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© Whitford Fine Art 2017

John Plumb (British 1927-2008)

A groundbreaking British abstract painter, Plumb studied at Luton School of Art 1942-1945, the Byam Shaw School 1948-1950 and the Central School 1952-1955, under Anthony Gross, Victor Pasmore, William Turnbull and Keith Vaughan. It was while he was studying that he met and married Joan Lawrence.

Success came quickly for Plumb. He represented in the AIA abstract exhibitions of 1953 and 1957, in Situation exhibitions 1960 -1961, alongside Bridget Riley, William Turnball, Robyn Denny and notable others and in a group exhibition at Leverkusen, 1961. Group exhibitions since this date included British Painting 1974, Hayward Gallery, London and Art & the 60s: This Was Tomorrow, Tate Britain, 2004. He taught at Luton School of Art 1955-1961, Maidstone College of Art 1961-1966, and Bennington College, Vermont 1968-1969. He became Senior Lecturer in Painting at the Central School of Art and Design, London 1969-1982.

At that time Plumb was making bold, handsome, and colourful compositions, in which what appeared to be the results of rigorous discipline - chiefly hard-edged shapes of a single hue together with an immaculately crafted finish - had been produced by methods that were partly improvisational. In this the use of coloured adhesive tapes, manufactured for the electrical industry and acquired for Plumb by the radio tycoon and art collector E.J. Power, was crucial. They could be applied to the canvas and as easily removed and reapplied until the right position and combination was achieved. Plumb's work already reflected an admiration for American colour field and hard edged painting, though it was never imitative and was always developing. The tapes soon disappeared, replaced by bold, hard-edged shapes interrupted in places by marks imitating broad, gestural brushstrokes. By the mid-1960s Plumb was producing large fields of a single colour with narrow, sometimes scarcely visible, margins of other colours intended optically to modify the effect.

His first one-man exhibition was at Gallery One in 1957. He subsequently showed at Marlborough and Axiom Galleries, followed by solo exhibitions throughout the UK, including Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol.

Solo Exhibitions
2002, The Atkinson Gallery, Millfield, Street, Somerset
1997, Burton Art Gallery, Bideford, Devon; Landscape to Abstraction - 1985 to 1997 and Hatherleigh Festival, Devon
1995, Plough Arts Centre, Torrington, Devon
1993, Bath Contemporary Art Fair with Artwenty
1990/85, Bohun Gallery, Henley-on-Thames
1973, Commonwealth Arts Centre Gallery, London
1970, London Arts Gallery, London
1968, Axiom Gallery, London
1967, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol
1966, Galerie Le Zodiaque, Brussels and Axiom Gallery, London
1965, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
1964, Gallerie Muller, Stuttgart and Marlborough New London Gallery, London
1961, Molton Gallery, London
1959, New Vision Centre Gallery, London
1957, Gallery One, London; New Vision Centre Gallery, London

Group Exhibitions
2005, - British Abstract and Constructed Art 56/66 - JHW Fine Art & Tadema Gallery, London; Metamorphosis, British Art of the Sixties, Museum of Contemporary Art, Andros
2004, Art & the 60s: This Was Tomorrow, survey exhibition at Tate Britain, London
2002, Tate Unseen, an exhibition of work by living artists from the Tate collection, at The Gallery, Lincoln
2002, Hydrastructure - What it is John, owned by the Tate, from 4 to 18 February at Tate Britain to celebrate the artist's 75th birthday
2000, The Discerning Eye Exhibition, The Mall Galleries, London, SW1 - at the invitation of the critic Frank Whitford
1999, Pictures to Live With, The Millinery Works, Islington, London
1998, British Art 1945-1965, England & Co. Gallery, London
1996, Westward Ho! Art Society, Burton Art Gallery, Bideford
1994, Plough Arts Centre, Torrington, Devon, Westward Ho! Art Society, Burton Art Gallery, Bideford
1993, The Sixties Art Scene in London, Barbican Gallery, London; Post-War British Abstraction, Redfern Gallery, London; The 1960s - England & Co Gallery, London; The Collage Show, England & Co Gallery, London; Art Expo, Budapest
1992, Summer Exhibition, New Art Centre, Knightsbridge, London; British Abstract Art of the 50s and 60s, Belgrave Gallery, London
1991, Water's Edge, Bohun Gallery, Henley-on-Thames; Art Fair 1991, Royal College of Art, London
1990, Art 90, Olympia, London
1988, - Artists by Themselves, Bohun Gallery, Henley-on-Thames; Britain's Painters, 1988, The Mall Galleries, London; Inaugural Exhibition, Caxton House Gallery, Tenterden
1984, New Vision 1956-66, Bede Gallery, Jarrow, Tyne and Wear; and London
1983, Three Decades of Artists from Inner London Art Schools, Royal Academy Diploma Galleries
1977, Jubilee Exhibition of British Painting 1952-1977, Royal Academy, London
1976, Colour, Southern Arts touring exhibition; House of Cards, JPL Fine Art Ltd Gallery, London
1974, British Painting 1974, Hayward Gallery, London; John Moores Exhibition 9, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Fourth British International Print Biennale, Bradford
1971, Drawings of Six Artists, Bolzano, Italy
1970, Prater Screenprints, Hayward Gallery, London
1968, Transatlantic Graphics, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Camden ArtsCentre, London, and touring Europe
1967, 9th Mainichi International Art Exhibition, Tokyo Biennale; Six Invited Artists, Scottish Society of Artists, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
1966, Contemporary British Art, Bradford City Art Gallery; New Forms of Shape and Colour, Stedlijk Museum, Amsterdam - and into 1967 touring West Germany; Metamorphosis, Figure into Abstract - The Sir Alfred Herbert Centenary Exhibition, Coventry
1965, Contemporary British Art, Bradford City Art Gallery; Signale, Kunstalle, Basle, Switzerland; and Studio F, Ulm, West Germany
1964, British Painting of Today, Kunstverein, Dusseldorf, West Germany; Carnegie International, Pittsburg, USA; Sammlung La Peau de l'Ours, Kunsthalle, Basle, Switzerland; Contemporary British Painting and Sculpture, Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo, USA
1963, Seven Young English Painters, Kunsthalle, Basle,Switzerland; British Painting in the Sixties, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Tredicesimo premio Lissone, Lissone and Milan, Italy; Gallery One Ten Years, London
1962, Hoyland, Plumb, Stroud, Turnbull, Marlborough New London Gallery, London; British Art Today, San Francisco; Dallas; Santa Barbara, USA
1961, New London Situation, Marlborough New London Gallery, London; New Painting in England, Leverkusen Museum, West Germany; Mural for International Union of Architects Congress, South Bank, London
1960, Situation, RBA Galleries, London
1950, The Observer Exhibition Portraits of Children at the RWS Galleries, London
1948, The New English Art Club, 101st exhibition at the RBA Galleries, London