Patrick Heron

Green and Purple Painting with Blue Disc : May 1960


Not on display

Patrick Heron 1920–1999
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1219 × 1524 mm
frame: 1230 × 1535 × 38 mm
Purchased 1960

Display caption

In this work, an irregular blue disc hovers in front of a field of green and purple, seeming to expand and contract within the flat picture plane. Even when he eliminated recognisable subject matter, Heron’s abstractions stemmed from his observations of the visual world. He denied that he consciously painted ‘landscapes’, but affirmed: ‘the enormously powerful rhythmic energies of the granite outcrops beneath my feet transmit certain rhythms straight up through the soles of my shoes every minute of the day.’

Gallery label, May 2007

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Catalogue entry

Inscr. on back, ‘Patrick Heron’.
Canvas, 48×60 (122×152).
Purchased from the Waddington Galleries (Knapping Fund) 1960.
Exh: Waddington Galleries, November–December 1960 (16, repr.).
Repr: Apollo, LXXII, 1960, p.204; Arts, XXXV, Nos.8–9, 1961, p.54.

The artist wrote (18 December 1960): 'As to “the theme” of my picture - I'm afraid I can't say more than that it is a confirmation of my usual pursuit. I have always been obsessed with space in colour. I even held an exhibition (it was an anthology of the works of 10 painters (including myself) whom I invited) at the Hanover Gallery in 1953 which I christened Space in Colour. I wrote an essay with this title for the catalogue: and this later appeared in my book The Changing Forms of Art as a separate chapter.

‘The blue disc, with the round-cornered square of a different blue inside it, hovers in front of the purple & green ground - but, at the same time, it recedes behind that ground. I believe this ambiguity is a characteristic of all pictorial spatial features which depend mainly on colour: they both advance and recede at the same time. My blue disc can be seen to breathe, almost; to expand & contract, under your gaze, as it were.’

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

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