Albert Irvin RA OBE RWA (Hon) was one of Britain’s most important post-war artists and is best known for his large-scale abstract colourist paintings. He was born in London on the 21st August 1922 and died on the 26 March 2015. At the age of 18 he was he was evacuated from London during World War II, to study at the Northampton School of Art between 1940 and 1941, before being conscripted into the Royal Air Force as a navigator. When the war was over, he resumed his course at Goldsmiths College from 1946 to 1950, where he would later go on to teach between 1962 and 1983.
This from the Guardian’s obituary of Bert puts it all rather well “The artist Albert Irvin, who has died aged 92, created an extraordinary body of abstract paintings, watercolours and prints. His work became prominent in the reinvigoration of British painting in the 1980s and 90s, and latterly became familiar through wide exhibition and reproduction. He made colour sweep and spray over pictorial areas that give the illusion of depth, created by complex and dynamic marks and gestures of the handheld brush. He often took on a grand scale, but also created brilliant and beautifully crafted works on paper.”
His breakthrough period began with a revelatory exhibition at the Acme Gallery in London in 1980, and in that year’s Hayward Annual, selected by John Hoyland. A touring exhibition in 1983 in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Birmingham surveyed his work from the previous seven years. Gimpel Fils Gallery in London began to show his work. Irvin’s art finally found a wide audience. Significant exhibitions in Ireland, Australia and at the Serpentine Gallery, London, secured his reputation. He became an RA in 1998.
The present work purchased directly from Gimpel Fils, comes from arguably his most seminal period, the late great years of Britain’s foremost painter of colour.
His work is widely exhibited both in the UK and abroad, in such places as Arts Council of Great Britain, Birmingham City Art Gallery, the Chase Manhattan Bank, the Contemporary Art Society, Manchester City Art Gallery, Whitworth Gallery Manchester, Leeds City Gallery Tate Britain, the Victoria and Albert Museum Oxford University, Cambridge University and Warwick University Arts Centre. Irvin was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to the visual arts.