Patrick Heron U.K., 1920-1999


Patrick Heron was a British abstract and figurative artist, designer and writer. His early paintings were influenced by Braque, Bonnard, Cézanne and Matisse. Matisse’s use of colour harmonies and notion of creating all areas of a canvas of equal importance, influenced Heron’s work greatly throughout his career in both his early figurative work and later abstract paintings. 


Heron turned to abstraction in 1956, follwing his move to Zennor, Cornwall, where he became a member of the St. Ives School, alongside Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Peter Lanyon, Joh Wells, Roger Hilton, Bryan Wynter, Terry Frost, Alexander Mackenzie and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. Heron began to create abstract work inspired by Tachisme and Abstract Expressionism and soon became recognised as one of the leading painters of the St Ives School. 


During this period, Heron’s abstract works were varied and his compositions ranged from stripe paintings to more loose settings with soft-edged shapes. He continued to work with lighter palettes and looser brushstrokes later in life. However, all of Heron’s work is notable for its vibrant colour. Light and colour defined much of Heron’s work. In Heron’s notable lecture in 1973, ’The Shape of Colour’, he argued that colour and shape were inseparable from each other, and had stated that his “main interest, in my painting, has always been in colour, space and light”. Alan Bowness had described Heron’s stripe paintings as being ‘stuffed with light and colour and full of a positive  life-enhancing quality so free and so refreshing.


Heron had studied at Slade School of Fine Art, London, between 1938 to 1939, and was as highly acclaimed as a writer as well as an artist. He regularly wrote for The New English Weekly and The New Statesman, Nation, Arts New York. and his contribution to art and writing played a key role in spreading modernist ideas in Post-War Britain.