Sybil Andrews (1898-1992) was a notable British artist and a member of the Grosvenor School, well known for her modernist linocuts produced between 1920 and 1988. She developed a formal language encouraged by Claude Flight, a teacher and mentor. Her prints, influenced by Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism, captured the dynamism of the roaring 1920s and 1930s: images of race cars, motorcycles, machinery, sports, and daily life are all captured in bright, vivid colors exuding speed and movement. The color linocut was a 20th-century phenomenon and her medium of choice as it captured the spirit of the modern age: industrialism and utilitarianism.
Mary Ryan Gallery represented Andrews from 1983 until her death in 1992. As the primary American gallery involved in promoting her art, we featured four exhibitions of British linocuts and placed hundreds of her works, as well as those by fellow Grosvenor school artists, in private and museum collections. In 1983, Mary Ryan Gallery held a complete retrospective of Andrews’ linocuts. Her work was also the subject of solo shows at the gallery in 1987, 1992, and 1995.
Born in East Anglia, England, Andrews was first introduced to art through John Hassal’s correspondence course in Bristol during WWI. Following the war she returned to her hometown in Suffolk where she met architect and artist, Cyril Power. Together, they moved to London. Andrews’ art education continued in Heatherly’s School of Art in London, where she studied under Henri G. Massey. One year later, she left Heatherly’s to study independently with Polish sculptor Henri Glicenstein. It was there that she witnessed a lecture demonstration by William Kermode on black and white woodblock printing. Andrews attended many of Flight’s classes on linocutting, becoming one of his most successful pupils.
Prints such as “Straphangers” and “Rush Hour”, depict the London Underground as the symbol for the new machine age. However, Andrews had a greater interest in capturing the rhythm of the human figure engaged in either work or sport, and many of her linocuts reflect this fascination. Her interest in sporting activities possibly helped Andrews secure a commission from the London Passenger Transport Board between 1929 and 1937. During these years she worked jointly with Cyril Power under the pseudonym “Andrew Power” to produce posters for sporting events including the tennis at Wimbledon. When Andrews emigrated with her husband from Britain to Campbell River on Vancouver Island in 1947 she continued to make linocuts, and broadened her subject matter to include the lumber industry and farming. In total, Andrews made about 80 linocuts; half of her output completed before 1939.
Important publications include the catalog raisonné of her prints by Peter White, accompanying the Glenbow Museum exhibition. Her “Speedway” is the cover image of the major monograph, “Linocuts of the Machine Age” by Stephen Coppel. “Rhythms of Modern Life: British Prints, 1914-1939” was published by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2008 in conjunction with an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.