Robyn Denny

Robyn Denny is known for his colorfield abstraction that was developed out of his admiration for American hard-edged abstraction which grew out of the abstract expressionist movement.  A painter and a printmaker, he, much like contemporary Richard Smtih (1931-2016) was at the forebront of the British avant-garde in the 1960s.  Denny brought this new type of abstraction to the UK in the late 1950s having been exposed to and inspired by the work of Rothko, Clyfford Still and Sam Francis among others in a couple of exhibitions held at the Tate during the period.  In 1956 the Tate show  'Modern Art in the United States: A Selection from the Collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York' was enormously influential, and this was followed up in 1959 with the exhibition 'The New American Painting'.  The impact of these two exhibitions on Denny and Smith and the course of British Art during the 1960s was enormous.  Their work moved away from gestural abstraction to embrace the colorfield and hard-edge aspects of American abstract art.

 

Having studied at St Martins' School of Art from 1951-54 and the Royal College of Art from 1954-57, Denny held his first solo show in London in 1957 and went on to teach painting at Hammersmith College of Art from1957-59 and Bath Academy of Art 1959-65.  He also taught at the Slade School of Art. During the 1960s he saw great critical acclaim and exhibited internationally with solo shows in in Milan, Stuttgart, Cologne, New York, and Zurich as well as in London at Waddington, Tooth Galleries, Kasmin Gallery and at Arnolfini, Bristol.  He encountered the work of Charles Biederman and the effect was to brighten his own palette as works such as 'The Heavenly Suite' concieved in 1977 attest.

 

In 1973 he was was the subject of a Tate Gallery retrospective exhibtion and in 1985 he received a major public commission for Embankment tube station.

He lived briefly in LA in the 1980s, returning to the UK in 1986.  His work is held in numerous public collections, including the Walker Art Gallyery, The Arts Council Collection, Government Art Collection and the Towner Art Gallery among others.