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The Holburne Museum opens the first museum retrospective of the painter Anthony Fry
Anthony Fry, Mango and Rice Paddies, Thirunelli, 1991, oil on canvas, 106 x 132 cm, © Permission kindly granted by the estate of Anthony Fry / Browse & Darby Ltd.


BATH.- The Holburne Museum is hosting the first museum retrospective of the painter Anthony Fry (1927-2016). Though he enjoyed commercial success in Britain and America during his lifetime, Fry has not previously been recognised by a major exhibition.

Including many works rarely seen in public, lent from prestigious private collections, this exhibition reveals the considerable extent of his incredible talent.

Fry was an artist who lived and worked near Bath for sixty years, but who made pictures that expressed his experience of international travel and the joy he derived from immersion in the cultures, rich colours and smells of different places around the world.

His early work, dominated by dancing figures, reflects the landscape of Tuscany. From the late 1980s, his painting is characterised by strong, intense colour, influenced by time spent in the sparse and sunny spaces of southern India, Morocco and the Sahara Desert, and Andalucía.

Like many of his generation, Fry sought a synthesis of the figurative tradition in which he had been trained (by William Coldstream and others at Camberwell School of Art) and abstraction, most notably that of Mark Rothko and Morris Louis, both of whom he hugely admired. Though based on real places and actual experiences and sights, Fry’s pictures were made from memory. His art was as much one of the imagination and the unconscious as it was of the outside world.

Critic John Berger said “Fry's pictures – like all good visual art – defy words. With words we cannot get nearer to them than a map can get to a landscape. We can enter them only with our eyes. Once within them, the eyes may tell the skin something. Once within, the eyes may see even with the eyelids shut.”

Anthony Fry was born in Essex, the son of a doctor and part of the Quaker, chocolate-manufacturing family. He had an early introduction to art through his great aunt Marjorie Fry, sister of the art critic Roger Fry. Through her he had contact with the Bloomsbury Group, and was also cousin to the painter Howard Hodgkin.

Dr Chris Stephens, Director of the Holburne Museum, said “I am delighted that the Holburne is able to mount Anthony Fry’s first museum retrospective. His fabulous art is rarely seen and deserves to be much better known. Fry was an artist who lived and worked near Bath for sixty years but who made pictures that expressed his experience of international travel. As a local artist with an international vision, Anthony Fry perfectly encapsulates our ambitions for The Holburne.”

The exhibition is curated by Chris Stephens along with Will Darby, a great authority on Anthony Fry. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue by Andrew Lambirth.






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