Alastair Morton

Opus 15 (Light Blue and Yellow)


Not on display

Alastair Morton 1910–1963
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 686 × 991 mm
Purchased 1973

Display caption

During the 1930s, Alastair Morton's principal activity was as director of the innovative fabric design company Edinburgh Weavers, who commissioned designs from several avant-garde artists. In 1936 he began painting, an activity which was for him 'a personal and private intellectual exercise, pursuing ideas of form and colour'. His interest in such abstract values is reflected in the anonymous title that invites comparison with pieces of music, the one art form which does not depend on the real world for its content.

Gallery label, August 2004

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry

Alastair Morton 1910–1963

T01776 Opus 15 (Light Blue and Yellow) 1938

Inscribed ‘A.J.F.M./No. 15/1938’ on reverse.
Canvas, 27 39 (68.6 99).
Purchased from Anthony d’Offay (Grant-in-Aid) 1973.
Coll: Mrs Cherry Morton, the artist’s widow; Anthony d’Offay.
Exh: British Art and The Modern Movement 1930–40, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, October–November 1962 (132) as ‘Blue Over White’; Abbot Hall Gallery, Kendal, March–April 1964 and subsequent tour to Tullie House, Carlisle, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, and Victoria and Albert Museum (73) as ‘Blue Over White’; Art in Britain Centred Around Axis, Circle, Unit One, Marlborough Fine Art, March–April 1965 (100).

Alastair Morton began painting in 1936 and numbered each work consecutively as he finished it until 1940 when he adopted a three digit numbering system. ‘Opus 15’ has the alternative title ‘Blue Over White’ under which it is listed in the catalogue of the Cardiff exhibition held during the artist’s lifetime (1962), and at the subsequent memorial exhibitions held at Kendal, Carlisle, Manchester and London, although it is not known why he re-named it. He began to compile a book to record his paintings and although unfinished ‘Opus 15’ is listed in it as ‘No. 15.1938 Light blue and yellow’ (letter from Mrs Cherry Morton to the compiler 9 May 1974).

The artist’s widow Mrs Cherry Morton wrote (letter, 19 April 1974) ‘Alastair was rather reticent about his painting and disliked what he called “art jargon”. To him it was a very personal and private intellectual exercise, pursuing ideas of form and colour.’

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.


You might like

In the shop