Terry Frost (1915-2003), a working-class lad who grew up in Leamington Spa, left school at fifteen, worked in a bike shop and spent four years of his young life a Prisoner of War in Bavaria, rose to become Sir Terry Frost RA, one of Britain’s most important and influential 20th-century artists and his work is iconic. Images of half and quarter circles, such as June, Red and Black 1965 in the Tate Gallery are instantly recognisable. Communicating emotion through colour and form was his mantra, and Austin/Desmond’s new exhibition at their gallery opposite the British Museum shows this off to dazzling effect.
Red with Black on the Side is a major retrospective which spans seven decades of Terry’s printmaking. The title of the exhibition derives from a lithograph of 1970 and makes play of Terry’s character and trademark colours – red for passion and black for a streak of mischief. The exhibition, curated by Dominic Kemp, author of the catalogue raisonné Terry Frost Prints (Lund Humphries 2010) is drawn entirely from Austin/Desmond’s fabulous collection. The gallery formed a close relationship with Terry in the early 1980s and most of the pieces on display were acquired directly from him during his lifetime. Many are unique and show how Terry used printmaking as a way of evolving his ideas by adding colour and experimenting with collage over a printed base.
Also present in the exhibition are three, up until now, unknown images and several rare, never before seen proofs. A fully illustrated catalogue has been produced, which works in tandem with the catalogue raisonné, and the exhibition runs from 12th May-30th June. There has not been so noteworthy a selling exhibition of Terry’s prints with as much range as this ever. It is an absolute must for collectors.