Peter Lanyon (1918-1964)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more Property from an Estate
Peter Lanyon (1918-1964)

Sea Going

Peter Lanyon (1918-1964)
Sea Going
signed and dated 'Lanyon 61' (lower right), signed and dated again, and inscribed 'SEA GOING Lanyon, Nov 61' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
60 x 48 in. (152.4 x 121.9 cm.)
Painted in 1961.
with Gimpel Fils, London.
Private Collection, USA.
with Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, London, where purchased by the present owner.
A. Causey, Peter Lanyon, Oxfordshire, 1971, p. 64, no. 169.
London, Gimpel Fils, Peter Lanyon, October 1962. no. 4.
London, Arts Council of Great Britain, Tate Gallery, Peter Lanyon, May - June 1968, no. 72: this exhibition travelled to Plymouth, City Museum and Art Gallery, July - August; Newcastle Upon Tyne, Laing Art Gallery, August; Birmingham, City Museum and Art Gallery, September; and Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, October.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.
Sale room notice
Please note the additional exhibition information:
Birmingham, Ikon Gallery, Peter Lanyon: Later Work, September - October 1978, ex-catalogue.

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Lot Essay

'It is impossible for me to make a painting which has no reference to the very powerful environment in which I live. I have to refer back continually to what is under my feet, to what is over my back and to what I see in front of me.'
(Peter Lanyon, recorded interview with Lionel Muskin, 1962)

Lanyon was amongst the first artists in England to recognise the importance of the American Abstract Expressionists. At the time of the 1956 Tate exhibition 'Modern Art in the United States', Lanyon's work was already developing in a broadly similar direction to that of his American counterparts. The boldly expressive paintings he would have seen by de Kooning, Kline, Pollock and Rothko in the final room of the exhibition would have given him confidence in his own conviction. In January 1957, he visited New York for his first one-man exhibition at the Catherine Viviano Gallery. The exhibition was very well received and served as an important platform in forming relationships with the American artists. In fact by the 1960s he was more successful in the United States than in England. Many of his strongest works sold to buyers across the Atlantic to the detriment of his reputation in England.

Lanyon soon became close friends with Motherwell, Rothko and de Kooning. The cross-pollination of ideas and influences has been argued at length, particularly in respect of de Kooning. It would seem the American gained more from the relationship than Lanyon, as the latter's work always remained firmly rooted in the landscape. However, a greater freedom is certainly visible in his work from the late 1950s and at the same time their scale begins to increase. On balance it would be more accurate to classify Lanyon's paintings as 'abstractions' as opposed to the American purely 'abstract' works.

The greatest influence upon Lanyon's work of this period came in 1959 when he took up gliding. His earlier depictions of underground mineshafts and views from cliff tops gave way to soaring views of the entire coast and swells out at sea. Lanyon commented that 'the whole purpose of gliding was to get a more complete knowledge of the landscape, and the pictures now combine the elements of land, sea and sky - earth, air and water. I had always watched birds in flight exploring the landscape, moving more freely than man can, but in a glider I was similarly placed' (Peter Lanyon recorded interview, 1962, reproduced in A. Bowness (intro.), exhibition catalogue, Peter Lanyon, London, Tate Gallery, 1968).

Executed in his most productive year, Sea Going epitomises Lanyon at his expressive best. The intensity at the centre of the composition gives way to calm lighter hues as the viewer is drawn by the swirls of white to the extremes of the canvas. One can interpret the composition as Lanyon escaping the ferociousness of crashing waves as he loops his glider skywards. Through the gestural spontaneity of his brushwork the painting projects a feeling of exhilaration and demonstrates his confidence in his ability. In 1962 Lanyon described the inspiration behind his work from this period, 'Many of my paintings are paintings of weather. I like to paint places where solids and fluids come together, such as the meeting of sea and cliff, of wind and rock, of human body and water, I wasn't satisfied with the tradition of painting landscape from one position only. I wanted to bring together all my feelings about the landscape, and this meant breaking away from the usual method of representing space in a landscape painting - receding like a cone to a vanishing point. I wanted to find a new way of organising the space in a picture' (ibid).

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