Artist biography

English painter and sculptor. He was taught drawing and watercolour painting as a child by his maternal grandmother but otherwise received no formal artistic training. In 1957 he moved to St Ives, Cornwall, where he painted and made pots. In 1959 he made his first ‘field' images (see 1978 exh. cat., figs B, C and D), mystically minimalist records of his response to the natural environment, which set the pattern for all his subsequent work. Between 1961 and 1964 he extended these into Metaphysical Field Paintings (see 1978 exh. cat., fig. L) incorporating hieroglyphic symbols. The paintings of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman were to prove a particular inspiration to him, as was his exploration of both Eastern and Western philosophy, psychology, palaeontology, poetry and alchemy. In the mid 1960s he instituted a long series of ‘black' paintings, which were his best-known contribution to Minimalism. Although they might at first appear to be dark monochromes, they in fact consist of a subtle layering of different colours in a particular sequence as indicated in titles such as No. 88 Black Black Blue Violet (1974; Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus.). From 1978 he concentrated primarily on sculpture, with which he had experimented briefly in the early 1960s.

Bibliography
Bob Law: 10 Black Paintings, 1965–70 (exh. cat., Oxford, MOMA, 1974) [interview with Richard Cork]
Bob Law: Paintings & Drawings, 1959–78 (exh. cat. by S. Nairne, London, Whitechapel A.G., 1978)

MONICA BOHM-DUCHEN

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