Patrick Heron (1920-1999)
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Patrick Heron (1920-1999)

The White Table

Details
Patrick Heron (1920-1999)
The White Table
signed and dated 'P. Heron 52' (lower right)
oil on canvas
28 1/8 x 36 in. (71.5 x 91.4 cm.)
Provenance
The artist's family.
The Neuman Trust.
Literature
Exhibition catalogue, Patrick Heron Early Paintings 1945-1955, London, Waddington Galleries, 2000, p. 52, no. 22, p. 38, illustrated.
Exhibited
London, New Burlington Gallery, London Group: Annual Exhibition, October - November 1952, no. 129.
São Paulo, British Council, Il Bienal do Museu de Arte Moderna, Grà-Bretanha: Esposição de obras de Moore, Richards, Evans, Scott, Gear, Heron, December 1953 - February 1954, no. 128.
London, Waddington Galleries, Patrick Heron Early Paintings 1945-1955, October - November 2000, no. 22.
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Lot Essay

One of the major concerns for Heron during the 1940s and 1950s was the idea of pictorial space and how to convey three-dimensional space on to the flat surface of canvas, and the distortion that this necessarily involved. The paintings he produced in these decades are 'the confident and elegant work of a painter simultaneously exploring the world of light and objects, and the workings of his own eye and brain. He did indeed project a new and wholly distinct species of pictorial space' (see A.S. Byatt (foreword), exhibition catalogue, Patrick Heron Early Paintings 1945-1955, London, Waddington Galleries, 2000).
A major influence on Heron at this time was Braque. An exhibition at the Tate in 1946 had given Heron the opportunity to see at first hand a number of his paintings and inspired him to write on Braque's work. One thing he singled out was Braque's use of lines and that a line defined whatever was to the right and left of the line. He singled out in particular one painting, Grand Intérieur à la Palette, 1942 (exhibited as Intérieur in 1946; The Menil Collection, Houston) describing how the eye dances and swoops round the picture plane, encouraging the viewer to see round and through the forms.

Heron's paintings of these decades are about lines. The subject matter of his paintings are familiar day-to-day objects; table-tops, coffee-pots, plants and bottles. Within this framework he plays with their shapes, squares the circles and links the forms with lines. The tour de force of Heron's work, which grew from these early paintings, was how he used colour to create the spaces he wanted to achieve. These paintings presage his later works where he explores the juxtapositions of colours and through this challenges the pre-conceptions of abstract art.
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