In 1998, Albert Irvin was elected a Royal Academician, shortly after publication of the first monograph on his work, Albert Irvin: Life to Painting by Paul Moorhouse. I remember the news providing the celebratory fizz to what was already, in Irvin style, a pretty exuberant launch dinner for the book at the Chelsea Arts Club. At 76, Bert Irvin had come of age.
Now in his 91st year, Irvin has a small show of gouaches at the University of Northumbria Art Gallery, Newcastle, all dating from his pre-RA period (1979-96) before his art was as widely known as it is today. Delicate, small-scale works on paper, they encapsulate many of the visual elements which were to mark out Irvin’s signature style in larger-scale paintings and prints. All for sale, they are a snip at just £3500 a piece.
In 1980 Irvin discovered screenprinting and has worked with Advanced Graphics London over more than 30 years to create a vibrant and accessible body of prints. This corpus of work is meticulously catalogued in Albert Irvin: The Complete Prints, my Book of the Week. In the final chapter of her introduction, Mary Rose Beaumont describes the making of Stratford, the limited-edition print produced to accompany a special edition of the book – a fascinating, collaborative process between technicians and artist which she describes as ‘a performance analogous to that of a small concerto, perfectly orchestrated, with a conductor to co-ordinate the players and a soloist who is perfectly attuned to the team behind him’. The musical analogy is highly relevant to an artist who has always felt a strong affinity between classical music and abstract painting.
Irvin’s Stratford will be included in an exhibition of Lund Humphries’ limited-edition prints at Sims Reed bookshop (25 April to 3 May 2013), opening to coincide with the London Original Print Fair, where you can buy a copy of the book packaged in a slipcase with the print (available during the exhibition at 10% discount). It’s a dynamic and painterly work despite its small scale – a perfectly distilled piece of Irvin.
Lucy Myers, Managing Director
Albert Irvin: The Complete Prints by Mary Rose Beamount. 2010. Hardback. 136 pages. 100 colour and 10 b&w illustrations. £35 / $70
Limited edition incorporating a colour screenprint with woodblock print, entitled Stratford, produced and signed by the artist in an edition of 250 exclusively for this publication. The print is packaged with the book in a slipcase. £250 / $500