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Michael AYRTON 1921 - 1975

Biography

Born in 1921, Ayrton was primarily a sculptor, painter and printmaker. He studied art at Heatherley’s and St John’s Wood in London, but travelled widely throughout his life, living in Vienna in 1936 and spending some time in France, where he shared a studio with John Minton in Paris. He also worked in Chirico’s studio and in 1938 went to Les Baux with Minton and Michael Middleton. On his return to Britain, his writings and artworks found him loosely aligned with the Neo-Romantic movement, which involved a stronger concentration on spiritual and emotive elements. These ideals were in direct opposition to the popular movements of naturalism and modernism, common in the early 20th Century. While in Vienna he had been influenced by Flemish art, however by the mid 1940s influences of the neo-romantics Graham Sutherland and Paul Nash were increasingly visible. He began to sculpt in bronze in the early 1950s, gaining advice from Henry Moore. At this point his artistic focus moved to Greek mythology, particularly the legends of Daedelus and Icarus, the Minotaur, and the image of the labyrinth.  Although the examples here are not concerned with Greek myths, these works are imbued with a similar spirit of mysticism, resulting in strange and often melancholy images. As a whole, his work is characterised by a powerful combination of figurative and imaginative aspects.