Bernard Cohen

Early Mutation Green No. II


Not on display

Bernard Cohen born 1933
Oil paint and enamel paint on canvas
Support: 1835 × 2134 mm
Presented by E.J. Power through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1962

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

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Catalogue entry

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

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