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Derrick Greaves

(b. 1927)


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(1927– )

British painter and graphic artist, born in Sheffield. After an apprenticeship with a sign-writer, he studied at the Royal College of Art, 1948–52. While living and working in Italy from 1952 to 1953 he was strongly influenced by the Italian Social Realist Renato Guttuso. In the 1950s he was a leading figure of the Kitchen Sink School, depicting dour subjects including views of his home town (Sheffield, 1953, City Art Gallery, Sheffield). The member of the group he was closest to was Edward Middleditch, in collaboration with whom he painted a mural, The Four Seasons (1957), for Nuffield College, Oxford. He was the most openly political of the group, visiting Russia in 1957 with John Berger's ‘Looking at People’ exhibition, and was an early supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear disarmament. However, he became disillusioned with figurative painting because of its failure to reach a large audience. In 1959 he wrote ‘I made attempts to form a pictorial language from nature which would be easily accessible to all who cared to look. To do this in England at the present time…is, I have realised, aesthetic suicide.’ His realist paintings had used heavy impasto. Now his paint became thinner, recalling his early training as a sign-painter. His subsequent more abstract work tends to emphasize colour rather than texture and reflects his admiration for the late collages of Matisse and Ellsworth Kelly. He has taught at several art schools and from 1983 to 1991 was head of printmaking at Norwich College of Art.

Further Reading

J. Hyman, The Struggle for Realism (2002)

Subjects: Art.


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