Peter Sedgley

Yellow Attenuation


Acrylic paint on board
Support: 1219 x 1219 mm
Purchased 1965

Catalogue entry

Peter Sedgley b. 1930

T00739 Yellow Attenuation 1965

Inscr. on back, ‘Yellow Attenuation Peter Sedgley 1965’.
Emulsion on hardboard (painted on edges), 48 x 48 (122 x 122).
Purchased from McRoberts and Tunnard (Knapping Fund) 1965.
Exh: McRoberts and Tunnard, March–April 1965 (1).

The artist wrote (13 July 1965): ‘“Yellow Attenuation” was painted in February 1965 and begun also in that month, altho’ a great deal of the preliminary work and some studies were prepared in 1964. My work is of a serial nature, i.e. each painting follows the next as a deliberate attempt to develop and expand visual media, at the same time embodying skill and understanding established in preceding work—“Yellow Attenuation”, then, was painted as a critical contribution to the body of my work.

‘… I use a scale of colours from which I do not depart, except to reaffirm the position of any colour as central in the scale, or perhaps to adjust slightly for a finer value. However, this would be done prior to proceeding with a painting. As with the chromatic steps from yellow to violet I have established a tonal range following the chromatic order so that a pure colour can be equated tonally with a mutated colour (example: pure yellow—pale (mutated) violet). It is this method of establishing a scale, use of measurement, progression, development with final decision and adjustment by the artist which evokes the musical analogy ... I do not however have any technical knowledge of music but believe that contemporary painting is adopting a position that music has occupied for a considerable time in this way.

‘In “Yellow Attenuation” the primaries Yellow, Red & Blue are used throughout in pure hue. The field or ground of the painting is yellow—the one yellow. I selected this as a static colour which was then to be modulated by red & blue. I have found that critical areas of blue and yellow produce a bleaching of the yellow whereas with red yellow undergoes little or no change. My colour theory leads me to suspect that red is compatible with yellow but blue inhibits yellow.

‘To embody this activity in a painting, featuring the blue interaction, I programmed a movement where red/yellow was progressively displaced by blue/yellow with red/blue throughout (occurring as unifying dark bands). This is rather a simplified description since the steps arriving at this conclusion are embodied in much of my early work and theory.’

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1964–1965, London 1966.