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Sir Terry Frost RA, Red, Black and White

Red, Black and White, 1977

Sir Terry Frost RA (1915 - 2003)

RA Collection: Art

Against a white canvas, three overlapping lozenges in red, black and white are stacked vertically. Terry Frost began painting abstract pictures in 1948 and, working in St Ives alongside contemporaries including Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon and Roger Hilton in the 1950s, he established himself as a leading British abstract painter.

Frost travelled widely, often to teach at overseas universities, and it was while teaching in California in 1964 that he first discovered acrylic paint, the medium employed here. Using water-based acrylics, as opposed to oil paint, allowed Frost to paint smoother, matt surfaces, enhancing the simplicity of the textures he wished to create and what he called the ‘heraldic’ character of his paintings.

Red, black and white have been described as Frost’s ‘primary colours’ and he has returned to them throughout his career, whether responding to a snowfall in Leeds in 1955 or, later, responding to the poetry of Federico García Lorca. The combination of colours was also employed by the Russian abstract artists of the early twentieth century, such as El Lissitzky and Kasimir Malevich, whom Frost has described as his great influences. In an interview for the catalogue of his 2000 exhibition at the RA, he said simply ‘black and white and red I think are superb’.

Frost saw each of his works as part of a process, in which combinations of forms and colours evolved from one picture to the next. In the absence of figurative subject matter, for Frost the content of his work resided in the relationship of one ‘shape-colour’ to the next, working in series to explore different configurations.

This work is one of a series of works using red, black and red. A 1980 triptych by Frost, which comprised similar configurations of lozenges, included a red, black and white panel alongside panels in other colour combinations.

This work was submitted by Frost as his Diploma Work in 1992.

Object details

Red, Black and White
Sir Terry Frost RA (1915 - 2003)
Object type
Copyright owner
Acrylic and collage on canvas

1220 mm x 812 mm x 20 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by Sir Terry Frost RA accepted 1992
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