Spotlight. Albert Irvin. Whitford Fine Art

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It was not until after visiting The New American Painting exhibition at the Tate in 1959 that British artist Albert Irvin (1922-2015) would completely embrace Abstract Expressionism. It was the last, and most important, in a series of exhibitions held during the late 1950s that explored the bold new art emerging across the Atlantic and it came at a crucial time for Irvin in terms of his artistic development. In 1957, he had become involved with the St Ives Group, forming relationships with artists such as Terry Frost, Sandra Blow, Trevor Bell and, most importantly, Peter Lanyon. The latter challenged Irvin to question his reliance on the figurative and his sharp, bristling form of social realism. Lanyon encouraged him instead to imbue the gesture, the very action of painting, with a fullness of experience and feeling and to consider this a thing unto itself. It is no wonder that the American works in the 1959 exhibition, entirely abstract and so powerful in their sheer scale and uncompromising emphasis on personal experience, had an immediate and profound impact on Irvin.

Text: Whitford Fine Art

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