Alan Green British, 1932-2003

Alan Green was born in London in 1932 and studied at Beckenham School of Art and The Royal College of Art, London, in between which he did two years national service in Japan and Korea.  He trained as an illustrator and graphic designer which freed him from the theoretical constraints of art history and conventional approaches to painting. Green was one of the great British abstract artists whose formative years were spent in London in the 1960’s.  By the mid–1960’s, in response perhaps to the influence of American abstract painting, Green began working on field paintings (which were remarkably advanced for their time) in which his colour and its application dictated the form. He was keen for his paintings to function in two ways; as a two-dimensional pictorial space, as well as a three-dimensional material object in real space. Green achieved this by painting restrained canvases, which seem to respond differently to subtle environmental changes.  His minimal surfaces delicately register slight changes in surrounding light.  This forces the viewer to be aware of the physical context of the paintings as well as their own relation to it.

 

Having worked closely with Green and exhibited his work regularly throughout his career, in 2003 Annely Juda Fine Art held an exhibition of his work from the early 70’s through to his death in 2003. The exhibition was not intended to be seen as a retrospective, but an appreciation of the development and vitality of his work from the early Block Paintings, through to the multi-part canvases, the Horizontal Paintings and finally to the last Discs. What was clear in all of Green’s paintings was his passion for - and enjoyment of - the actual physical act of painting, his love of paint and materials and his belief in the autonomy of painting.  Green wanted to create “ordinary paintings that can be looked at over and over again”. This came from his belief that, in the second half of the twentieth century, artists were too self-conscious and carried too much “baggage” to be able to experience “real things” freely.  Alongside his paintings, Green also made exquisite drawings on paper and etchings, similarly relying on colour and process to form the image.

 

Green also held teaching posts at Hornsey College of Art, Leeds Polytechnic and Ravensbourne College of Art and exhibited extensively throughout his life.  His works are represented in major public collections in the UK including the Tate Gallery, Leeds City Art Gallery, British Council, British Museum, Leeds City Art Gallery and throughout Europe and the rest of the world notably Ulster Museum, Belfast, Musee d'Art Moderne, Brussels Amsterdam Kunstmuseum, Kunstmuseum Dusseldorf, Kunstmuseum Hannover mit Sammlung Sprengel, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Tel Aviv Museum, Israel, National Museum of Art Tokyo, Metropolitan Art Museum Osaka,  Australian National Gallery, Canberra.