Catalogue entry

T00375 THERMAL 1960

Inscr. ‘Lanyon 60’ b.l. and on back ‘Thermal Lanyon 1960’.
Canvas, 72×60 (183×152·5).
Purchased from Gimpel Fils (Grant-in-Aid) 1960.
Exh: Gimpel Fils, October–November 1960 (7, repr. slightly cut at top and bottom).

To a suggestion that a number of the paintings included in the 1960 Gimpel Fils exhibition were partly inspired by the experience of gliding, the artist replied (28 November 1960): ‘The majority of paintings in the show came directly out of experience in fluids or in the air - i.e. water or weather conditions....

‘The experience in “Thermal” does not only refer to glider flight. It belongs to pictures which I have done before, e.g. “Bird-wind”, and which are concerned with birds describing the invisible, their flight across cliff faces and their soaring activity. I have discovered since I began gliding that the activity is more general than I had guessed. The air is a very definite world of activity as complex and demanding as the sea....

‘The thermal itself is a current of hot air rising and eventually condensing into cloud. It is invisible and can only be apprehended by an instrument such as a glider.... The basic source of all soaring flight is the thermal - hot air rising from the ground as a large bubble.

‘The picture refers to cloud formation and to a spiral rising activity which is the way a glider rises in an up-current. There is also a reference to storm conditions and down-currents. These are all things that arise in connection with thermals.’

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