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Sir Terry Frost - Celebration

Sir Terry Frost


Acrylic on canvas: 25(h) x 25(w) in / 63.5(h) x 63.5(w) cm
Inscribed on the reverse: Celebration 96

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Leamington Spa 1915 - 2003 Cornwall

Ref: BZ 194




Inscribed on the reverse: Celebration 96

Acrylic on canvas: 25 x 25 in / 63.5 x 63.5 cm

Frame size: 26 ½ x 26 ½ inches / 67.3 x 67.3 cm







Private collection, UK, 2006



‘I like spirals because they’re forever. If you walk along the coast, as I used to do a lot, you pick up shells and you see those shapes. They are always a growth form. The aboriginals use spirals in their art and animals have spirals in their movements; when the wind blows on the tails of sheep, for instance, they go into spirals. The whole thing is part of life.’[1] Terry Frost



In this bold, triumphant canvas, Terry Frost depicts a large single spiral of black and royal blue, curling around a field of light and dark green, filling and pushing against the square canvas, which seems barely able to contain it. In his monograph on the artist, Chris Stephens writes, ‘For some of his boldest works of later years, Frost reverted to a form that was not only one of the earliest in his own work, but one of the most fundamental in visual culture: the spiral…Though they were apparently inspired by a visit to the seemingly timeless landscape of the Arizona desert, Frost was also aware of their use by many early cultures, and particularly of their role in Celtic art. His statement, ‘spirals are forever’, suggests both their holistic, apparently endless form, and their longevity as a symbol. He went on to say, however, that, as a result, ‘you know that you belong to forever.’ Again, apparently decorative motifs were employed as symbols of one’s place in existence. So, many of Frost’s late works showed a refined simplicity, a reduction to primary colours and one of the most ancient of visual forms. Typically, as a result, they combine a joyful dynamism with an invocation of the natural and of ancient culture. As Frost approached his eightieth birthday, his work seemed to become even more celebratory and Dionysian...It seemed as if old age made Frost’s output not merely more colourful but more audacious in its simplicity and its combination of discordant and complementary colours.’[2]


David Lewis, a friend of Frost and the former husband of Wilhelmina-Barns Graham, noted of the symbol in his own celebratory tribute to the artist, ‘they have run like a thread through his work. He has seen them in many sources from Arizona to the Alhambra and from whirling sheeps’ tails in a high wind to eddies in the receding tide…They resurface in powerful and heraldic form in the ‘Arizona’ triptych of 1990 and in a quiet, subtle way the Lorca etchings of 1989. In 1991 Terry began to make paintings of large spirals painted in a single sustained stroke.’[3]


[1] The artist cited in Terry Frost, Six Decades, exh cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2000, p.70.

[2] Chris Stephens, Terry Frost, St Ives Artists, Tate Publishing, London, 2000, pp.71-2.

[3] David Lewis, Terry Frost, Lund Humphries, Aldershot, 2000, p.225.

Other Works By
Sir Terry Frost:

Sir Terry Frost - Manitou


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