Robyn DENNY

1930-2014 

 

Abstract 1957

 

oil on card, 10 x 13cm

framed: 21 x 23 cm

inscribed 'To Bernard - Greetings and good wishes from Robyn & Anna Christmas 1957'

 

in a polished cherry wood tray frame under UV non reflective glass

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Robyn Denny is one of a legendary group of artists, among them Richard Hamilton, Bridget Riley and William Turnbull who transformed British art in the late 1950s. His generation includes Peter Blake, Richard Smith and William Green. Denny embodies their drive to renew contemporary British Art as an expression of urban vitality with an emphasis on urban modernity, abstract expressionism and popular culture. 

 

Denny's work since the late 50s relate to the built environment and human presence among structures. This painting is a beautiful and rare example of Denny's work containing letters and numerals that harnesses Denny's interests in space, perception and colour. The letters and numbers here are like mysterious found objects scattered across the page, highlighting Denny's interest in urban London, information, street signs and instructions. 

 

These pieces can be aligned with the French lettriste artist, 'Isidore Isou' who used letters and texts like ideograms. The shapes and numbers here have been created using a stencil and print roller looking at lettering in a pop way. This stencilling creates close-tones and informal homogeneity which makes the surface as flat as any of his collage works, emphasising the surface as a whole and the spirit of the context. 

 

Its beauty lies in its precision and freedom, its economical means and its layered richness. Surprising in its simplicity it is the playfulness of this structured work which makes wonderful. This is a work with an urban heart and metropolitan character. It is a remarkable rhythmic celebration of the metropolis, importing from the world at large. This is an early and important work which embodies the energy and atmosphere of this period.

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Robyn Denny photographed c.1957 with Richard Smith painting at the RCA 

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