Wilhelmina Barns-Graham is celebrated as one of the foremost British abstract painters of the 20th century.

She was born in St Andrews and studied at Edinburgh College of Art. In 1940 she moved to Cornwall and became a member of the St Ives School of artists, working alongside the painter Ben Nicholson and sculptor Barbara Hepworth, fighting to establish her reputation and receiving belated recognition. These two canvases from the 1950s illustrate key moments in Barns-Graham’s career. Rock Theme, St Just is based on the Cornish landscape close to St Ives, while White, Black and Yellow (Composition February) shows a more purely abstract composition. These paintings, the latest in a series of gifts made by the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust with Art Fund support, now join Tate’s collection and will be on display in any one of the gallery’s sites, including at Tate St Ives.


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