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A Century of Giving

Patrick Heron

Four blues, Two discs


screenprint, published by Waddington Graphics in an edition of 100

The Fitzwilliam Museum: P.12-1971

Patrick Heron (1920-99) was a leading figure in the post-war development of abstract art in Britain. Although he spent much time in Europe, he lived in Cornwall for most of his creative life and was closely associated with the St Ives' artists.

Heron was one of many leading British artists who took part in the revival of printmaking and the rise of screenprinting in the 1960s. This was inspired by the example of American artists such as Andy Warhol, and stimulated by the partnership of British printers such as Chris Prater - in whose Kelpra Studio this screenprint was made.

Heron's screenprints, like his oil paintings, rely on the use of flat, vivid colour and sensuously manipulated forms. In Four blues, Two discs he uses a characteristic abstract language of balanced, interlinking shapes in which colour appears to float in space.

Screenprinting is an extremely versatile technique, ideally suited to creating bold, modern images and designs. A mesh of very thin or porous fabric, is stretched over a wooden frame. The design is created by blocking off areas of the mesh with a stencil, and squeezing inks through the remainder of the mesh onto a sheet of paper. Only one colour is printed at a time.

From the 1960s onwards, the Fitzwilliam Museum began systematically to acquire prints by living artists such as Bridget Riley, John Piper and John Hoyland. The rapid expansion of the contemporary print collection - in which the Friends' fund played an important role - compensated for the rather slower growth of the contemporary paintings collection. Until recently, this print, acquired in 1971, was the only work by Patrick Heron in the Museum.

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