'Red Garden Painting: 3–5 June 1985', oil on canvas, 208 x335 cm
30 January 1920|
Headingley, Leeds, England
20 March 1999 (aged 79)|
Zennor, Cornwall, England
- 1 Biography
- 2 Personal life
- 3 Career as a painter
- 4 Career as a critic
- 5 Major solo exhibitions
- 6 Works in public collections
- 7 Photographs of Patrick Heron
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Patrick Heron (b. 1920, Leeds, England; d. 1999, St Ives, England) was a British artist and critic recognised as one of the leading painters of his generation. Influenced by Cezanne, Matisse, Braque and Bonnard, Heron made a significant contribution to the dissemination of modernist ideas of painting through his critical writing and primarily his art.
Heron's artworks are most noted for his exploration and use of colour and light. He is known for both his early figurative work and non-figurative works, which over the years looked to explore further the idea of making all areas of the painting of equal importance. His work was exhibited widely throughout his career and while he wrote regularly early in his career, notably for New Statesman and Arts New York, this continued periodically in later years.
Born 30 January 1920 at Headingley, Leeds in Yorkshire, Heron was the eldest child of Thomas [Tom] Milner Heron and Eulalie 'Jack' Heron [née Davies]. The family moved to Cornwall when Heron was five, where Tom joined Alec Walker at Crysede to manage and expand the business from artist-designed wood-block prints on silk to include garment-making and retail. The family moved again in 1929 to Welwyn Garden City where Tom established Cresta Silks. Notable designers including Edward McKnight Kauffer and Wells Coates, Paul Nash and Cedric Morris worked with Cresta, and Heron also created fabric designs for the firm from his teenage years. At school, Heron met his future wife Delia Reiss, daughter of Celia and Richard Reiss, a director of the company that founded Welwyn Garden City.
Registered as a conscientious objector in World War II, Heron worked as an agricultural labourer in Cambridgeshire before he was signed off for ill health. He returned to Cornwall to work for Bernard Leach at the Leach Pottery, St Ives, in 1944-45. During this time, he met many leading artists of the St Ives School, including Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. Reacquainted with Cornwall, Heron spent each summer there until it became his permanent home in 1956 after his purchase and refurbishment of Eagles Nest the year before from Mark Arnold-Forster, a house Heron had lived in during his childhood. He would spend the rest of his life here, until he died at home in March 1999.
Career as a painter
Heron used that most rare and uncanny of gifts: the ability to invent an imagery that was unmistakably his own, and yet which connects immediately with the natural world as we perceive it, and transforms our vision of it. Like those of his acknowledged masters, Braque, Matisse and Bonnard, his paintings are at once evocations and celebrations of the visible, discoveries of what he called "the reality of the eye".
Heron's early works were strongly influenced by artists including Matisse, Bonnard, Braque and Cezanne. Throughout his career, Heron worked in a variety of media, from the silk scarves he designed for his father’s company Cresta from the age of 14, to a stained-glass window for Tate St Ives, but he was foremost a painter working in oils and gouache.
Heron first saw the paintings of Paul Cézanne at an exhibition at the National Gallery in 1933, an influence which continued throughout his career. Having seen The Red Studio by Matisse (one of his other significant influences) at the Redfern Gallery in 1943, Heron completed The Piano, which he considered to be his first mature work. His first solo exhibition was held in 1947 at the Redfern Gallery, London. That same year, Heron began a series of portraits of TS Eliot, one of which was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1966. In 2013 this highly abstracted portrait was the centre of an exhibition at the gallery, displayed for the first time alongside a selection of Heron’s original studies from life and memory from which it was produced.
Heron's permanent move to Eagles Nest in 1956 coincided with his commitment to non-figurative painting and resulted in a very productive period of his work. Its roots can be seen in the Space in Colour exhibition held at Hanover Gallery, London in 1953 where the works of Heron and nine of his British contemporaries were displayed, which he both curated and wrote the catalogue for. His Tachiste paintings made reference to the garden at Eagles Nest, such as Azalea Garden, in the Tate collection.
His ‘Stripe’ paintings, described by Alan Bowness as being 'suffused with light and colour and full of a positive life-enhancing quality so free and so refreshing' emphasised this move towards the principles of colour. Writing in 1968, Bowness went on to describe how he could 'think of few more disconcerting paintings in the last twenty years than Patrick Heron’s stripe paintings of 1957'. Heron described how the ‘vertical touch’ of the Tachiste paintings were pushed to the ultimate conclusion, as the lines 'became longer and longer, until on one painting in early 1956 they became so long that the strokes touched top and bottom. From 1958 onwards, Heron was represented by Waddington Galleries. When Ben Nicholson moved to Switzerland in 1958, Heron took over his studio at Porthmeor, overlooking the beach at St Ives, and began to take advantage of the larger space to paint at a bigger scale – first soft-edged and then the self-described ‘wobbly hard-edge painting’ such as Cadmium with Violet, Scarlet, Emerald, Lemon and Venetian: 1969 in the Tate.
The shock of Delia’s unexpected death in 1979 meant Heron did little painting for some time. When he did return to the canvas, he turned to the garden at Eagles Nest. Just as it had shown a route to abstraction when Heron first moved there in the 1950s, through it he found a way to reinvigorate his creative approach: rather than rapidly drawing large shapes in pen across the canvas which would then be filled in with a fine Japanese watercolour brush as he had through most of the 1970s, Heron used a large brush, mixed different colours together, and painted from the arm rather than the wrist, allowing the works to develop through the act of painting. This burst of creativity, resulting in paintings such as 28 January: 1983 (Mimosa), formed Heron’s Barbican exhibition of 1985.
In 1989 Heron was invited to be artist-in-residence at the museum of New South Wales in Sydney, and this resulted in another highly prolific period of his work. Drawing inspiration from his daily walk to his studio through the city’s Botanic Gardens located by the harbour, Heron produced six large paintings and forty-six gouaches in sixteen weeks. These works are reactions to real visual experiences, yet are not direct representations; instead the line and colour encapsulate ‘specific visual realities without ever depicting them’.
These intense periods of activity characterised Heron’s later career, made obvious through his exhibitions at the Barbican, and another at Camden Arts Centre in 1994. Taking advantage of the space of the centre, Heron created a series of paintings of grand proportions – At 6 feet 6 inches tall and ranging from 11 to 17 feet long, they were conceived with Camden Arts Centre’s galleries in mind. These paintings formed the exhibition entitled ‘Big Paintings’ that went on to tour Britain. The year before, Heron designed a coloured glass window for the new Tate St Ives with his son-in-law Julian Feary, which opened in 1993. Heron was commissioned to paint a portrait of author AS Byatt (1997), and the following year Tate Gallery, London staged a major retrospective of his work in 1998. This was the most comprehensive exhibition of Heron’s work and brought together items from the different decades and periods of his working life. Selected by David Sylvester, the works were displayed so that the last gallery with his late paintings adjoined the first gallery with his earliest works, making explicit how the elements on which Heron's career was founded were already in place. Nicholas Serota, former director of the Tate Gallery, who was a friend as well as patron, described Heron as 'one of the most influential figures in post-war British art'.
Once the exhibition closed, at the Tate Gallery, London, Heron embarked on a series of 100 gouache paintings, each no bigger than A4. He stopped at 43, the number it took to cover the carpet in his sitting room at Eagles Nest.
Career as a critic
Naturally I like the article [in the New English Weekly] very much indeed – but not only because what you say about my work pleases me, but also because it is criticism that could only come from someone who has practised himself – and responded to the work in the way it was done. [Henry Moore]
Dear Mr Heron, I have translated certain sections of your book on paintings which I have read with interest. You throw a new light on those things about which run-of-the-mill criticism is bewildering. My sincere compliments, G Braque [Georges Braque]
Patrick Heron was highly acclaimed as a writer as well as an artist, and respected by his contemporaries for being able to articulate art from the perspective of a practitioner. His writing about art began in 1945 when he was invited by Philip Mairet, editor of The New English Weekly, to contribute to the journal. His first published article, on Ben Nicholson, was written while Heron was still at Leach Pottery. This was soon followed by essays on Picasso, Klee, Cézanne and Braque. Within the next two years Heron began broadcasting a series of talks on contemporary art on the BBC World Service and the newly founded Third programme, and wrote regularly for New Statesman. In 1955, he became London Correspondent to Arts Digest, New York (later renamed Arts(NY)), and in the same year a selection of his criticism was published by Routledge as The Changing Forms of Art. In 1958, Heron took a ‘vow of silence’ as a critic, giving up his regular columns as he said he wanted to be a painter who wrote, not a writer who paints.
He did continue to contribute to exhibition catalogues, and wrote some key articles. Notably in 1966, 1968 and 1970 he published a series of articles in Studio International questioning the perceived ascendancy of American artists, at the expense of British and Parisian artists. His final essay on the subject was in a closely worded article of some 14,000 words published over a period of three days in The Guardian in October 1974. He also wrote passionately in defence of the independence and autonomy of English Art Schools against their integration into the polytechnic system. Heron’s articles and essays have been republished in collected works, such as ‘Selected Writings by the Artist’ in Patrick Heron (Oxford: 1988), Patrick Heron on Art and Education (Leeds: 1996), and The Colour of Colour (Texas: 1979).
Major solo exhibitions
1947 Redfern Gallery, London [First solo exhibition]
1952 Wakefield City Art Gallery
1960 Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York
1960 The Waddington Galleries, London
1963 Galerie Charles Lienhard, Zurich
1965 Hume Tower, Edinburgh
1965 VIII Biennal de Sao Paulo: Gra-Bretanha 1965: Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Paulo
1967 The Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh
1973 Bonython Art Gallery, Paddington, Sydney, NSW
1978 The University of Texas Art Museum, Austin, Texas
1985 Barbican Art Gallery
1994 Camden Arts Centre
1998 Tate Britain
2018 Tate St Ives
Works in public collections
Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal
Aberdeen Art Gallery
Arts Council of Great Britain, London
Barclays Bank Collection, London
Bishop Otter College, Chichester
Bristol City Art Gallery
British Broadcasting Corporation, London
British Council, London
British Museum, London
Contemporary Art Society, London
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, London
Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford
Cornwall House, Exeter University
Courtauld Gallery, London
Eliot College, University of Kent, Canterbury
Exeter Art Gallery
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Granada Television, Manchester
Hatton Art Gallery, Newcastle University
The Hepworth, Wakefield
St John's College, Oxford
Leeds City Art Gallery
Leicestershire Education Committee, Leicester
Maclaurin Art Gallery, Rozelle House
Manchester City Art Gallery (Rutherston Collection)
Merton College, Oxford;
National Museum of Wales, Cardiff
National Portrait Gallery, London
National Westminster Bank Contemporary Art Collection, Manchester
New College, Oxford
Norwich Castle Museum
Nuffield College, Oxford
Oldham Art Gallery
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
Pembroke College, Oxford
Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, London
Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery
Plymouth City Art Gallery
Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh
Royal Institute British Architects, London
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
Shell-Mex Limited, London
Somerville College, University of Oxford
The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds
Southampton Art Gallery
Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne
Tate Gallery, London
Wakefield City Art Gallery
Art Collection, University of Stirling
University of Warwick
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Public collections (international)
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, US
Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico, US
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada
Art Museum, University of Texas at Austin, US
Brooklyn Museum, New York, US
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US
Frederick R Weisman Foundation, Los Angeles, US
London Art Gallery, Ontario, Canada
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, US
Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina, US
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada
Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montreal, Canada
Museum of Art, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, US
Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, US
Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, US
Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, US
Boymans-van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal
Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, Amsterdam, Netherlands,
University of Galway, Ireland
Ohnishi Museum, Kogawa Prefecture, Japan
Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Power Gallery of Contemporary Art, Sydney University, Australia
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
Photographs of Patrick Heron
The wrong portrait of Patrick Heron was published in Adrian Clark's book (British and Irish Art 1945–1951: From War to Festival, Hogarth Arts, 2010. Portraits of the artist Patrick Heron can be found at the National Portrait Gallery.
- Gooding, Mel (2014) . Patrick Heron. London: Phaidon. p.225. ISBN 978-0-7148-3444-3
- Gooding, Mel. Heron, Patrick (1920–1999). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/71796.
- McNay, Michael (1999-03-22). "The colour of genius". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- Gooding, Mel. "Patrick Heron". Phaidon. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- McNay, Michael (2002). Patrick Heron. St Ives Artists. London: Tate Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 1-85437-310-2.
- "Patrick Heron | Waddington Custot". Waddington Custot. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- Lopatin, Marc (1999-03-21). "Patrick Heron, abstract painter, dies aged 79". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- Peart Binns, John S.; Heron, Giles (2001). Rebel and Sage: a biography of Tom Heron 1890–1983. Pentland Press. ISBN 1-85821-867-5.
- Crysede, Hazel Berriman (1993). The Unique Textile Designs of Alec Walker. Truro: Royal Institution of Cornwall. p. 24.
- Gooding, Mel (2014) . Patrick Heron. London: Phaidon. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-7148-3444-3.
- Sylvester, David (editor) (1998). Patrick Heron. London: Tate Gallery Publishing. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-85437-250-5.
- Darling, Elizabeth (2012). Wells Coates. London: RIBA.
- Buder, Stanley (1990). Visionaries and Planners: The Garden City Movement and the Modern Community. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 112, 121.
- Reiss, Celia. R. L. Reiss - A Memoir.
- SILVER END CONSERVATION AREA APPRAISAL. Braintree District Council. 2014. p. 11.
- McNay, Michael (2002). Patrick Heron. St Ives Artists. London: Tate Publishing. p. 17. ISBN 1-85437-310-2.
- Checkland, Sarah Jane (2000). Ben Nicholson: The Vicious Circles of His Life and Art. London: John Murray. ISBN 978-0719554568.
- Gooding, Mel (2014) . Patrick Heron. London: Phaidon. pp. 26, 57. ISBN 978-0-7148-3444-3.
- Sylvester, David (editor) (1998). Patrick Heron. London: Tate Gallery Publishing. p. 161. ISBN 978-1-85437-250-5.
- "Professor Katharine Heron of the University of Westminster is awarded an MBE". www.westminster.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
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- McNay, Michael (2002). Patrick Heron. St Ives Artists. London: Tate Publishing. p. 35. ISBN 1-85437-310-2.
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- "Patrick Heron: Abstract Expressionist Painter, St Ives School". www.visual-arts-cork.com. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- Gooding, Mel (2014) . Patrick Heron. London: Phaidon. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7148-3444-3.
- Sylvester, David (editor) (1998). Patrick Heron. London: Tate Gallery Publishing. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-85437-250-5.
- Gooding, Mel (2014) . Patrick Heron. London: Phaidon. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-7148-3444-3.
- Gooding, Mel (2014) . Patrick Heron. London: Phaidon. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-7148-3444-3.
- Gooding, Mel (2014) . Patrick Heron. London: Phaidon. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-7148-3444-3.
- "Patrick Heron: Studies for a portrait of T.S. Eliot - National Portrait Gallery". www.npg.org.uk. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- Tate. "'Azalea Garden : May 1956', Patrick Heron, 1956 | Tate". Tate. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- Bowness, Alan (1968). Patrick Heron: A Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings 1957–1966. Oxford: Museum of Modern Art. p. 2.
- Cole, Ina (October 2012). "Patrick Heron: The Colour Magician". Art Times.
- Bowness, Alan ‘On Patrick Heron's Stripe Paintings’, in Patrick Heron: A Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings 1957–1966, Oxford: Museum of Modern Art, 1968, p.2; [reprinted in ‘Selected Writings on Patrick Heron' in Patrick Heron, London: Tate Gallery Publishing, 1998, ISBN 978-1-85437-250-5, pp.135-136]
- Gayford, Martin (1998). "An Interview with Patrick Heron". In Sylvester, David. Patrick Heron. London: Tate Gallery Publishing. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-85437-250-5.
- Tate. "'Scarlet, Lemon and Ultramarine : March 1957', Patrick Heron, 1957 | Tate". Tate. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- Heron, Patrick (December 1969). "Colour in my Painting: 1969". Studio International. pp. 204–5.
- Tate. "'Cadmium with Violet, Scarlet, Emerald, Lemon and Venetian : 1969', Patrick Heron, 1969 | Tate". Tate. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- Gooding, Mel (2014) . Patrick Heron. London: Phaidon. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-7148-3444-3.
- "Patrick Heron artist of Intoxicating colour, form, and meandering line". arttimesjournal.com. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- Wilson, Andrew (2001). Patrick Heron: Early and Late Garden Paintings. London: Tate Publishing. p. 15.
- "Patrick Heron Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Waddington Custot.
- Wilson, Andrew. Patrick Heron: Early and Late Garden Paintings. London: Tate Publishing. p. 17.
- "Exhibition: Patrick Heron 'Big Paintings 1994'". Camden Arts Centre. 1994.
- Feary, Julian; Tooby, Michael (1999). Colour in Space: Patrick Heron – Public Projects. St Ives: Tate Gallery St Ives.
- McNay, Michael (2002). Patrick Heron. St Ives Artists. London: Tate Publishing. p. 67. ISBN 1-85437-310-2.
- Sylvester, David (editor) (1998). Patrick Heron. London: Tate Gallery Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85437-250-5.
- McNay, Michael (2002). Patrick Heron. St Ives Artists. London: Tate Publishing. p. 74. ISBN 1-85437-310-2.
- McNay, Michael (2002). Patrick Heron. St Ives Artists. London: Tate Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 1-85437-310-2.
- Georges Braque letter to Patrick Heron, 25 November 1955
- Gooding, Mel (2014) . Patrick Heron. London: Phaidon. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-7148-3444-3.
- Gooding, Mel (ed.) (1998). Painter as Critic, Patrick Heron: Selected Writings. London: Tate Gallery Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85437-258-1.
- Sylvester, David (editor) (1998). Patrick Heron. London: Tate Gallery Publishing. p. 170. ISBN 978-1-85437-250-5.
- Sylvester, David (editor) (1998). Patrick Heron. London: Tate Gallery Publishing. p. 162. ISBN 978-1-85437-250-5.
- Sylvester, David (editor) (1998). Patrick Heron. London: Tate Gallery Publishing. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-85437-250-5.
- Gooding, Mel (2014) . Patrick Heron. London: Phaidon. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-7148-3444-3.
- Bell, Gordon; Heron, Patrick (1996). Patrick Heron on Art and Education. Leeds: University College Bretton Hall. ISBN 0-9524693-5-9.
- Sylvester, David (editor) (1998). Patrick Heron. London: Tate Gallery Publishing. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-85437-250-5.
- Gooding, Mel (2014) . Patrick Heron. London: Phaidon. ISBN 978-0-7148-3444-3.
- Gooding, Mel (2014) . Patrick Heron. London: Phaidon. pp. 262–263. ISBN 978-0-7148-3444-3.
- "Patrick Heron - Discover Artworks". Art UK. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- "Patrick Heron". Patrick Heron portraits. National Portrait Gallery.
- "Patrick Heron artworks". Tate. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- Simon, Robin (2010-09-20). "Patrick Heron? Which Patrick Heron?". the british art blog. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- "Patrick Heron - Person - National Portrait Gallery". www.npg.org.uk. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- Artcyclopedia entry
- Tate Biography
- artcornwall.org on-line journal for art and artists in Cornwall
- http://robinsimononart.blogspot.com/2010/09/patrick-heron-which-patrick-heron.html">the British art blog: Patrick Heron? Which Patrick Heron?