Albert Irvin 1922 - 2015

It is with great sadness we announce that Albert Irvin died this morning, Thursday 26 March.

Albert Irvin

Obituary Albert Irvin
Albert Irvin, the painter, who has died aged 92, started out in the 1950s as a figurative artist of the kitchen sink school, but after discovering Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko at a famous Tate exhibition in 1956 he reinvented himself as an exponent of a dazzlingly vigorous abstract expressionism, becoming one of Britain’s most respected abstract artists.

Irvin once described the experience of seeing the Tate exhibition as “like a bomb going off”. It convinced him that the challenge faced by his generation of artists was to try to paint truths about the world without depicting things; to discover whether it was possible to make paintings about reality without resorting to imitation. “Can I make a painting about a human being, about the human spirit, without having to paint noses and feet?” he asked.

He moved into abstraction because, like music, it represented pure experience; there was “no need for interpretation”. As a catalogue to a 2012 exhibition of his work at the Gimpel Fils gallery observed: “For over 50 years, his work has been predicated on the conviction that non-descriptive colours, shapes, brush marks and intimated space can directly express a sense of life in its most essential form.”