Vibration of Space: Heron, de Staël, Hartung, Soulages at Waddington Custot in London


You have until the end of the month to visit Waddington Custot’s brilliant exhibition presented at their London outpost. Vibration of Space, celebrates the connections between abstract artists Patrick Heron, Nicolas de Staël, Hans Hartung and Pierre Soulages.

Taking Heron’s (b. 1920 Leeds, England; d. 1999, St Ives, England)  work and essay Space in Painting and Architecture (1953)as a starting point, Vibration of Space explores the artistic exchange between European and British artists in the post-war years, a period dominated by the emergence of American Abstract Expressionism.

In 1951, Heron visited the de Staël’s exhibition held at Matthiesen’s Gallery in London and this very moment proved to be a turning point in his career.  This fascination is implicit in the juxtaposition of Square Leaves (Abstract): July 1952, by Heron, with de Staël’s stunning little squares or oblongs of thick, brushed paint.

In 1968, Alan Bowness (Director of Tate 1980–1988) recognised that the “very unpopular strand which the vertical paintings represented in 1957 has been seen to be a central issue to the development of painting in our time.”  Heron’s controversial early adoption and pioneering of these shapes, colours, and textures help rediscover this overlooked artist. De Staël, Hartung and Soulages provide a great paradigm to demonstrate Heron’s importance in both the history of European post-war art and within twentieth century art criticism.


Images: Bateau Gris, Nicolas de de Staël and installation views.
Copyright Waddington Custot Galleries.