Sunday 31 May 2015

Imagining a University

Imagining a University - Fifty Years of the University of Warwick Art Collection, Warwick University.

The art collection of the University of Warwick is huge.  The Mead Gallery showcases temporary exhibitions while the grounds and the buildings are the home of the University's considerable art collection.
Outside the Arts Centre stands Koan by Liliane Lijn.


Forest Planet nos 1, 2 and 3, by Atsuo Okamoto, 2009 (black basalt)

on the green by the Arts Centre.

 Slab and Bar Relief, Geoffrey Clarke, 1964 (cast aluminium) by the Arts Centre.

To commemorate 50 years of collecting, some of the artworks are being exhibited in the Mead Gallery at the University. It's a very interesting exhibition and what was particularly pleasing about the collection is the gender balance of the artists being shown. This post is only a small fraction, just the large abstracts, and men do predominate here.

Terry Frost, Red All Over, 1965 (acrylic on canvas)

Gene Davis, Untitled, 1965 (acrylic on canvas)

Davis was a member of the 'Washington Colour School' that painted huge colour field paintings in the 1950s and 1960s.


Jack Bush, Charcoal Band, 1964 (oil on canvas)

Influenced by Abstract Expressionism, Bush developed his own abstract paintings.

John Hoyland, 1.3.66, 1966, (acrylic on canvas)

Influenced by Abstract Expressionism, Hoyland made large, horizontal abstract paintings, using water-based acrylic paint. From 1964 until the end of the decade, red and green predominated as the background colours. These colours allow Hoyland to play with the illusion of depth created by colours, as red appears to come forward while green recedes into the background.

Patrick Heron, Four Vermillions: April 1965, 1965 (oil on canvas)

The shapes within the painting recall the boulders in Heron's garden in West Cornwall where he lived from 1956. The differences between the four shades of colour are heightened by the texture of the brush marks in the oil paint. Heron would later turn to acrylic paint to achieve a greater flatness of colour across the expanse of canvas.

Patrick Heron, Orange and Lemon with Whites: April 1965, 1965, (oil on canvas)

When reviewing the first exhibition of this painting in the New York Times in 1965, Stuart Preston noted that Heron was 'balancing his specific, squarish shapes in compositions of momentary equilibrium. Their state of suspended animation gives his pictures their extraordinary lightness'.

Roger Barnard, Towards, 1966 (acrylic on canvas)

This painting was included in the Whitechapel Gallery exhibition The New Generation in 1966. This was an important series of exhibitions that launched a new generation of British artists including David Hockney and Bridger Riley. Writing in the catalogue, Robert Hughes describes how 'complementary colour sets up a fast evanescent series of after images, some painted and others optical illusion'.

Tess Jaray, Salisbury Green, 1964 (oil on canvas)

Jaray was associated with a group of artists exhibiting in London in the early 1960s known as 'Situation'. They were concerned with producing large abstract paintings which contained no references to the material world but focused on the direct experience of making and viewing a painting as a painting rather than as a representation of some aspect of reality.

Jeremy Moon, Cape Red, 1965 (acrylic on canvas)

Albert Irvin, Albion, 1977, (acrylic on canvas)

'My paintings are not in any sense depictions of anything: I like to think that rather than being pictures of the world, they are pictures about it'.

Therese Oulton, Midas Vein, 1984, (oil on canvas)

Oulton's early, large abstract paintings, often referencing the landscape, were characterised by complex, richly-textured surfaces. Only four years after leaving St Martin's School of Art in London, she was nominated for the Turner Prize.

a closer look at those brushstrokes

Callum Innes, Exposed Painting, Zinc Yellow, 1996, (oil on canvas)
In his Exposed Paintings, Innes has applied a single colour oil paint on to the canvas. Turpentine is then repeatedly applied by brush to remove the paint before it begins to dry. Innes washes away or, as he has described it, 'unpaints' the canvas, leaving all but a trace of colour. A play between making and unmaking, underlies this body of work.




  1. It's lovely to be reminded of these artists' early work with such powerful examples.

  2. Thanks for including my painting 'Towards' in your post. I now live in Japan, but managed to get to the opening of the show, and it was quite something to see the painting for the first time in almost fifty years. Also nice to see that it was in good condition, despite all those warnings about acrylic paint in the mid-1960s.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Roger, and I'm so glad that you were able to get to the opening of the show - it must have been quite an experience seeing the painting for the first time in fifty years. I had a look at your website, and I love your work - wonderful, vibrant colours, interesting forms. Have always wanted to visit Japan, so slightly envious..... All the best.

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    3. And thanks again for the comments on my website. Japan has everything - typhoons, floods, eruptiing volcanos, debilitating heat and humidity in summer, and my favourite, earthquakes. Apart from all that, it's a great place to live!

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