Terry Frost, photo credits - David Odriscoll Squarespace

Terry Frost/ Terence Ernest Manitou Frost

United Kingdom 1915 - 2003

Abstract Art

Terry Frost
Terence Ernest Manitou Frost
Male
United Kingdom
1915

Recognized as one of Britain’s most successful post-war abstract artists, Sir Terry Frost RA was known for his passionate use of circles and lines in his work, as well as for his association with the St Ives School. Abstract and joyful, his paintings – notorious for their exuberance and strong color – reflect the inspiration he found in the Cornish light, glittering seas and watery reflections. Amongst painting, the artist also experimented with collage and construction, sculpture, etching, linocut, woodcut, drypoint, etching, and jewelry design.

Terry Frost - Spirals, 1991 (Left) / Orchard Tambourine B Complete Portfolio, 2002 (Right)
Terry Frost – Spirals, 1991 (Left) / Orchard Tambourine B Complete Portfolio, 2002 (Right), photo credits – Wikiart

Prisoner of War

Born Terence Ernest Manitou Frost, on October 13, 1915, into a working class family in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, Terry Frost grew up in a house on Rugby Road and was brought up by his grandmother. The artist attended the Central School on Leicester Street and did many different jobs in the town before World War II began in 1939, and he was mobilized. He served in France, Palestine, Lebanon and, with the Commandos, in Sudan and Crete. During the invasion of Crete in 1941, Sir Terry Frost was captured and became a prisoner of war. As a prisoner at Stalag 383 in Bavaria, Germany, he met a Burma-born British artist Adrian Heath who encouraged Frost in his artistic pursuits, so he began to draw and paint under Heath’s guidance. With no art supplies, the young artist had to improvise so he could practice painting – he used oil from cans of sardines to make paint, horse hair to make brushes, and a pillowcase suited as a canvas.

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Terry Frost – Blue Harbour, 1953, photo credits – Christies

St Ives Artist Colony

After his eventual release at the end of the war, Terry returned to Leamington where he married Kathleen Clarke and went on to study at the St Ives School or Art, followed by Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts (now known as Camberwell College of Arts), under William Coldstream and Victor Pasmore. Coldstream promoted figurative painting and a rootedness in representation, whilst Pasmore was by then moving from representational approaches to an exploration of abstraction. Despite his early work being figurative, under the guidance of Victor Pasmore and under the influence of the St Ives established artists including Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, and Peter Lanyon, Sir Terry Frost shifted to abstraction, producing more three-dimensional work, experimenting with collage and constructions. By 1949, Frost had turned entirely to abstraction. The same year, Sir Terry Frost painted Madrigal which is recorded as his first successful abstract painting, based on the poem Madrigal by Wystan Hugh Auden. In 1951, Frost worked as Barbara Hepworth’s assistant on Contrapuntal Forms (1951) for the Festival of Britain.

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Terry Frost – Yellow Triptych, 1959, photo credits – Wikiart

Walk Along the Quay

During the 1950’s, Frost’s colours brightened, his paint thickened, and his forms evolved into endless variations of abstracted boat and harbour shapes. Many of his paintings developed in the early 1950s were inspired by scenes from his walks along the quay in St Ives where he lived, resulting in the series Walk Along the Quay which established Frost as a major figure in Post-War British abstraction. Walk Along the Quay confirmed Frost’s thesis that the interplay of colour and shape could realise an event or image more successfully than imitation.

Walk Along the Quay series established Sir Terry Frost as a major figure in Post-War British abstraction

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Terry Frost – Walk Along the Quay, 1951, photo credits – BBC (Left) / Walking Down the Quay St Ives, 1954, photo credits – Peter Scott Gallery (Right)

Terry Frost and Leeds

Sir Terry Frost began teaching at Bath Academy of Art in 1952 and had his first solo exhibition in London at the Leicester Galleries the same year. In 1956, he moved to Yorkshire as Gregory Fellow at Leeds University, where many of Frost’s works were inspired by his professed desire to create an “abstract image-equivalence” for his experiences. The same year, he was inspired by the Tate’s show of the American Abstract Expressionists. The city of Leeds and the Yorkshire landscape – particularly the imposing forms of the Dales – had the key role in informing the artist’s work, ideas, and creative development. His large-scale paintings such as Blue Winter (1956) and Orange and Black, Leeds (1957) were created in response to the Yorkshire Dales. In 1960, Frost had his first international one-man in New York at the Barbara Schaefer Gallery and during this time, he met some of the leading American Abstract Expressionists.

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Terry Frost – Blue Winter, 1956, photo credits – Artfund

Red, Black and White

In Sir Terry Frost’s famous piece Red, Black and White (1967) – inspired by the Yorkshire moors – the two semi-circles were painted with the canvas on the floor and Frost standing over it, painting away from his body. He also painted on wood and – influenced by the Russian Constructivists – used collage in works such as SS99 (1962-1963). In the following years, Frost began teaching at Reading University where he later became Professor of Painting. In 1974, Sir Terry Frost moved permanently to Newlyn in Cornwall where his love of the region provided a rich source of inspiration for much of his work – the sun, moon, water, boats and the female form are recurring motifs abstracted into sensuous circles and curves.

Terry Frost - Red Black and White, 1967 / June, Red and Black, 1965 visit
Terry Frost – Red Black and White, 1967, photo credits – Pinterest (Left) / June, Red and Black, 1965, photo credits Tate

Terry Frost: Six Decades

During Frost’s sixty years long career his work has been included in numerous individual and collective exhibitions worldwide, including in Paris, London, New York, Manchester, and Zurich. A major retrospective of his work, Terry Frost: Six Decades, was held at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2000. His work is held in many notable collections throughout the world including British Museum, London; Tate Gallery, London; National Gallery of Canada; National Gallery of New South Wales, Australia; and Victoria and Albert Museum, London, among others. A selection of the artist’s most significant paintings, collages, and sculptural forms from public and private collections across the UK was included at Sir Terry Frost 1915-2003, solo show at Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange in Penzance from October 10, 2015, to January 9, 2016. The retrospective was curated by Tate St Ives.

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Terry Frost – Thamar and Amnon, 1989 (Left) / The Spinster at Mass, 1989 (Middle)/ Tree, Tree, 1989 (Right) – photo credits – Tate

Master of Form and Color

After Sir Terry Frost, his wife, Kathleen, and their five sons and one daughter, finally settled in Newlyn in 1974, he continued to create a range of paintings, prints, ceramics, sculpture and designs for jewelry until the end of his life. He died on September 1, 2003, aged 87. Seeking to draw essential forms and colors from the landscape around him, he created numerous abstract pieces demonstrating his confidence and mastery of form and color. Sir Terry Frost was awarded the John Moore’s Prize in 1965, elected an Academician by the Royal Academy (RA) in 1992, and knighted in 1998.

All images © Estate of Terry Frost

YearExhibition TitleMuseum/Gallery Solo/Group
2016Modern British Abstract ArtWaterhouse & Dodd, LondonGroup
2016London Original Print Fair 2016London, UKGroup
2015Sir Terry Frost 1915-2003Newlyn Art GallerySolo
2015London Original Print Fair 2015London, UKGroup
2015London Art Fair 2015Waterhouse & Dodd, LondonGroup
2014British Art FairWaterhouse & Dodd, LondonGroup
2013A Painter's LifeBelgrave Gallery St IvesSolo
2012Terry Frost: Between Sun & MoonBeaux Arts, London Solo
2010Terry Frost: A Lover of LifeBeaux Arts, London Solo
2009Five Decades of Terry Frost (Prints)Stoneman Graphics Gallery, PenzanceSolo
2009Works on Paper from the Artist’s StudioBelgrave Gallery, St IvesSolo
2009A Select Exhibition from the Arts Council CollectionYork Art GalleryGroup
2008Terry FrostBeaux Arts, LondonSolo
2007Terry FrostBeaux Arts, LondonSolo
2006Irving, Hoyland, FrostChateau de Sours, FranceGroup
2003Terry FrostBeaux Arts, LondonSolo
2003Painting Not PaintingTate St IvesGroup
2002Terry FrostBelgrave Gallery, LondonSolo
2002Terry FrostStrand Gallery, AldeburghSolo
2002Terry FrostBadcocks Gallery, NewlynSolo
2002Terry FrostRussell Cotes Museum, BournemouthSolo
2002Square RootSarah Myerscough Fine Art, LondonGroup
2002Summer 2002Beaux Arts, LondonGroup
2001Terry FrostMaison des Arts, Colle sur Loup, FranceSolo
2000Terry Frost: Six DecadesRoyal AcademySolo
2000Terry FrostBeaux Arts, LondonSolo
2000Summer 2000Beaux Arts, LondonGroup
1998Terry FrostBritish Council, New YorkSolo
1997Terry FrostBelgrave Gallery, St IvesSolo
1995Terry FrostMcGeary Gallery, BrusselsSolo
1995Terry FrostNewlyn Art GallerySolo
1995Here and NowSerpentine GalleryGroup
1995British Abstract PaintingFlowers EastGroup
1995UnknownMcGreary Gallery, BrusselsGroup
1995UnknownNewlyn Art GalleryGroup
1994Terry FrostAdelson Gallery New YorkSolo
1993Terry FrostAustin Desmond Fine ArtSolo
1993Terry FrostTate Gallery St IvesSolo
1989Terry FrostMayor GallerySolo
1989Terry FrostBelgrave GallerySolo
1989The Presence of PaintingSouth Bank CentreGroup
1986Terry FrostUniversity of Reading and Newlyn Art GallerySolo
1986Looking WestNewlyn Art Gallery and the Royal College of ArtGroup
1985St Ives, 1939-1964Tate GalleryGroup
1984Landscape in BritainArts Council, Hayward GalleryGroup
1984English ContrastsArt Curial, ParisGroup
1984Frost, Paraskos, CharalambidesGloria Gallery, NicosiaGroup
1982Terry FrostGloria Gallery, NicosiaSolo
1980Terry FrostNew Art CentreSolo
1980Pictures for an ExhibitionWhitechapel GalleryGroup
1977British Painting 1952-1977Royal AcademyGroup
1977Pier Art Gallery exhibitionTate GalleryGroup
1977Cyprus Summer School staff exhibitionGallery Zygos, NicosiaGroup
1976Terry FrostSerpentine GallerySolo
1974British Painting 1974Arts Council, Hayward GalleryGroup
1971Terry FrostInstitute of Contemporary ArtsSolo
1970Terry FrostPlymouth City Art GallerySolo
1970British Painting, 1960-1970National Gallery of Art, WashingtonGroup
1969Terry FrostMuseum of Modern Art, OxfordSolo
1969John Moores Liverpool 7Walker Art GalleryGroup
1968British Art TodayHamburg KunstvereinGroup
1967Recent British Painting, Stuyvesant Collection exhibitionTate GalleryGroup
1966Blow, Frink and FrostPrestons Art Gallery, BoltonGroup
19663rd Open Painting ExhibitionUlster Museum, BelfastGroup
1965John Moores Liverpool 5Walker Art GalleryGroup
1965Frost, Heron, Hilton, WynterWaddington GalleriesGroup
1965Peter Stuyvesant Foundation collection purchasesWhitechapel GalleryGroup
1964Terry FrostGalerie Charles Lienhard, ZurichSolo
1964Terry FrostLaing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon TyneSolo
1964Contemporary British Painting and SculptureAlbright-Knox Art Gallery,Group
1964Buffalo 1954-1964: Painting and Sculpture of a Decade, Gulbenkian Foundation CollectionTate GalleryGroup
1963British Painting in the SixtiesCAS at the Tate and Whitechapel GalleriesGroup
1963John Moores Liverpool 4Walker Art GallerieGroup
1962Kompass IIStedelijk van Abbe Museum, EindhovenGroup
1962British Art of the 20th CenturyGulbenkian Foundation, LisbonGroup
1962British Art TodaySan Francisco Museum of ArtGroup
1961Terry FrostWaddington GalleriesSolo
1961The 21st International Watercolour ExhibitionBrooklyn Museum, New YorkGroup
1961John Moores Liverpool 3Walker Art GalleryGroup
1960Terry FrostBertha Schaeffer Gallery, New YorkSolo
1959John Moores Liverpool 2Walker Art GalleryGroup
1958Pittsburgh BicentennialCarnegie InstituteGroup
1958Guggenheim InternationalNew YorkGroup
1958Gregory Fellowship exhibitionBradford City Art GalleryGroup
1957British ArtGalerie Creuze, ParisGroup
1957New Trends in British ArtRome, New YorkGroup
1957John Moores Liverpool 1Walker Art GalleryGroup
1956Recent Abstract PaintingWhitworth Art Gallery, ManchesterGroup
195550 Years of British ArtBritish Council TourGroup
1954Abstract, Cubist, Formalist, SurrealistRedfern GalleryGroup
1953Space in ColourHanover GalleryGroup
1952Terry FrostLeicester GalleriesSolo
1952CAS ExhibitionThe Tate GalleryGroup
1952British Abstract ArtGalerie de France, ParisGroup
1951Danish, British and American abstract artRiverside Museum, New YorkGroup
1951Abstract ArtGimpel FilsGroup
1944Terry FrostLeamington Spa LibrarySolo