Heron, Patrick (1920–1999) By Furness, Tom
Patrick Heron is recognized by many as a key figure in the history of post-war British art, both as a practicing artist and as a prolific writer and critic. Influenced in his own work by artists such as Matisse, Bonnard, and Braque, he acted as key conduit between British art and the continent—particularly French painting, typified by the École de Paris. Like his fellow British painters Roger Hilton and William Gear, he was predisposed toward the bold use of color and a free play with oscillating perspectival cues in the more figurative of his works. An example of Heron’s earlier linear lyrical abstract work, Christmas Eve, was included in the 1951 Festival of Britain exhibition, 60 Paintings for ’51.
Heron also organized several key exhibitions during the 1950s, which marked key touchstones in the development of abstract British art, including Space in Colour at the Hanover Gallery, London, in 1953 and Metavisual, Taschiste, Abstract at the Redfern Gallery, London, in April 1956. Influenced by the Russian-French artist Nicholas de Staël, and perhaps somewhat by American Abstract Expressionism, after 1955 his works were primarily non-representational, but preserved subtle and equivocal references to the landscape surrounding his home.