Peter Lanyon's Gliding Paintings

Peter Lanyon, Glide Path, 1964, oil and plastic on canvas, 60 x 48 inches (court
Peter Lanyon, Glide Path, 1964, oil and plastic on canvas, 60 x 48 inches (courtesy of The Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester)

Sam Cornish reviews Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon’s Gliding Paintings at The Courtauld Gallery, London, on view through January 17, 2016.

Cornish writes: "In general, Lanyon’s realism is seen as an embodied one, concerned with the experience of a particular place at a particular time, in which artist and landscape are figured as completely bound up with each other – land, sky and weather thrown into the melee of an individual consciousness, this consciousness simultaneously the arena that binds the environment together... In line with an understanding of Lanyon as a realist painter is an understanding of changing subject matter as the chief cause of the changing look – for want of a better word – of Lanyon’s painting. The 'place' pictures of the 50s (not included in the exhibition), with their jumbles of Cornish hills, mines and cliffs, precede the 'glider' paintings, with the gap between the two occupied by the 'weather' pictures: the shift correlates with a movement upwards, away from the ground. Instead of earth colours, the clear icy blue of the sky. Instead of hills, mines and cliffs, flurries of marks indicate the thermals gliders rely on to ascend, or lines trace their flight paths through the sky."