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Amos Langdown

Amos Archibald Langdown

Amos Langdown was born on 7 May 1930, in Plettenberg Bay. He was involved for many years in art education.

Amos langdown was a graphic artist and painter of landscapes, town scenes, genre and figures. Langdown produced lithographs, woodcuts, etchings, drypoints, monotypes and copper engravings as well as paintings in oil.

He initially studied privately under the guidance of Katherine Harries. In 1961 a solo exhibition in Cape Town earned him a bursary from the Cape Three-Century Foundation, and during 1963-64 he furthered his studies at the Rijks Academy in Amsterdam, especially with regard to a large number of painting techniques.

In 1988 he completed a B A degree at the University of Port

Amos Langdown worked in various media, but showed a preference for oil painting. His paintings show a deep
understanding of and sympathy for the people and events in the world surrounding him.

The artist participated in various international exhibitions, for example Munich, Germany, The Venice Biennale in Italy and the Sub-Saharan African Exhibition that toured U S A for a year.

All the works in the latter exhibition were eventually sold
and can be seen at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. His works also forms part of several overseas and local collections, and his many solo exhibitions included one at the University of Port Elizabeth in 1988.

He trained as a teacher at the Zonnebloem College in Cape Town, first teaching at a primary school in Oudtshoorn. In his career he maintained a balance between his own practice as an artist and his passion for teaching.

He became a schools inspector and taught at the Hewat Training College in Cape Town and later at the Dower Training College in Port Elizabeth.

Langdown’s first solo exhibitions led to him being awarded grants by the Government and the Cape Tercentenary Foundation to study abroad. At this time he was already studying part-time at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT.

The influence and guidance of Katrine Harries (1914–1918) is discernible in his work, which always has a firm basis in sound drawing, composition and a graphic quality that is particularly evident in his lithographs.

Langdown’s woodcut in the Campbell Smith Collection, Untitled, dated 1964, also shows an awareness of prints made by the German Expressionists with its vigorous cutting, the exploitation of the grain of the wood and the balancing of the black and white areas of the design.

Although influenced by the great French cartoonist, lithographer and draughtsman Honoré Daumier (1808–1879), Langdown’s own social commentary on the life of the communities on the Cape Flats was invariably infused with a sympathetic insight and sentiment.

This is clearly seen in his somewhat formulaic oil paintings of grouped figures. To some extent this mood also reflects the influence of the work of Carl Büchner (1921 – 2003) and Russell Harvey (1904–1963) who were also teaching at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the the time.

The sentiment observable in his later work has tended, especially since his recent death, to it being exploited for sale by commercial galleries in the form of commercial colour lithographic prints. Langdown was also a poet in his own right, and lent his skills to illustrating the published writings of such literary personalities as Alba Bouwer, Pieter Grobbelaar and the poet P.J. Philander who recently died in the USA.

He died in Overbaakens, Port Elizabeth, 1 February 2006.

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Amos Langdown Artworks
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