Albert Irvin and Abstract Expressionism

Geddes, Stewart (2018) Albert Irvin and Abstract Expressionism. [Show/Exhibition]

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6958 Geddes (2018) Paint under the fingernails Catalogue Essay Albert Irvin and the New American Painting_final.pdf - Accepted Version
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Abstract

‘Albert Irvin and Abstract Expression’ analyses the implication of the 1959 Tate Exhibition ‘The New American Painting’ on the work of British colourist, abstract artist Albert Irvin RA, OBE. ‘The New American Painting’ was the first time Abstract Expressionism was presented en masse in Britain, and extended its exposure beyond the few works shown at ‘Modern Art in the United States’, also at Tate in 1956. The later exhibition cemented the shift of attention from Paris to New York as the centre for “advanced tendencies”1 in the visual arts. The scale and gestural energy of the American works was enormously significant for a generation of younger British artists, including Irvin. He went on to have a successful career as both artist and Fine Art lecturer at Goldsmiths College, London. The illustrated catalogue to ‘Albert Irvin and Abstract Expressionism’ includes an introduction by Mel Gooding, an extended interview with Basil Beattie – Irvin’s friend, fellow artist and lecturer at Goldsmiths College – and an essay by exhibition curator Stewart Geddes. They explore the experiences of a young artist in Britain during the late 1950s, and the encounter with the American works; Irvin’s introduction to the artist Peter Lanyon; the significance of Irvin joining the first warehouse-based studios in the UK at St Katherine Docks, London, and the founding of the artists’ co-operative SPACE; the importance of Irvin’s change in medium from oil to acrylic paint; and the developments in the Fine Art department at Goldsmiths College throughout the 1960s and 70s, into one of the most important departments in the world. The exhibition ‘Albert Irvin and Abstract Expressionism’ took place at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA, www.rwa.org.uk) from the 8th December 2018 until 3rd March 2019. It placed the first comprehensive retrospective survey of Albert Irvin RA, OBE (www.albert-irvin.com) in the context of a 60th anniversary celebration of the Tate’s 1959 show ‘The New American Painting’. The exhibition also included examples of British Kitchen Sink painting as representative of the previous condition, and artist friends and associates of Irvin’s including Peter Lanyon 2, John Hoyland 3, Basil Beattie and Gillian Ayers, as well as personal artefacts from his studio. The RWA exhibition was made with the support of the Albert Irvin Estate, enabling the RWA to show works from throughout Irvin’s long painting career (many of which had never been seen in public before); and Tate Gallery, who lent works by Pollock, De Kooning, Motherwell, Newman, Bratby and others. The exhibition also included Grace Hartigan – the only female artist in the original Tate exhibition – and Jack Tworkov, from collections in the US. Irvin got to know both American artists during trips to the United States in the late 1960s. The exhibition was opened on Friday 7th December by Sir Nicholas Serota. 1. The phrase used in the catalogue to ‘The New American Painting’ to describe recent developments in the visual arts. 2. ‘St Ives’ (Private Collection) from 1957 by Peter Lanyon and included in the exhibition, is from the same year that Irvin first met Lanyon. 3. ‘Ivanoe 16.3.80’ (Hoyland Estate) from 1980 by Hoyland and included in the exhibition, is from the year which he selected Irvin for the Hayward Annual exhibition, which in turn led to Irvin’s commercially successful career with the Gimpel Fils gallery, and enabled him to give up his salaried post at Goldsmiths College.

Item Type: Show/Exhibition
Uncontrolled Keywords: Albert Irvin; Abstract Expressionism; Abstraction; Basil Beattie Goldsmiths College, London Jack Tworkov Grace Hartigan Stewart Geddes British Post-War painting The New American Painting
Related URLs:
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > ND Painting
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Arts > Art
Research Priority Areas: Being Human - Past, Present & Future
Depositing User: Stewart Geddes
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2019 14:18
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2019 11:45
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/6958

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