Anthony Benjamin (1931 – 2002)
Anthony Benjamin was born in Boarhunt, Hampshire, He dropped out of an engineering apprenticeship in 1949 to study art at the Regent Street Polytechnic, an education that was complemented by three months’ studying drawing in Paris with Fernand Léger. When he graduated in 1954, he was working in a social realist style and exhibited at the Beaux Arts Gallery, the London home of the ‘kitchen sink’ artists. In1955 he moved to a cottage on the Cornish moors near St Ives. St. Ives had been dominated by the influence of Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth but by 1956 the “Middle Generation” of Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, Bryan Wynter and Terry Frost were becoming well established in Britain and were soon to be known in New York. Lanyon persuaded Benjamin to join the Newlyn Society of Artists, which he had set up as a reaction to the Penwith Society of Arts where Benjamin had his first one man exhibition in 1958.
Like Lanyon, he produced paintings abstracted from the Cornish landscape and sea, but with an expansiveness that revealed an early appreciation of the American abstract expressionists, whose work was being seen in Britain for the first time. In 1958 he was given a one man show at Newlyn Art Gallery but his time in Cornwall was punctuated by a scholarship to study printmaking at SW Hayter’s legendary Atelier 17 in Paris.
Back In Cornwall, Benjamin met a young Canadian artist, Nancy Patterson, and In 1960 he was awarded an Italian government fellowship. They left Italy for London in 1961 and six years later moved to Canada and the USA to teach.
Throughout the period from the late 1960s he had embarked on an impressive series of international one man exhibitions, and a major show of his work took place at Gimpel Fils in 1994.
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