Peter Lanyon

A fiercely Cornish painter and artist, born in 1918. His abstract or near-abstract paintings, collages and constructions were inspired by the coastal landscape of West Cornwall. In 1959 he took up gliding, the experience of which had a powerful effect on his work: "This is why I do gliding myself, to get actually into the air itself and get a further sense of depth and space into yourself, into your own body, and then carry it through a painting." He died following a gliding accident in 1964.
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Built Up Coast (1960) by Peter Lanyon, Manchester Art Gallery

Built up Coast Peter Lanyon. You can see the coast line in his paintings but also the other smaller buildings in the foreground - the level of abstraction reflects the physical experience of being amongst the elements whilst painting.

Lulworth (1956) by Peter Lanyon. "I have been reduced to more misery and distress by such paintings than any human being can make for me." The painting shows two lovers, their heads the two mainly white spaces enclosed by black, the thicker black lines in the centre outlining their embrace. The woman is Lanyon's mistress, Susan.

Lulworth (1956) by Peter Lanyon. "I have been reduced to more misery and distress by such paintings than any human being can make for me." The painting shows two lovers, their heads the two mainly white spaces enclosed by black, the thicker black lines in the centre outlining their embrace. The woman is Lanyon's mistress, Susan.

Calm Air (1961) by Peter Lanyon. Turbulent air on the edge of a thermal pushes and shakes the glider, but once it breaks through the outer belt smooth rising air can lift it swiftly and effortlessly. The breach in the vertical red line may be the glider breaking through.

Calm Air by Peter Lanyon. Turbulent air on the edge of a thermal pushes…

Porthleven (1951) by Peter Lanyon. "...The fishing port of Porthleven from several perspectives, revealing its two harbours and clock tower. Lanyon later identified a human presence in the work, reading the shape on the left as a fisherman with lamp and his wife wrapped in a shawl on the right" [Tate Gallery]. He completed the picture very quickly, just in time for a competition.

Peter Lanyon, Porthleven, 1951 Oil on board, x cm Collection: Tate

Rosewall (1960) by Peter Lanyon. Probably the first of the gliding paintings. Rosewall is a large hill west of St Ives. This is a climbing turn, in which the pilot banks the plane into a thermal and flies an upwardly spiralling path. As the glider wheels round and round, the sky and ground...appear to slide round the cockpit.

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Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon's Gliding Paintings - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon's Gliding Paintings - The Courtauld Institute of…

Peter Lanyon (1963) photographed by Jorge Lewinski

Jorge Lewinski has been photographing artists since the early and is now considered one of the foremost photographers of artists in Britain. Over the last 40 years he has photographed over 300 artists.

Sky (1956) by Peter Lanyon, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. The first of Lanyon's paintings in which blue and white began to replace earth colours. Brushstrokes were looser and more gestural, too.

Sky by Peter Lanyon, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. The first of Lanyon's paintings in which blue and white began to replace earth colours. Brushstrokes were looser and more gestural, too.

Backing Wind, November 1961 by Peter Lanyon, British Council. A backing wind blows in one direction at ground level and in a counter-clockwise direction higher up. Such a wind is associated with cold, sinking air - felt in flight as a sharp downward lurch.

Discover artworks, explore venues and meet artists. Art UK is the online home for every public collection in the UK. Featuring over oil paintings by some artists.

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