Sir Frank Bowling, R.A. - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Spanierman Modern Gallery, New York
    Private Collection, California

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘In my youth I tended to look at the tragic side of human behaviour and try and reflect that in my work, but gradually as I became more involved in the making of paintings, I realised that one of the main ingredients in making paintings was colour and geometry.’ - Frank Bowling

    Undoubtedly one of Britain’s finest formalist painters, Frank Bowling’s painterly practice is currently being celebrated at the artist’s retrospective at the Tate Britain this summer. Since the 1960s, Bowling has been testing and stretching the possibilities of painting, continuing to experiment with form and materials. Born in Guyana, Bowling moved to Britain as a teenager and studied at the Royal College of Art in the early 1960s alongside David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj. Although Bowling achieved early recognition in London, he decided to move to New York in 1966 where his paintings became less constrained by the representational. Pursuing formalism on his own terms, Bowling built a tilting platform in his New York and London studios that enabled him to pour paint from heights of up to two metres, creating daring work that was the product of controlled accidents.

    The present work, Tiger Falls, was executed in 1980, by which time Bowling had been refining his abstract painting for a decade. Bowling’s deep understanding of the motion and colour of paint is evident in this dynamic composition of violet and ochre. Warm and cool hues are blended together, calmly spilling from the top-left corner over the finely-dappled layers underneath. Unlike the hard and rigid lines of American abstraction, visible in the work of Morris Louis or Kenneth Noland, Tiger Falls is an exploration into both the formal materiality as well as atmospheric suggestiveness of paint. In unison with the title, Bowling’s application of the medium is an organic mixture of impasto and thinner painterly washes, both invoking the natural world. Retaining a captivating ambiguity, Tiger Falls transports us into the depths of nature, inviting the viewer’s eye to follow the cascades of paint in motion.


Tiger Falls

signed, titled and dated '“TIGER FALLS” Frank Bowling 1980' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
117.5 x 64.5 cm (46 1/4 x 25 3/8 in.)
Painted in 1980.

£40,000 - 60,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £75,000

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova

Director, Specialist
Head of Day Sale
44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 28 June 2019