PETER LANYON (1918-1964)
PETER LANYON (1918-1964)
PETER LANYON (1918-1964)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
PETER LANYON (1918-1964)

Strange Coast

PETER LANYON (1918-1964)
Strange Coast
signed and dated 'Lanyon/60' (lower right), signed again 'Lanyon' (lower left), signed again, inscribed and dated again 'Lanyon/STRANGE/COAST/Aug: 1960' (on the reverse)
oil on board
45 1⁄2 x 17 1⁄2 in. (115.6 x 44.5 cm.)
Painted in August 1960.
J. Hodson, by 1971.
with Gimpel Fils, London.
with New Art Centre, London.
Lord Croft, by 1982.
His sale; Sotheby's, London, 20 November 1991, lot 192.
Acquired from Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London in January 2002.
S. Bann, 'Art: Peter Lanyon, Ceri Richards, David Boyd', Cambridge Review, Vol. 95, no. 2060, 2 November 1963, p. 87.
A. Causey, Peter Lanyon: His Paintings, Henley-on-Thames, 1971, p. 61, no. 141.
T. Treves, Peter Lanyon: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings and Three Dimensional Works, London, 2018, p. 467, no. 459, illustrated.
London, Gimpel Fils, Recent Paintings by Peter Lanyon, October - November 1960, no. 15.
Cambridge, Arts Council of Great Britain, Arts Council Gallery, Three Contemporary Painters: Peter Lanyon, Henry Mundy, Ceri Richards, October - November 1963, no. 4: this exhibition travelled to King's Lynn, Fermoy Art Gallery, November 1963; Glasgow, City Art Gallery, December 1963; Nottingham, Midland Group Gallery, January 1964; and Cheltenham, City Art Gallery February - March 1964.
Torpoint, Sheviock Gallery, Peter Lanyon Paintings: John Milne Sculpture, April - June 1970, catalogue not traced.
London, Austin Reed Gallery, St Ives Group: 3rd Exhibition, 1971, no. 25.
Birmingham, Ikon Gallery, Peter Lanyon: Later Work, September - October 1978, no. 12.
London, Gimpel Fils, Accrocharge I, 1979, exhibition not numbered, catalogue not traced.
London, Gimpel Fils, Accrocharge II, 1979, exhibition not numbered, catalogue not traced.
Sydney, Art of Man Gallery, 1980, no. 2, catalogue not traced.
Sydney, Annandale Galleries, David Bomberg, Peter Lanyon, Ivon Hitchens, 2000, no. 5, catalogue not traced.
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.

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Amelia Walker
Amelia Walker Director, Specialist Head of Private Collections

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Lot Essay

1960 was the year in which gliding became a major source of inspiration for Lanyon. In June he made Solo Flight (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh) and Cross Country, and about the same time he painted Rosewall (Ulster Museum, Belfast), Soaring Flight (Arts Council Collection) and Thermal (Tate Gallery) – five superb gliding paintings. He made several other paintings based on his experience of gliding that year, of which Strange Coast, painted in August, is almost certainly one.

Flight afforded Lanyon a new and strange perspective on his native Cornwall. It gave him a different vantage point on to a place he had previously only known at ground level and, more importantly, it led to his discovery of the immense and powerful forces that live inside the sky. The latter changed Lanyon’s understanding of the land. A cliff was transformed from being a sheer vertical rock face into a steady source of upward air that could support a glider in flight for hours on end; a town was a place of warm air and its edges a possible site of thermals that could lift the half-ton aircraft thousands of feet into the sky; a field became a landmark; a telegraph-wire a hazard.

Perranporth, the Cornish airfield from which he flew, lies directly above a cliff. Consequently, the coast figured strongly in Lanyon’s experience of flight. In Strange Coast there are hints of land and sea in the patches of green and blue, some of which are only glimpsed where he scraped back the brushy swathes of paler cloud colours to the painting’s ground.

If gliding was the source of Strange Coast, it was not necessarily the subject, or at least not the only one. Like many romantic artists, Lanyon thought of the landscape as a metaphor for feelings and ideas, and much of his work can be interpreted in that way. It is well known that he thought of the sea as male and the land as female, and the coast as being the place of their erotic and fertile encounter. Strange Coast, which can be thought of in this way too, contains a secret that may have been intended to deepen such a reading. Throughout his life Lanyon recycled canvases of works that he had abandoned, but only very rarely did he paint over a work that he had exhibited. Strange Coast is the only example among his post-war paintings where this is known to have happened. The picture is painted on top of a painting entitled Via Saracinesco, which he made in 1958 and exhibited at Gimpel Fils that year. He had visited the Italian hill town with his lover Susan Hunt in the spring of 1957 and told her that when they died their souls would meet above Saracinesco. A remnant of the earlier signature and date can be seen at the lower left of Strange Coast, and where Lanyon scraped through the upper layer of paint in that painting he perhaps revealed a personal subtext in the underlying surface of Via Saracinesco.

We are very grateful to Toby Treves for preparing this catalogue entry.

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