Richard Allen British, 1933-1999


Born in Worcester, Richard Allen trained firstly as an agricultural engineer. After National Service, he attended Worcester Art School, going on to Bath Academy of Art in 1957. Howard Hodgkin and Martin Froy were major influences while a student at Bath. Allen also drew inspiration from the abstract collage work of Adrian Heath and Gwyther Irvin. Their teaching methods led directly to his development as a mature abstract artist, recognised by his first public commission - a mural-scale mosaic for Chippenham College - undertaken whilst still a student at Bath.
After leaving Bath, Allen won a scholarship to study the historic mosaics at Ravenna, although he found more inspiration in industrial Milan, in particular in its building site hoardings.  Returning to London, he married a fellow student from Bath, Eve Laurens and began teaching at art schools alongside Bridget Riley and Allen Jones. 

Allen's mature work moved through a series of important phases. Early Pop poster collages drew directly from his stay in Italy, and by the mid-1960s he had developed his own form of Op (Optical) Art, showing with Michael Kidner and Bridget Riley. Experimentation with moiré (interference) effects followed, and his interest in pure abstraction led naturally to his joining the Matrix Group - an experimental movement linked to European Constructivism. Adopting the philosophy and methods of a systemic form of painting, he showed in the influential Matrix and Systems exhibitions in 1971 and 1972.

Allen explained: 'system as it exists in my work evolved slowly over a period of formal experiment and was due primarily to an innate necessity to work creatively within a personally acceptable range of formal limitations'.

In 1975 his achievements to date were recognised with a solo exhibition at the ICA, London, he showed a series of innovative monochrome paintings, made using his own technique which allowed him to paint with a charcoal suspension. By the end of the 1970s, Allen had gained an international reputation with exhibitions in Europe, Japan and the USA. Allen's work continued to develop throughout the 1980s and 1990s, mostly focussing on graphics and a final series of 'White Paintings'. He died in 1999, having suffered from Motor Neurone Disease.


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Find Richard Allen in the Tate Collection Tate Gallery


Solo Exhibitions

1967  University of Sussex, Brighton
1968  A. De Gruchy & Co, St Helier, Jersey
1971  Angela Flowers Gallery, London
1972  Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford
1974  Gallery Del Cavallino, Venice, Italy
1974  Salone L'Annunciata, Milan, Italy
1975  Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
1976  Galleria Bologna Due, Italy
1976  Galerie Nouvelles Images, The Hague, Netherlands
1978  RHOK Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
1979  Galerie S65, Aalst, Belgium
1979  Poole Fine Art, Basle International Art Fair, Switzerland
1980 Atelier De Recherche Esthétique, Caen, France
1981  Galerie Nouvelles Images, The Hague, Netherlands
1982  Gallery Takagi, Nagoya, Japan
1983  Art Centre, Aberystwyth
1985  University Art Gallery, Exeter
1988  Printworks Gallery, Chicago, USA
1989  Printworks Gallery, Chicago, USA
1990  Jersey Arts Centre, St Helier, Jersey
1996  RHOK Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
1998  University of Wales, Aberystwyth
1999  Jersey Arts Centre, St Helier, Jersey
1999  Flowers East, London
2008  Offer Waterman & Co, London

2011  Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

2012  At The Chapel, Bruton, Somerset


Public Collections
Arts Council of Great Britain
Government Art Collection
British Council
Ministry of the Environment
University of Wales, Cardiff
Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
Oxfordshire Education Authority
Southampton Museum & Art Gallery
Jersey Museum
Croydon Education Department
Peter Stuvysant Foundation
General Motors
Chase Manhattan Bank
Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Gemeent Museum, Arnhem, Netherlands
Ministry of Culture, Belguim
National Academy of Art, New Delhi, India
Museum of Modern Art, Skopje, Macedonia
Gallery Motte, Geneva, Switzerland
Fondazione Pagani, Milan, Italy
Rensselaer Institute, New York, USA
Hassalt Museum, Belgium
University of Indiana, USA
University of Vermont, USA
Bloomfield Art Association, Michigan, USA
Ruhr Regional Planning Authority, Germany
Museum of Modern Art, Lodz, Poland
Sears Vincent Price Gallery, Chicago, USA
Frito-Lay Corporation, Dallas, USA
Lake Shore Bank, Chicago, USA
Neiman Marcus, Pennsylvania, USA
Sterling Konez Corporation, New York, USA
Atlantic Richfield Corporation, New York, USA
Michael Rees Hospital, Chicago, USA
Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, Florida, USA