- Albert Irvin OBE RA 1922–2015
- Oil paint on canvas
- Support: 1268 × 1525 mm
- Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax from the estates of Albert and Betty Irvin and allocated to Tate 2018
Enclosed 1963 is made up of broad, swirling paint marks across a rich field of modulated colour. The dark curls and blocks of paint could be seen as an articulation of a woman’s body, reminiscent of those found in British sculpture of the period by such artists as Kenneth Armitage (1916−2002) and Hubert Dalwood (1924−1976), as well as in paintings by William Scott (1913−1989). Irvin’s primary influence, however, was the painter Peter Lanyon (1918−1964), who he met around 1957 through the artist Nancy Wynne-Jones, a student of Lanyon’s in St Ives.
Lanyon provided a model for Irvin’s development of a gestural mode of painting aligned with ‘action painting’, a notion introduced by the American critic Harold Rosenberg in 1952 in which the physical act of painting is emphasised as essential to the finished work. Irvin’s interest in this American movement was further enhanced in 1959 by his transformative experience of seeing the Tate exhibition The New American Painting, an in-depth presentation of abstract expressionism. In that show he would have seen examples of Willem de Kooning’s (1904−1997) Woman series which may have had a direct influence on a work such as Enclosed. The exact intention behind the title of the work is not clear.
Albert Irvin was one of the leading exponents of a language of expressive abstract painting that emerged in Britain in the wake of the American abstract expressionists − first seen in any depth in London in 1956 − and of their British peers. Irvin first emerged as a public artist in the 1960s, with his first solo exhibitions being in Edinburgh in 1960 followed by two more at the New Art Centre, London, in 1961 and 1963. From the late 1970s he secured a broader reputation for large, brightly coloured, expansive compositions.
Paul Moorhouse, Albert Irvin: Life to Painting, London 1998.
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