BRITISH 1920 – 1999
Patrick Heron (British, born January 30, 1920–died March 20, 1999) was an abstract painter, writer, and designer who made noteworthy contributions to the development of abstract art. Heron was born in Headingley, Leeds, in Yorkshire, England. In 1933, Heron began to paint under the influence of Paul Cézanne after visiting the National Gallery in London during a school trip. Between 1944 and 1945, during World War II, Heron met many leading artists of the St Ives School at Leach Pottery at St Ives, including Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, both of whom were abstract artists. This endeared Heron to the European Abstract Expressionist movement. In 1943, Heron completed his first mature painting, The Piano.
Impressed by an exhibition of work by Georges Braque at the Tate Gallery in London, Heron wrote his first essay on Braque in 1946. Immediately after this, he began to tour Paris, Provence, and Italy. Heron exhibited his first series of abstract paintings in a solo exhibition at Redfern Gallery in London in 1947. Heron’s love for painting grew, and, in 1950, he attended the Slade School of Art. He then taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London between 1953 and 1956. Heron first met the American Abstract Expressionists in London in 1956, during an exhibition at the Tate Gallery, and he soon started to paint in an abstract style, as seen in the paintings Square Leaves (1956) and Winter Harbour (1955). The inspiration that led to Heron’s characteristic style of interlinking forms, and his use of balanced space and color was his move to Eagles Nest in Cornwall, England. Heron visited Sydney, Australia, between 1967 and 1973, and he exhibited at the Bonython Gallery. He also delivered a public lecture on Contemporary Art titled The Shape of Color. In 1957, Heron’s first Stripepaintings were exhibited in a group show titled Metavisual, Taschiste, Abstract by Heron’s wife, Delia. She died in 1979, and Heron could not paint for a few years.
In 1989, Heron returned to Sydney, Australia, and worked from the Art Gallery in New South Wales. Heron held an exhibition at the Camden Art Gallery in 1994 titled Big Paintings, which exhibited his largest paintings, measuring 15 to 22 feet long. In 1996, Heron collaborated with his son-in-law Julian Feary in setting up an outdoor artwork installation titled Big Painting Sculpture. Heron continued to paint until the day before he died in 1999 in Cornwall, England. His works can be seen in museums around the world.
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