support "the good, the bad and the ugly." Lowry as an artist legend and an icon of the Northern scene does no harm to anyone. People in the north (and elsewhere) will continue to admire his talent. In fact, on a more positive note, I heard Lowry turned down all honours including a knighthood. So, perhaps he was "awreet" after all…