British Abstract Art

For two decades Liss Llewellyn have championed some of the lesser known pioneers and unsung heros of 20th Century British Abstract Art. This includes artists such as Jas Wood and R.A. Wilson, who produced pure abstract pictures a full decade earlier than the official birth of abstract art in Britain. Cecil Stephenson, who exhibited alongside Moore, Hepworth, Nicholson and Hitchens and was credited by Herbert Read as being “. . . one of the earliest artists in the country to develop a completely abstract style.” Liss Llewellyn was responsible for the Michael Canney and Cecil Stephenson exhibitions held at The Fine Art Society in March and November 2007.

  • Allan-Milner: Domestic-Chores,-1940s
    Allan Milner: Domestic Chores, 1940's
  • Kenneth-Rowntree: Di-Venezia,-1960s
    Kenneth Rowntree: Di Venezia, 1960s
  • Kenneth-Rowntree: Sky,-Sea,-North-Umber,-1981
    Kenneth Rowntree: Sky, Sea, North Umber, 1981
  • Allan-Milner: Magpie-Exercise-(F85),-circa-1960
    Allan Milner: Magpie Exercise (F85), circa 1960
  • Kathleen-Guthrie: From-a-tempera-painting-by-John-Cecil-Stephenson-1937
    Kathleen Guthrie: From a tempera painting by John Cecil Stephenson 1937
  • Michael-Canney: System-with-Circles-no.-1,-mid-1980s
    Michael Canney: System with Circles no. 1, mid 1980's
  • Roy-Turner-Durrant: Two-Figures,-1954
    Roy Turner Durrant: Two Figures, 1954

Catalogues of British Abstract Art

John Cecil Stephenson

Published: 2007
64 pages 41 illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-905062-42

Cecil Stephenson was one of the pioneers of abstract art in England, along with Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, John Piper, Edward Wadsworth and half-a-dozen others. This move towards abstraction had two principal strands, one leaning towards surrealism and the other to geo-metric abstraction, or Constructivism as it came to be known. Stephenson and his friends were mostly in the latter camp, and the London Gallery exhibition drew them together along with a distinguished group of foreign exhibitors including Moholy-Nagy, Calder, Giacometti, Helion and Naum Gabo. Just as Mondrian began his journey towards non-figuration through the modification and simplification of forms, natural and man-made – branches of trees and elements of church architecture – so Stephenson began his through isolating and refining industrial elements – cogs, axles, wheels, pistons, etc – derived from the multiple pieces of machinery he managed to house within his Hampstead studio.

Michael Canney

Published: 2007
56 pages 44 illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-905062-34

Canney was an innovator, and discovered the possibilities created by the invention of a new medium. Alkyd oil paint was developed in the 30s and 40s for industrial processes which required special paint finish. The addition of alkyd resin to oil paint gives more flexibility when dry and speeds up the drying process. This medium was to have a profound influence on Canney's work in his later years. Michael Canney's art developed throughout his life, but once he had adopted the Constructivist style he continued it. Experimenting with both composition and media, his work combines visual beauty and a love for materials, with a sharp intellectual study of form, geometry and balance. His own very particular style developed alongside some of the major names of the modern movement in British art. This comprehensive show of Canney's work provides the opportunity to enjoy, and reassess his own contribution to 20th century British abstract art.

British Paintings & Works on Paper

Published: 2005
240 pages 176 illustrations

Many of the artists featured in this catalogue — Monnington, Jas Wood, Banting, Colquhoun, Stephenson, Medley, Rowntree, Vaughan, Canney and Nockolds —moved freely between figurative and abstract art. It was part of their journey. In their ambitious exploration to find a pure art that went beyond reality, they often stopped, or hesitated, and in many cases returned to figurative painting. Artists such as Bush, Knights, Kelly and Cundall remained throughout their lives purely figurative. Their best work, however, is underpinned by an economy of design, which not only verges on the abstract, but was fed by the compositional purity developed by the pursuit of abstraction.

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