Bernard Cohen

Early Mutation Green No. II

1960

On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Oil paint and enamel paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1835 x 2134 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by E.J. Power through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1962
Reference
T00510

Display caption

Cohen was one of a group of artists whose work was affected by the size and simplicity of recent American painting. Here contrasting forms create a sense of the process of change suggested by the word ‘mutation’ in the title. Cohen has juxtaposed the geometrical shapes of the arch and circles with the amorphous quality of the form at the bottom of the canvas. The visual relationship between these two elements is the subject of the painting; something prescribed and geometric is undermined by the intrusion of something apparently random and informal.

Gallery label, September 2016

Catalogue entry

T00510 EARLY MUTATION GREEN NO. II 1960
 
Inscr. on back of canvas ‘Bernard Cohen Early Mutation Green No.II 72×84 IV Feb. 1960’.
Oil and Ripolin on canvas, 72 1/4×84 (183·5×113·5).
Presented by E.J. Power 1962.
Coll: Purchased by E.J. Power from Gimpel Fils 1960.
Exh: Gimpel Fils, July–August 1960 (5).

The artist wrote (n.d., May 1962) that this picture was painted during the early months of 1960. ‘The word mutation in the title of my painting refers to the image that results from the crossing of two quite different types of structure, e.g. the rigid, easily remembered, static structure of the façade of the painting and the amorphous gestural structure of the flash at the bottom of the painting. I have for a long time found the idea of the mutation, a form that is unique and that cannot re-create itself, to be very interesting, seen in relationship to painting.’

‘Early Mutation Green No.1’ (the same size as this work) was No.4 in the 1960 exhibition, which also included a number of other variations on the mutation theme.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

Video

Bernard Cohen: Early Mutation Green No. II 1960

Research interview Andrew Wilson (Curator of Modern & Contemporary British Art) and Patricia Smithen (Head of Conservation Programme) interview Bernard ...

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