Albert Irwin (1922-2015) was born in Bermondsey, south-east London. He studied at the Northampton School of Art between 1940 and 1941, before being conscripted into the Royal Air Force as a navigator. On being demobbed he resumed his studies at Goldsmiths College (1946-1950),
where he would later go on to teach (1962-1983).
Irvin’s influences included Walter Sickert, Henri Matisse and JMW Turner, and he had his first solo show in Edinburgh, at the relatively advanced age of 38. He was an abstract expressionist painter who often worked on a grand scale, and his work became increasingly vibrant with age, reflecting his affirmative view of life and art. His paintings were distinguished by sweeps of colour, giving the illusion of depth, and the inclusion of dynamic marks and gestures produced by the handheld brush. He also used a large squeegee to push solid bars of colour across his canvases. In 1980 Irvin began screenprinting, a medium which allowed him to develop his characteristic style, and establish himself as one of Britain’s leading printmakers.
Irvin’s work was widely shown in the UK and internationally, by the Arts Council of Great Britain, and at the Birmingham City Art Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, London, Contemporary Art Society, Manchester City Art Gallery, Tate Britain, Victoria and Albert Museum and Warwick University Arts Centre, and in significant exhibitions in Ireland and Australia. In 1975 Irvin won a major Arts Council Award, and a Gulbenkian Award for printmaking in 1983. He became an RA in 1998, and was appointed OBE in 2013 for services to the visual arts.
- Richard Wolfe