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Sir Frank Bowling RA (b. 1934)

Frank Bowling moved from Guyana to London in 1953. He won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art in 1959 and graduated in 1962 with both a Silver Medal in Painting and a travel scholarship which took him to South America and the Caribbean. He was a contributing editor at Arts Magazine from 1969 to 1972 and held teaching positions at many institutions, including lectureships at the University of Reading, Massachusetts College of Art, Rutgers, and Columbia University. Bowling was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2008, and received a knighthood for services to art in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in October 2020.

His early work was figurative and often described as expressionist, but from the mid 1960s his paintings became more geometric. He moved to New York in 1966 and started to concentrate on purely abstract pictorial issues relating to colour and composition. This transition from figuration to abstraction was accompanied by new working methods: his paintings became larger and he abandoned the easel, often pinning his canvases to his studio walls or floor.

Bowling was a leading Colour Field painter and colour dominated his work in the 1970s. The earthier hues of his figurative palette gave way to an exploration of high-key and lyrical colour. Spontaneity, chance, spilling, dripping and brushing became important working methods in the mid to late 1970s and Bowling began referring to his work as “poured paintings”. His recent work utilises a full range of colour and is marked by the artist’s periods of often intense experimentation with surface texture. He maintains working studios in London and New York.


Royal Academician


Born: 1934 in Bartica, Essequibo, British Guyana

Nationality: British

Elected RA: 25 May 2005

Elected Senior RA: 1 October 2011

Gender: Male

Visit Sir Frank Bowling RA (b. 1934)'s website

Preferred media: Painting

Works by Sir Frank Bowling in the RA Collection

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Works associated with Sir Frank Bowling in the RA Collection

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Associated archives

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