The Spirit of Colour
written by Lou Klepac
Beagle Press | ISBN 9780947349400
Hardback – 216 pages
Member’s price: $108.00
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For over three decades from the late 1950s onwards, John Coburn's art impressed the widest public, both in Australia and overseas. His prolific output of paintings, prints and tapestries expressed an apparently endless artistic imagination. Over much of the same period he was a highly effective art educator. But that brilliant career was abruptly broken into, at the height of success, by personal tragedy and life-threatening illness resulting in serious physical disability. The artist's life and work up to that rupture has been the subject of several studies, but his subsequent deepening maturity and the stream of subtle masterpieces of the 'master of colour' call for new recognition and appreciation. To penetrate into Coburn's development in these years, the author proceeds through an investigation of the mysterious nature of colour itself; the determining events and influences of the artist's life including the early impact of the Australian landscape and his fascination with the work of painters such as Miro, Matisse and Rothko; the culmination of his refined technique and colour experience in the ground-breaking tapestries - and the impact of crisis in the mid-1980s. Returning, now, to the theme of colour and the artist, we are shown how unremitting artistic striving and the impacts of life, coalesce in the creative impulses which release the magnificent 'late works'. The book admits us to the artist's private studio, to join as onlookers in the production of these haunting works. The book contains 147 colour plates as well as documentary photographs and comprehensive biographical notes and exhibition lists.