Jerwood Foundation

Alan Reynolds (1926-2014)

Blue and Grey Landscape, 1952

  • Details

    Courtesy the Artist
    signed and dated ‘Reynolds / 52’ (upper left), and inscribed ‘Blue and Grey Landscape’ (on the reverse)

  • Medium

    brush, black ink and watercolour on paper

  • Dimensions

    26.7 x 37.5 cm.

  • Provenance

    The Late Sir Frederick Gibberd, C.B.E., R.A.; Christie’s, London, 26 October 1994, lot 62, where purchased.

  • Literature

    Collection Catalogue, Jerwood Collection, London 2012 p.34

Reynolds was brought up in Newmarket, Suffolk, and the local surroundings and work of Gainsborough and Constable were important influences in his early landscape compositions. In 1960 Eric Newton described Reynolds’ early work: ‘He began as a landscape painter, to whom the distant sky, the level meadows, the thistle or the ears of corn within reach of his hand were objects to be described with the precision of which only an analytical love of such objects is capable’.

Painted in 1952, the year of Reynolds’ first one-man show at the Redern Gallery, Blue and Grey Landscape demonstrates his overriding preoccupation at the time of depicting the natural world and changing seasons as well as the influence of Paul Klee and Graham Sutherland. Reynolds’ work would develop dramatically during his career, moving first in the direction of abstraction through the use of geometric forms in his paintings and then a stage further into the purity of white reliefs.

Reynolds’ interest in abstraction can be seen in his early landscape paintings and is apparent in the crescents and circles in Blue and Grey Landscape. In the catalogue to his 1953 show at Redfern, Reynolds wrote: ‘Poetry is never absent from Nature, but alone it cannot constitute a work of art. It must be reconciled with the elements of design and composition. Laying emphasis on the formal values in a work will therefore result in a degree of abstraction. This is, to me, the logical development of the motif towards its transformation into a picture’.

Image: Courtesy the Artist

Born and brought up in Newmarket, Suffolk, Reynolds served in the infantry in the Second World War and received an ex-service man’s grant, which enabled him to study at the Woolwich Polytechnic School of Art (1948-52). He then obtained a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, London (1952-53). During his time at the Royal College, he exhibited at the Redfern Gallery, and on leaving he took up teaching at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London (1954-61) and Central St Martin’s (1961).

In 1985 he returned to St Martin’s and was appointed Senior Lecturer of Painting. Reynolds’ early landscape painting was influenced by the work of Gainsborough and Constable, however, he turned to abstraction in the late 1950s, increasingly influenced by European painters. His work has been extensively exhibited, including a major exhibition at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (2003) and is held in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and the Tate, London. Reynolds lived and worked in Kent.