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Red Conservatory (1979–80)

John Walker

oil on canvas

Ulster Museum (National Museums Northern Ireland), Belfast


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Oil, Canvas

Physical Object Description:

Large painting with focus on a large, red, slightly twisted form and its shadow


211 x 161 cm

Accession Number:



Gifted by Dasha Shenkman through the Contemporary Art Society, 2015



Ownership history:

Purchased from Nigel Greenwood Inc Ltd by Belle Shenkman (1928-1995), 1980; gifted by Dasha Shenkman to the Contemporary Art Society, 2015; presented to Ulster Museum, National Museums Northern Ireland, Belfast, 2015


Abstract, Form
John Walker reinterpreted cubist collage on a massive scale through layering shapes of painted and cut-out canvas. Following his receipt of the Harkness Fellowship and during the 1970s he began to split his time between England and the US. Early works from this time look to the American models of abstract expressionism and post-painterly abstraction. Later in his career he was likewise influenced by his travels in Australia. He commented that his paintings were always ‘a piece of me. Whatever I’m into at that time.’ In the late 1970s and early 1980s, his work increasingly referred to earlier painted images and Red Conservatory (1979–80) is one of a group of canvases that make direct allusion to the work of Spanish master Francisco Goya. Known as the Alba paintings they make abstracted reference to Goya through their central motif, which is taken from the shape of the Duchess of Alba’s standing figure and pointed hand in Goya’s paintings of his muse.

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Artworks by John Walker

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