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Albert Irvin

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ALBERT IRVIN

Was a prolific British artist, best known for his exuberant paintings, watercolours, screenprints and gouaches. He was born in London and continued to live and work there throughout his life. His art focusses on capturing and exploring the experience of being in the world. Early watercolours will be at the RA for their exhibition Brought to Light, the Unseen Watercolours which opens on the 30th January in the Sir Hugh Casson Room at the RA.

 

Early Years

The first major connection between painting and Irvin’s own life occurred in the early 1940s when he attended the Northampton School of Art. He had to cut short his studies when he joined the Royal Air Force in 1941 to serve as a navigator in World War II.

After the war Irvin returned to his passion for art, enrolling in 1946 at Goldsmiths College in London. He graduated four years later with a National Diploma in Design. Irvin went back, as a teacher, to Goldsmiths in 1962 remaining there for over twenty years.

 

After World War II

Throughout the 1950s Irvin developed his unique style of literal meaning through his painting. In his early career he battled with the two alternatives of abstraction and figuration. It was not until the mid-1950s that Irvin finally moved away from relying on figures and social realism in his work and embraced an approach closer to metaphor and the abstract.

Irvin’s reputation began to swell in the art world as his paintings grew in merit, maturity of style, and value. He was invited to display his work at more and more exhibitions in both Britain and abroad. A new freedom to experiment also found its way into over his work as he ‘played’ with canvas size, colour, structure, shape, and composition.

 

1970s onwards

Later the artist began to experiment with the medium of his art. He changed from oil to acrylic in the early 1970s and had a short-lived foray into lithography in 1975. He then began a screenprinting career in 1980 with Advanced Graphics London. The collaborative approach of screenprinting, although a new and very different outlet from painting, still allowed Irvin to display many of his characteristic traits as an artist. He would quickly affirm his reputation as one of Britain’s foremost printmakers.

Present

The Albert Irvin Estate, run by his daughters Priscilla Hashmi and Celia Irvin, continues to promote his work and there are various exhibitions and events being planned for the near future, details of which will appear here.

The Estate is represented by Gimpel Fils, London and Advanced Graphics London.

 

Born London 1922, died March 26 2015

 

1940-41
Northampton School of Art

1941-46
Royal Air Force

1946-50
Goldsmiths’ College School of Art, University of London

1962-83
Teaching at Goldsmiths College School of Art

1965
Elected Member of London Group

1968
Arts Council Award to visit USA

1975
Arts Council Major Award

1983
BBC2 television film A Feeling to Paint: Four Artists and their Materials, directed by Anne James Gulbenkian Award for Printmaking

1990
BBC Radio 3, Third Ear interview with Joan Bakewell

1993
Design for Diversions Dance Company

1994
BBC2 television Off the Wall: The Byker Show

1998
Elected RA
First performance of Holyrood a composition by Barry Guy, based on a work by Irvin

 

Selected Solo Shows Since 1980

2012
Albert Irvin, Borris House, Barrow River Arts Festival, Ireland
Albert Irvin: 90th Year Celebration Paintings and prints, Bohun Gallery
Albert Irvin at 90: a survey exhibition, Clifford Chance, London
Fidelio, Gimpel Fils, London
Royal Oak, Monoprints, Advanced Graphics London, London

2011
Print Retrospective, University Gallery and Baring Wing,
University of Northumbria, Newcastle
Inextinguishable, Gimpel Fils, London
Albert Irvin RA: From Holyrood to Stratford, Sir Hugh Casson Room, Royal Academy, London
Fidelio, Gimpel Fils, London

2010 
New Work, Gimpel Fils, London
Print Retrospective, Advanced Graphics London/ Kings Place, London
Tabard: Albert Irvin, Churchill College, Cambridge

2010
Tabard: Albert Irvin, Churchill College, Cambridge

2009
Albert Irvin: A Retrospective, University Gallery and Baring Wing, University of Northumbria, Newcastle
Albert Irvin, galerie gimpel & Müller, Paris

2008
Albert Irvin, Manton Wing staircase display, Tate Britain, London
Albert Irvin, Peppercanister, Dublin
Recent Prints, Advanced Graphics London
Albert Irvin: A Retrospective, Kings Place Gallery
Albert Irvin: Six Paintings, Kings Place Foyer

2006
Urban Journey, Gimpel Fils, London
New Works, Peppercanister Gallery, Dublin

2005-2006
New Editions and Monoprints, Advanced Graphics, London

2004-2005
Midsummer, Gimpel Fils, London

2003
Paintings and Prints, Storey Gallery, Lancaster
Peppercanister Gallery, Dublin

2002
Four Score, Gimpel Fils, London
Malerei, Galerie Stuhler, Berlin

2001
Paintings & Prints 1991-2001, West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen

2000
Prints & Paintings 1980-2000, Advanced Graphics, London

1999
Royal West of England Academy, Bristol
Orion Gallery, Brussels

1998
Abbaye Saint-André, Centre d’art contemporain, Meymac
Dean Clough Gallery, Halifax
Works on paper – touring German museums
Gimpel Fils, London, celebrating the launch of ‘Albert Irvin – Life to Painting’, monograph, pub.Lund Humphries, London.

1997
Galerie Stöhler, Berlin
Galerie Wassermann, Berlin

1996/7
Gimpel Fils, London

1996
Millfield School, Somerset
Oriel Theatre, Clwyd

1995
Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin

1994
Powell Moya Partnership, London
Gimpel Fils, London
Wasserman Galerie, Munich
Chapter Gallery, Cardiff
Woodlands Art Gallery

1993
Campo Vlaamse Kaai, Antwerp
Bodilly Gallery, Cambridge
Flowers Graphics – Prints
Design for Diversions Dance Company

1992
Galeria Punto, Valencia
Chelmsford Cathedral Festival
Oxford Gallery
Galerie Klaus Lupke, Frankfurt
Gimpel Fils, London
Wolf At The Door, Penzance

1991
Playhouse Gallery, Harlow
Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University
Flowers East, London – Prints

1990
Serpentine Gallery, London
Gimpel Fils, London
Spacex Gallery, Exeter
Oriel and Chapter Galleries, Cardiff
Castlefield Gallery, Manchester
Gallery Monochrome, Brussels

1989
Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh
Carine Campo Gallery, Antwerp

1988
Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, New York

1987
Carine Campo Gallery, Antwerp

1986
Gimpel Fils, London
Hendriks Gallery, Dublin

1985
Coventry Gallery, Sydney
Butler Gallery, Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny
Arcade Gallery, Harrogate

1984
Gimpel Fils, London
Demarcation, Edinburgh Festival
Jersey Arts Council Gallery

1983
Third Eye Centre Gallery, Glasgow
Aberdeen Art Gallery
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

1982
Gimpel Fils, London
Goldsmiths College Gallery, London

1981
Manchester Polytechnic Gallery

1980
Acme Gallery, London
Bede Gallery, Jarrow

1978
Newcastle Polytechnic Gallery

1976
New 57 Gallery, Edinburgh
Aberdeen Art Gallery
Galerie Klaus Löpke, Frankfurt

1975
Deutsche Oper, Berlin

1974
Stödtische Kunstsammlungen, Ludwigshafen
Galerie 2, Stuttgart

1973
New Art Centre, London

1972
Galerie Folker Skulima, Berlin, and regularly during the 1970s Galerie Klaus Löpke, Frankfurt

1971
New Art Centre, London

1969
Exe Gallery, Exeter

1966
Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh

1964
Edinburgh University

1963
New Art Centre, London

1961
New Art Centre, London

1960
57 Gallery, Edinburgh

 

Selected Group Shows Since 1980

2013
Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London
Alan Davie RA and Albert Irvin RA, Gimpel Fils, London
London Group Centenary Exhibition, Pitzhanger Manor Gallery & House, London
British Prints, Gimpel Fils, London
The Horse that has Visions of Immortality, Gimpel Fils, London

2012
Summer Exhibition, Kings Space Gallery, London
Barrow River Arts Festival, Borris House, Ireland
Encounter: The Royal Academy in Asia, Singapore
Encounter: The Royal Academy in The Middle East, Doha

2011
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London

2010 forthcoming
Come to Richmond, The Richmond Hill Gallery, Surrey
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London
Colour is the Keyboard, Gimpel Fils, London

2009
Open Exhibition, The London Group, London
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London

2008
The Colour Show, Hilton Young Fine Art, Penzance
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London

2007
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London

2006
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London
Summer Exhibition, Lemon Street Gallery, Cornwall
Realites Nouvelles, Paris
Painting by Other Means: Non-figurative works from the collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Wales

2005
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London
1979, Bloomberg SPACE, London
The Discerning Eye‘, Mall Galleries, London

2004
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London
174th RHA Annual Exhibition, RHA Gallagher Gallery, Dublin
Tracing the Land, Gimpel Fils, London

2003
The London Group, Peter Clossick at The Gallery in Cork Street
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London
Cabinet Paintings, Compass Gallery, Glasgow

2001/2
Square Root, Sarah Myerscough Gallery, London

2001
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London
Selection from Collection of Royal Bank of Scotland, City Art Gallery, Edinburgh
Works in Paper, Galerie stuhler, Berlin
Zen and the Art of Cities, Rivington Gallery, London
Create Quarters, Museum of London
RWA, Bristol
RHA, Dublin
The London Group’, Wlak Gallery, London

2000
Small is Beautiful, Flowers East, London
Local Colour, Bury St. Edmunds Gallery
City Art Gallery, London
Summer Prospects, Orion Gallery, Ostend
5 British Painters, Flowers West, Los Angeles
Galerie Stuhler, Berlin
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London
The Discerning Eye‘, Mall Galleries, London
Advanced Graphics at Original Print Gallery, Dublin

1999
The Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London
Kunst Schmuck Kunst,
Galerie Stuhler, Berlin
Compas Gallery, Glasgow
21, Spacex Gallery, Exeter
Small is Beautiful, Flowers West, Los Angeles
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London

1998
The Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London
25 Years of the Visual Arts, Bulter Gallery, Kilkenny
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London

1997
The Subjects of Art, Nat West Group Art Collection

1996
Small is Beautiful, Flowers East, London

1995
Cabinet Art, Jason and Rhodes, London
10 Years in Galerie Im Griechenbeisl, Vienna
British Abstract Painting, Atkinson, Millfield, Somerset

1994
Here and Now, Serpentine Gallery, London
Painters and Prints, Curwen Gallery, London
Castlefield 10th Anniversary, Castlefield Gallery and Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
Contemporary Prints, Flowers Graphics
British Abstract Painting, Flowers East, London
Critics Choice, Clare Henry, NS Gallery, Glasgow
12 Contemporary British Printmakers, Karelian Republic Art Museum, Russia

1993
CCA Galleries, London
Flowers East Gallery, London
Egyptian International Print Triennale
The Byker Art Show, Newcastle

1992
Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (Invited artist), 1993, 1994 and 1995
Whitechapel Open (Invited artist)

1991-3
Courtauld Institute Loan Collection

1991
Bradford Print Biennale at Royal College of Art, London
Gimpel Fils – Bath Festival (with Alan Davie)
Downeen Collection, Co. Cork, Ireland
Guinness Hop Store, Dublin – European large format print-making
Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, Centenary Exhibition (Selector)
Peter Stuyvesant Collection
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

1990
Great British Art Show, McLellan Galleries, Glasgow

1989
International Print Biennale, Ljubljana
The Experience of Painting, Laing Gallery, Newcastle, touring

1988
Beattie, Hoyland, Irvin, Sunderland
Presence of Painting, Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield, touring Carine Campo Gallery, Antwerp
European Biennale Graphic Art, Baden-Baden

1987
Royal Academy (prizewinner), and in 1988, 1989 [prizewinner], 1990 and 1991

1986
Bradford Print Biennale (prizewinner) and in 1990

1985
Home and Abroad, Serpentine Gallery

1984
ROSC ’84, Dublin

1983
Contemporary British Painters, Madrid

1982
Hayward Annual

1980
Hayward Annual, Hayward Gallery, London
John Moores Liverpool, and in 1982 (prizewinner) 1987, 1989 and 1991, 1995

1979
British Art Show touring

1977
British Painting 1952-77, Royal Academy, London
Whitechapel Open, and regularly since

1975
From Britain ’75, Helsinki

1974
British Painting ’74, Hayward Gallery

1971
SPACE, Muncipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin
London Now in Berlin, Messehalle, Berlin

1951
London Group and regularly since

 

Selected Bibliography

2013
Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), The Art Newspaper, July/August
Stewart Geddes Interviews Bert Irvin For Turps Banana, Turps Banana , Issue 13

2012
Market News, The Daily Telegraph, July

2010
The Indefatigable Albert Irvin, Kings Place, September-December
Mary Rose Beaumont, Albert Irvin: The Complete Prints
High Art With A Smile, The Cambridge Student, January

2009
Dale Atkinson / Albert Irvin, The Guardian Guide, 18-24 April 2009
Albert Irvin; A Retrospective, The Art Newspaper, No.201, April 2009

2008
Albert Irvin: A Retrospective, ex cat. (introduction by Mara-Helen Wood. Kings Place Gallery, London and University Gallery, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2008/09
Dr Alice Correia: Expressions of Hope (catalogue essay). Albert Irvin: A Retrospective, Kings Place Gallery, London and University Gallery, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2008/09
Michael Glover: A painter who lets the sun shine into the city, (review of Albert Irvin; a retrospective, Kings Place Gallery, London). The Independent, December
Andrew Lambirth: Christmas round-up: Albert Irvin at Kings Place, The Spectator, 20-27 December 2008

2007
Urban Journey, ex cat. Gimpel Fils, London
Bill Woodrow RA (ed.): Royal Academy Illustrated 2007, The Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2007, reproduction on p.38

2005
Andrew Lambirth: Look back with pleasure: 1979; Bloomberg Space, The Spectator, 27 August 2005

2004
Allen Jones RA, with David Hockney RA (eds.): Royal Academy Illustrated 2004, The Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2004, reproduction on p.77

2003
Peter Chapman: Albert Irvin at the Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University. The Independent, January
Albert Irvin, ex cat. (including essay from Four Score by Aidan Dunne). Peppercanister Gallery, Dublin, October
Ciara Ferguson: A colourful character whose work explodes in a celebration
of life, The Sunday Independent (Ireland), October

2002
Four Score, ex cat. (essay by Aidan Dunne). Gimpel Fils, London, March/April
Judith Bumpus: Vibrant Vision. RA Magazine, Spring
Patricia Wynn Davies: Albert Irvin: Artist at Work. The Daily Telegraph, April
Judith Bumpus: Albert Irvin, Painter. The Art Newspaper, May

2001
Albert Irvin Paintings and Prints 1991 – 2001, ex cat. (introduction by Cóilín Murray), including Q&A with artist, West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen, Ireland
Aidan Dunne: Turning his hand to the light. The Irish Times. August

2000
Virginia Boston: Movement Through Space. Artists & Illustrators, December

1991
David Lillington: Visible Energy. Frieze (pilot issue)
1999
Bill Hare: Albert Irvin – life to painting. Contemporary Visual Arts, issue 23
William Packer: Why age does not wither them. Financial Times, London, January
Frans Boenders: Familiar and Yet so Strange, (catalogue essay). Orion Art Gallery, Brussels

1998
Albert Irvin, ex cat. (introduction by Paul Moorhouse), Centre d’art contemporain, Meymac, France, July/October
Gaya Goldcymer-Taïeb: Albert Irvin: Arpenteur du Sensible, (catalogue essay). Albert Irvin, Centre d’art contemporain, Meymac, France
Françoise-Claire Prodhon: Albert Irvin: Fragments d’une Oeuvre, (catalogue essay). Albert Irvin, Centre d’art contemporain, Meymac, France
Richard Milner: City People. Evening Standard, December
Paul Moorhouse: Albert Irvin – life to painting. Monograph, published by Lund Humphries, London

1996
Ely, ex cat. (introduction by Sacha Craddock), Gimpel Fils, London, November

1995
Paul Moorhouse: Albert Irvin’s Paintings and the Methods of Music, (catalogue essay). Albert Irvin: Painting and Prints 1980-1995, Gallagher Gallery, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, November/December

1994
Albert Irvin, ex cat. (introduction by A S Byatt). Gimpel Fils, London

1993
An Exuberance of Gesture (interview). Storming Heaven, Stride, no.35

1992
Three Score and Ten, ex cat. Gimpel Fils, London, November
Bill Hare: Don’t Stop the Carnival – Albert Irvin at 70. Contemporary Art, Vol.1, No.2, Winter

1989
Interview with Mel Gooding. The Experience of Painting, ex cat. Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne (touring), January/July
Albert Irvin Paintings 1960 -1989, ex cat. (Foreword by Andrew Forge). Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh and Serpentine Gallery, London (touring) 1989/90
Paul Moorhouse: Strategy and Ecstasy: The Art of Albert Irvin, (catalogue essay). Albert Irvin Paintings 1960 -1989, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh and Serpentine Gallery, London (touring)
Alexander Moffat: Albert Irvin, (catalogue essay). Albert Irvin Paintings 1960 -1989, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh and Serpentine Gallery, London (touring)

1988
Freeing the Spirit, ex cat. (preface by Albert Irvin). Crawford Centre for the Arts, St Andrews and Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries.

1987
Dorothy Walker. Alba, Spring

1986
Interview with Mike Von Joel.  Artline, February
Albert Irvin, ex cat. (introduction by Michael Tooby). Gimpel Fils, London and Hendriks Gallery, Dublin, April/September
Paul Moorhouse. Artscribe International, September/October

1985
Terence Maloon. Sydney Morning Herald, March 23
Paul Moorhouse. Tate Gallery Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84
Interview with Peter Hill, ex cat. Butler Gallery, Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny, August
Albert Irvin Paintings 1981-85, ex cat. (introduction by William Packer). Coventry Gallery, Sydney

1984
ROSC ’84, ex cat (artist’s statement), Dublin

1982
Albert Irvin, ex cat. (introduction by Caryn Faure Walker). Gimpel Fils,
London, and Goldsmiths College Gallery, University of London, September
Margaret Garlake. Art Monthly, October 1983
Albert Irvin ’77-’83, ex cat. (introduction by Mary Rose Beaumont). Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, (touring Aberdeen Art Gallery and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham), April
Alexander Moffat: A Fine Romance (catalogue essay). Albert Irvin ’77-’83’, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow (touring), April
Peter Hill. Art Monthly, June
William Packer. Mercury, Winter 1983-84

1980
Albert Irvin Paintings 1979-80, ex cat. (introduction by Tim Hilton). Acme Gallery, London, April
Ian Jeffrey: Albert Irvin. Art Monthly, May
Conversation with Jon Thompson. Aspects No.13, Winter 1980-81

1979
Malcolm Quantrill: Aspects of environment: the work of Albert Irvin and Michael McKinnon’. Art International, May

1978
Albert Irvin, ex cat. (Introduction by William Packer). Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic Art Gallery.

1976
Interview with Stephen Carter.  Artscribe No.1. January
Albert Irvin, ex cat. (Introduction by Cordelia Oliver). New 57 Gallery, Edinburgh and Aberdeen Art Gallery, May/June

1974
Albert Irvin Werke 1968-73, ex cat. (Introduction by Hermann Wiesler). Stadtische Kunstsammlungen, Ludwigshafen, July
One Magazine, (artist’s statement). July 1974

1971
Bernard Denvir: London Letter. Art International, March
Andrew Forge: Albert Irvin. Studio International, March

 

Public Collections

Aberdeen Art Gallery
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Arts Council of Great Britain
Birmingham City Art Gallery
Blackburn Art Gallery
British Council
Huddersfield Art Gallery
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
Manchester City Art Gallery
Mappin Gallery, Sheffield
Neue Gallerie der Stadt Linz, Austria
New England Regional Art Gallery, NSW, Australia
Pensecola Museum, Florida
Schindler Collection, Zurich
St’dtische Kunstsammlungen, Ludwigshafen, Germany
Stoke City Art Gallery
Stuyvesant Collection, Holland
Tate Gallery, London
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Wolverhampton Art Gallery

 

Early watercolours will be at the RA for their exhibition Brought to Light, the Unseen Watercolours which opens on the 30th January in the Sir Hugh Casson Room at the RA.