Patrick Heron was a British artist and critic born in Leeds in 1920. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, between 1937 and 1939 and worked as an assistant to Bernard Leach in St Ives, 1944-45. During the 1930s and 40s he also had some success designing textiles for Cresta Silks, a company owned by his father. Heron's first solo exhibitions were held at the Redfern Gallery, London, in 1947 and at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York, in 1960. In 1956, Heron moved to Zennor in Cornwall where he lived until his death, and it was here that he first began making abstract work inspired by Tachisme and Abstract Expressionism. In his famous lecture 'The Shape of Colour' delivered in 1973, Heron argued that colour and shape were inseparable from one another, a belief that would come to define much of his subsequent work.
Formerly the art critic for The New Statesman between 1947 and 1950, Heron also acted as the London correspondent for Arts based in New York during the late 1950s. Throughout his career he published important scholarship on artists that he admired, notably Ivon Hitchens (1955) and Braque (1956), as well as producing research and theory which underpinned some of his own practice, as seen in The Changing Forms of Art (1955) and The Shape of Colour (1973).
For his painting Heron won the Grand Prize at the John Moores Prize Exhibition in Liverpool in 1959 and the silver medal at the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1965. From 1980 to 1987, he was a Trustee of the Tate Gallery, London. He was awarded a C.B.E. in 1977 and received Honorary Doctorates from Exeter and Kent Universities, the Royal College of Art, London and Winchester School of Art, amongst others. He had retrospective exhibitions at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (1972) and the Barbican Art Gallery (1985). In 1998, the Tate Gallery hosted a major retrospective in 1998 and a subsequent one in 2018 at Tate St Ives which travelled to Turner Contemporary in 2019.
1937-39Slade School of Art, London (part-time)
1952Wakefield City Art Gallery, Wakefield, touring exhibition
1965Hume Tower, Edinburgh
1965-67VIII Bienal de São Paulo, representing Great Britain with Victor Pasmore, touring to Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago; Instituto de Arte Contemporaneo, Lima; Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas
1967Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo
1968Museum of Modern Art, Oxford
Park Square Art Gallery, Leeds
1970Rudy Komon Gallery, Sydney, touring Australia
1972Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
1973Midlands Art Centre, Birmingham
1984Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal
1985Barbican Art Gallery, London
1986Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, Sunderland
1990Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
1994Camden Arts Centre, London, touring to Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol; Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston; Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno
1998Tate Gallery, London
National Portrait Gallery, London
Tate Gallery, St Ives
2001Tate Gallery, St Ives
2013National Portrait Gallery, London
2018Tate Gallery, St Ives, toured to Turner Contemporary, Margate