Patrick Heron, Art Critic: Exploring the Limits of Abstraction

A R T L▼R K

9780714834443On the 20th of March 1999, iconic English artist, textile designer and critic Patrick Heron died in Zennor, Cornwall, aged 79. Heron is best remembered for his semi-abstract paintings featuring vibrant colourful compositions inspired by nature. Less known perhaps is his career as an art critic to the New Statesman and Nation in 1947–50, and London correspondent to Arts (New York) in 1955–8. Although the artist turned to abstract art under the influence of American abstract painting in 1956, in his criticism he wrote extensively about the distinction between two approaches to abstraction, which, even though stylistically similar, diverged from the point of view of the subject. As early as 1949, Heron had made a distinction between the ‘pure’ Mondrianesque abstraction of the 1930s and a highly individual abstract-figurative vision, which, nevertheless, relied on the perception of the outside world:

“Most purely abstract artists believe that the plastic work of art should…

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