This is a museum-quality minimalistic abstract drawing by the celebrated British artist, Alexander Mackenzie (1923 - 2002). He was a member of the St Ives School - and his work is much sought after.
He was born in Liverpool in 1923 - and died in Penzance in 2022. He worked mainly in Cornwall - but also made regular sketching trips to Cumbria.
In 1950, immediately after graduating from Liverpool College of Art, he moved to Cornwall, where he soon established close relationships with many artists, including Patrick Heron, John Wells, Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. He was based there for the rest of his life.
Mackenzie was a regular visitor to Nicholson at Trezion, the house perched amid the rooftops of St Ives from which many famous drawings and etchings were done. Mackenzie exhibited at the Redfern Gallery in London, and from 1959 to 1963 had a succession of exhibitions at Waddington Galleries. A selection of his works was acquired for the Arts Council and the Tate.
In 1964 (the year after producing this study) he was invited to become a senior lecturer at Plymouth College of Art, where he stayed for 20 years, ending up as Head of Fine Art.
This is a crayon and pastel drawing that Mackenzie made in 1963. He has titled it lower left: 18 June 1963 and has signed it in black chalk lower right (in his neat hand), as photographed.
It is a second near identical version of a sheet known as June 1963 - which is currently in the collection of the Tate in London. The label text for the London variant states that the drawing "was part of a series (one of which I still possess) – a reclining figure / landscape idea. I made two paintings at the time – reclining landscape.
The Tate Study was included in the Summer Exhibition, Penwith Gallery, St Ives, 1963 (28) as ‘Drawing, June 1963’.
Alexander Mackenzie also makes reference to a drawing that he made entitled 18 June 1963 - in relation to the Tate Study. When the work was unframed it transpires that there was indeed a very similar work which was signed and dated 18 June 1963 underneath on a sheet of the same size.
In a later letter of 8 April 1978, the artist wrote: 'Both the drawings you refer to were done at the same time - as far as I remember a line did not look right so I redrew the whole thing - I did not realise that I had left it in as packing!
The artist has documented that he was making variants of the Tate composition and other works in the series - which explains the status of this variant by him. The Tate study is not titled or signed.
My sheet has bold lines drawn with a thick black crayon (taken lots of images of the lines in close-up). There is a rubbing of some light grey-brown pastel behind the lines to the extreme left-hand side - which looks like accidentally smudging on the paper - but is very much part of the artist's composition.
Image size is 35.5 x 47 cm. The frame is 54 x 65.5 cm
I have had this fine drawing professionally re-framed for the market - it has a nice simple wooden frame and the edge of the window mount has a decorative black bevelled edge which echoes the fine black lines of the composition.
It is a fine minimalistic and typically austere work by one of the great mid-century St Ives artists - and will look fabulous on display in a more minimalistic interior with monochrome decoration.
Incidentally, David Bowie was an avid collector of works by St Ives artists - and owned a couple of works by Mackenzie acquired directly from the artist in his collection.