PATRICK HERON (1920-1999)
PATRICK HERON (1920-1999)
PATRICK HERON (1920-1999)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE ROBERT AND SHIRLEY ROBINS
PATRICK HERON (1920-1999)

3 REDS : 1967

PATRICK HERON (1920-1999)
3 REDS : 1967
signed, inscribed and dated 'PATRICK/HERON/3 REDS : 1967' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
38 1/4 x 48 1/8 in. (97 x 122 cm.)
Painted in 1967.
Acquired directly from the artist by Mr Robins by February 1970, and by descent.
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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Lot Essay

Patrick Heron was one of Britain's most significant colourist painters as well as that rare breed, an artist and critic, who could contribute to the development of, as well as the understanding of, abstract painting. His startling experimentations in colour and the physical presence of his painting, on a grand scale, set him among the most visually stimulating British artists of the 20th Century. 3 Reds : 1967, is a work from Heron's maturity by which time pure colour, rather than form, had become central to his vision.

Heron sought to juxtapose colours in order to explore the relationships between them. Discussing the visual properties of the colour red, which is used in three tones in the present work, he explained, 'If I stand only eighteen inches away from a fifteen-foot canvas that is uniformly covered in a single shade of red, say, my vision being entirely monopolised by red I shall cease within a matter of seconds to be fully conscious of that red: the redness of that red will not be restored until a fragment of another colour is allowed to intrude, setting up a reaction. It is in this interaction between differing colours that our full awareness of any of them lies. So the meeting-lines between areas of colour are utterly crucial to our appreciation of the actual hue of those areas' (P. Heron quoted in M. Gooding, Patrick Heron, London, 1994, p. 186).

In 1967, the year that the present work was painted, Heron had been seriously injured in a canoeing accident with his friend and fellow artist, Bryan Wynter. He was crushed by the canoe during a heavy squall and broke his leg in several places. The severity of the accident was such that there was a possibility that Heron would have lost his leg if Dr Robins had not carried out the critical surgery. This accident brought about a change in his working practice as he produced a series of small gouaches, enabling him to explore possibilities with colour and texture in a new way. These works were not intended as studies for larger paintings, but the exercise in creating them led to a renewed vigour and spontaneity in applying paint to large canvases again. After sketching out shapes on the surface, he would fill in with colour using small Japanese brushes to give texture and luminosity to the paint: 'putting paint on a flat surface with a brush is just about the greatest pleasure I know' (P. Heron, ibid).
‘How did you get on with the problem of hanging the red painting? My new pictures at Waddingtons are 15 feet long!’ - (P. Heron, personal correspondence with Mr Robins, 1 February 1970).

In the present work a striking visual impact is created by the hard edges that divide the different colour planes, and, as the artist explained, 'a jagged line separating two reds will make them cooler or hotter, pinker or more orange, than a smoothly looping or rippling line. The line changes the colour on either side of it. This being so, it follows that it is the linear character that I give to the frontiers between colour-areas that finally determines the apparent colour of my colours' (P. Heron, 'Colour in my Painting', The Studio, London, December 1969, pp. 204-5).

We are very grateful to Susanna Heron and Andrew Wilson for assisting in the preparation of this catalogue entry. The Patrick Heron Trust is in the process of researching the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work and would like to hear from owners of any works by Patrick Heron, so that these can be included in this comprehensive catalogue. Please write to The Patrick Heron Trust, c/o Christie's Modern British Art Department, 8 King Street, London, SW1Y 6QT, or email at

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