Peter Lanyon (British 1918-1964)

English painter and sculptor. Lanyon’s work is central to any assessment of St Ives painting, since he experienced at first hand the invigorating influence of Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo, when they moved to St Ives in 1939. After World War II he was actively involved with the Crypt Group and the Penwith School of Art.

Lanyon chose to make more direct reference to the local landscape than Gabo or Hepworth. Visual and structural information concerning this Cornish fishing harbour was combined with figurative suggestion in the final painting.

Lanyon talked about exploring vertiginous edges such as ‘the junction of sea and cliff, wind and cliff, the human body and places’, and in 1959 began gliding. The tactile surfaces and compact, enclosed forms of his work of the early 1950s began to expand into a new flowing style on an increased scale, encouraged by his knowledge of Abstract Expressionism.

Lanyon’s prints  related to his paintings and their themes. He produced linocuts, monotypes, etchings and lithographs . Ground Wind (lithograph, 1961; see 1981 exh. cat., no. 75), based on his gliding experiences, depicts the merging land, sea and sky; by drawing the image directly on to the lithographic stone, Lanyon achieved a freer treatment of the subject.

(Tate Gallery)

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