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Patrick Heron, 1920–1999, British

Three Cadmiums

Oil on canvas
Support (PTG): 60 x 72 inches (152.4 x 182.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Copyright Status:
© Estate of the Artist
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
abstract art | brushstrokes | cadmium | color | red
On view

Patrick Heron was not only a leading abstract painter but a talented and forthright art critic who championed such contemporaries as Keith Vaughan and Roger Hilton. Heron’s conversion to fully abstract painting came about in 1956, shortly after the influential exhibition Modern Art in the United States opened at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. The shift from figuration to abstraction brought with it "a sense of freedom quite denied me while I had to keep half an eye on a ‘subject,’" said Heron. Nevertheless, he criticized the dominance of the New York art market and became an ardent advocate for British modernism. Three Cadmiums exemplifies his ambition to establish a "purely visual experience" through a bold use of color and simplified forms. The use of bright red may be intended as an homage to Heron’s favorite painting: Henri Matisse’s The Red Studio of 1911 (MoMA, New York).

Gallery Label for installation of YCBA collection, 2020

Alan Bowness, Contemporary British Painting, Praeger, New York, 1968, p. 80, no. 35, ND468 C6 1968 (YCBA)

Sylviane Gold, In the Abstract , a Coastal Scene Materializes, A Review of 'Art in Focus: St. Ives Abstraction’ at Yale Center for British Art , New York Times, New York, July 14, 2013, Metropolitan Section, p. 9, Yale Internet Resource

Mel Gooding, Patrick Heron, Phaidon, Hong Kong, 1994, pp. 174, 184, 185, NJ18 H4482 G66 (YCBA)

Sotheby's sale catalogue : Post War and Contemporary Art in Britain : 11 November 1987, Sotheby's, Sotheby's, London, November 11,1987, lot 286, Auction Catalogues (YCBA)

St Ives abstraction, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2013, pp. 5, 12, 21, V 2475 (YCBA)

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