Press Release

Michael Andrews

Tate Britain
19 July – 7 October 2001

In July, Tate Britain will present a major exhibition of the paintings of Michael Andrews. It will be the first comprehensive survey of Andrews’s entire career, with over ninety works on loan from public and private collections in Europe, the USA and Australia. Though Andrews did not exhibit widely during his lifetime his friend the painter Frank Auerbach observed that he ‘only ever painted masterpieces’.

Michael Andrews (1928-1995) first became celebrated in the early 1960s for his series of paintings recording his fascination with the bohemian party lifestyle. The Colony Room 1962, The Deer Park 1962 and All Night Long 1963-4 (the last lent by the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne) are extraordinary images from the era of Swinging London. The exhibition includes all his major series of paintings, notably Lights from the 1970s, where the transcendent journey of a balloon becomes a metaphor for the self, Schools (1977-82), depicting exotic fish, the dramatic paintings of Ayers Rock (1985-88) and the final, elegiac works depicting the River Thames.

Andrews studied at the Slade School of Art from 1949-53 and lived variously in Norfolk and London. He described painting as ‘the most marvellous, elaborate way of making up my mind’ and his mature vision is characterised by deliberation combined with painstaking technical virtuosity and great depth of understanding of his subject. His paintings of people explore human behaviour and relationships and mark Andrews as one of the late twentieth century’s great painters of portraits and modern conversation pieces. His landscapes go beyond straightforward description, touching on the individual’s relationship with his surroundings, and invoking ideas concerning time, history and memory.

The work ranges in scale from the intimate to the majestic, and Andrews employed techniques in which careful preparation and the effects of chance are fused. His imagery evolved from various sources, including drawing from life, photography, the cinema and memory. In his work Andrews rose to the challenges facing the painter at the end of the twentieth century. This exhibition will confirm him as one of the most individual of post-war British painters.

The exhibition is curated by William Feaver, writer and critic, and Paul Moorhouse, Tate Collection Curator. A fully-illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Opening hours: 10.00 - 17.50 Last admission 17.00.