Peter Lanyon

Peter Lanyon

Peter Lanyon (1918-1964) was a Cornish painter of landscapes leaning heavily towards abstraction. He also made constructions, pottery and collage. Born in St Ives, Cornwall, which remained his base, Lanyon received after-school painting lessons from Borlase Smart. In 1937 he attended Penzance School of Art, and also attended the Euston Road School. From 1940-1945 he served with the Royal Air Force. During the 1950s he became established as a leading figure in the St. Ives group of artists. He died in Taunton, Somerset, as the result of injuries received in a gliding accident; his death was a severe blow to Cornish painting.

1918 Born 8 February in St Ives, Cornwall, only son of W H Lanyon, amateur photographer and musician. Educated at St Erbyn's School, Penzance and Clifton College 1936-37 Studied at the Penzance School of Art 1937 Met Adrian Stokes who probably gave him his first introduction to contemporary painting and sculpture and who advised him to go to the Euston Road School 1938 Studied at Euston Road School for four months under Victor Pasmore 1939 Meet Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo who had moved to St Ives on the outbreak of war and received private art tuition from Ben Nicholson.

The character of his work changed completely and he became very involved with making constructions. Throughout the forties the influence of Nicholson and Gabo remained strongly visible in his work 1940-45 Served in the Royal Air Force in the Western Desert, Palestine and Italy. 1946 Married Sheila St John Browne Six children born between 1947 and 1957. 1946-47 Active member of the Crypt Group of Artists, St Ives. 1948 Travelled around Italy in the summer. 1949 Founder member of Penwith Society of Arts in Cornwall.

First one-man exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery, London 1950. Began teaching at the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham (until 1957) where William Scott was senior painting master Invited by Arts Council to contribute to their Festival of Britain exhibition 1953. Spent four months living in Italy on Italian government scholarship Elected member of the Newlyn Society of Artists. 1954 Awarded Critics Prize, by the British section of the International Association of Art Critics. 1957-60 Ran art school, St Peter's Loft at St Ives with Terry Frost and William Redgrave. 1957 Visited New York for his first one-man show there, with Catherine Viviano Gallery and met Rothko, Motherwell and other artists, critics and collectors. He greatly admired the new American painting he saw both in Tate's exhibition 'Modern Art in the United States' and on his trip to New York. Rothko's work particularly thrilled him.

While Lanyon was becoming increasingly conscious of the English landscape tradition American art speeded his development towards a looser and more open kind of painting. In 1959 he was awarded second prize, 2nd John Moores Exhibition, Liverpool. He began gliding, as he explained 'to get a more complete knowledge of the landscape'. In 1961 he was elected Chairman of the Newlyn Society of Artists, Cornwall and was elected a Bard of the Gorseth Kernow for services to Cornish art. In 1962 he spent seven months painting mural commissioned for house of Stanley J Seeger, New Jersey. In 1963 he spent three months as visiting painter, San Antonio Art Institute, Texas, also visiting Mexico. In 1964 he visited Prague and Bratislava to lecture for the British Council. Peter Lanyon died 31 August at Taunton, as a result of injuries received in a gliding accident.

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