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Peter Lanyon


Peter Lanyon (8 February 1918 – 31 August 1964) was a Cornish painter of landscapes leaning heavily towards abstraction. Lanyon was one of the most important artists to emerge in post-war Britain. Despite his early death at the age of forty-six he achieved a body of work that is amongst the most original and important reappraisals of modernism in painting to be found anywhere. Combining abstract values with radical ideas about landscape and the figure, Lanyon navigated a course from Constructivism through Abstract Expressionism to a style close to Pop. He also made constructions, pottery and collage.

Lanyon took up gliding as a pastime and used the resulting experience extensively in his paintings. He died in Taunton, Somerset, as the result of injuries received in a gliding accident and is buried in St. Uny's Church, Lelant.

In September 2010 Peter Lanyon’s work was honoured with a large-scale retrospective exhibition: Peter Lanyon 9 October 2010 – 23 January 2011 at Tate St Ives. Curated by Chris Stephens, Head of Displays and Curator of Modern British Art at Tate Britain, it was the first thorough museum retrospective for almost forty years. In 2015 Lanyon's Gliding Paintings were shown as a set in the Soaring Flight exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery, London.

In 2018 the catalogue raisonné of Peter’s oil paintings and three-dimensional works was published by Modern Art Press, after a decades work by Toby Treves.

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Further Reading 

  • Treves, Toby (2018) "Peter Lanyon: catalogue raisonne of the oil paintings and three-dimensional works" Modern Art Press ISBN 978-0-9568007-4-9

  • Treves, Toby, and Wright, Barnaby (2015) "Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon's Gliding Paintings" Courtauld Gallery ISBN 978-1-907372-85-8

  • Stephens, Christopher (2010) "Peter Lanyon" Tate ISBN 978-1854379184

  • Causey, Andrew (2006) "Peter Lanyon: Modernism and the Land" Reaktion Books ISBN 978-1861892751

  • Garlake, Margaret (2003) "The Drawings of Peter Lanyon" Ashgate ISBN 978-0754603160

  • Stephens, Christopher (2000) Peter Lanyon: at the edge of landscape. 21 Publishing ISBN 978-1-901785-04-3

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