Leading the development of professional artists’ materials since 1832, Winsor & Newton has enabled generations of artists to express their creativity using the world’s finest products. Ranging from the heady inspiration of the sublime to the psychologically tortured, below are five artistic greats from across the ages who used our materials to create their masterpieces.
Edvard Munch (1863-1944)
Accustomed to the smooth finish of French salon paintings, the public laughed openly at the crude style of Munch’s early work. He went on to paint some of the most instantly recognisable images ever created, his paintings expressing his troubled and disturbed mind. Among them was a version of The Scream that sold for a record £74 million in 2012. Munch left a large bequest to the Museum of Oslo, including more than 250 tubes of his Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Colour.
LS Lowry (1887-1976)
Rent collector by day and painter by night, Lowry’s hugely popular paintings depicted the working class industrial life of his native north-west England. “I am a simple man,” he once said. “I use simple materials: ivory black, vermilion, Prussian blue, yellow ochre, flake white and no medium.” Lowry used only these five Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Colours all his life, favouring the relatively stiff consistency of the paints, as he used them straight from the tube.
Josef Albers (1888-1976)
A pioneer in both education and art, Albers taught at the legendary German Bauhaus school with Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee before emigrating to the United States in 1933. Appointed head of the design department at Yale University in 1948, he began a series of paintings, Homage to the Square, that explored the interaction of colours, enabling viewers to form their own optical experiences. Intensely interested in the quality of materials, Albers made extensive use of Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Colour, writing each product colour name and even the batch number on the back of his canvases. His paintings can be seen in leading museums around the world, including MOMA in New York and Tate Modern in London.
JMW Turner (1775-1851)
A precocious genius accepted into the Royal Academy Schools at the age of just 14, Turner’s lifelong and extreme obsession with the effects of nature drove him to be tied to the mast of a ship to experience the full force of a sea storm. This “painter of light” was a forerunner of Impressionism who used ever more brilliant and transparent colours to create his landscapes and seascapes. With a disdain for posterity, Turner knowingly employed pigments that would fade over time. When chastised for this by his good friend William Winsor, Turner replied, “Your business, Winsor, is to make colour. Mine is to use them.”
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944)
Mondrian created an extension of his geometric, ultra-modern paintings in his Montparnasse studio during his stay in Paris between 1911-14, which became a must-see location for visiting modernist artists. The writer and Michel Seuphor described the experience of entering Mondrian’s studio as stepping into another world, engendering “an incredible feeling of beauty, of peace, of quiet and harmony”. After moving to New York during the Second World War, Mondrian created his most famous works, including Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942-43). But the war deprived him of his paint of choice: he lamented to a friend, “It seems that most all the supply of Winsor & Newton paint is now exhausted in NY.”1
1. Charmion von Wiegand, unpublished journals, entry for September 16, 1941
*Lead image sourced from Wikipedia Commons