Bernard Cohen

Floris

1964

Medium
Oil paint and tempera on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1830 x 1834 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1969
Reference
T01162

Display caption

This painting was named after the Soho patisserie whose skilled decorations Cohen admired. It was also inspired by the 'enclosed' world of the Arthurian legends. Cohen first painted the small land towards top left then emphasized its perimeter, first by highlighting it with white dots and then by surrounding it by ever wider echoing contours, in red overpainted with black. The outermost of these were reinforced by 'spokes'. Isolated clusters of incident were then painted in the remaining area, the largest being a mass of dark line. Finally, Cohen continued, over these, the ever expanding contours generated by the first shape, before ending the painting in the centre of the spiral at bottom left.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

Bernard Cohen b. 1933
T01162 FLORIS 1964
Inscribed on stretcher ‘OIL/AND/TEMPERA/ON/CANVAS’ and 'BERNARD COHEN October 1964 72"×72".

Canvas, 72×72 (183×183).
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1969.

Coll: Purchased by the Friends of the Tate Gallery from Kasmin Ltd.
Exh: Kasmin Ltd, December 1964 (no numbers); Venice Biennale, 1966 (British Pavilion I, repr. in illustrated catalogue) and European tour.
Repr: Will Grohmann (ed.), Art of our Time, 1960 (pl. 36 in colour, with the top of the painting to the right).

The artist wrote (17 January 1970): 'The only place the painting was exhibited (apart from the Venice show and subsequent European Tour) was at Kasmin's. It hung as the only painting during my large drawing show, December 1964. The reason I put it in the show (actually in the passage) was that there were several drawings for it in the show. I did many drawings for the painting. Several of them were sold and I still have many of them myself.

'Although the painting was never intended as part of a series, there are a group of paintings done between early 1964 and early 1965 that “hold together” for me. A painting called “Romance”, now in the Abrams collection in New York, a large painting called “Pic” that I own, another large one called “Fall” that I own, “When White” owned by the Stuyvesant, “Fable” also owned by the Stuyvesant and “White Plant” owned by myself, make up the group. They were never seen together publicly. When I have my retrospective at the Hayward early in 1972 I hope they will all be seen together. The painting was called “Floris” after the patisserie of Madam Floris (then still alive) in Soho.

‘The technique of the painting is egg tempera and oil paint, parts sprayed, parts painted with a brush. Exactly the same technique as “In that Moment” [Tate Gallery T00800].’

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1968-70, London 1970

Video

Bernard Cohen: Floris 1964

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