Sir Terry Frost was a British abstract painter known for his use of bold, geometric shapes and bright colours to create dynamic compositions inspired by the Cornish landscape. If you’re looking for original Terry Frost prints and editions for sale or would like to sell, request a complimentary valuation and browse our network’s most in-demand works.
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Terry Frost was a British abstract painter whose artwork was informed by his love of colour, light, and form. Born in October 1915, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, Frost's artistic journey began not in the classroom but on the battlefield. As a soldier during World War II, he was captured in Crete and spent four years as a prisoner of war in Germany. It was during this time that Frost discovered his passion for art, turning to sketching and painting as a way of escaping the harsh reality of his surroundings.
Returning to England in 1946, Frost was determined to pursue a career in art, enrolling at the Camberwell School of Art in London. While studying under painters such as Victor Pasmore and Ben Nicholson, Frost encountered the abstract style that would come to define his oeuvre. A chance meeting with the renowned St Ives artist Barbara Hepworth in 1949 led Frost to move to Cornwall, where he became part of the thriving artistic community.
Image © Sotheby's / Red, black and white, leeds © Terry Frost 1995
The exceptional artwork titled Red, black and white, leeds (1995) by Terry Frost achieved a groundbreaking sale price of £313,250 (fees included) during the highly anticipated auction at Sotheby's in November 2011. This remarkable achievement stands as a testament to the immense value and recognition garnered by Frost's oeuvre, marking it as his most expensive work ever sold.
The significance of Red, black and white, leeds lies in its embodiment of a pivotal phase in Frost's artistic journey, specifically his tenure as a teacher at Leeds University until 1957. It serves as a visual representation of his innovative response to the captivating Yorkshire landscape, diverging from his earlier works in St Ives that eloquently portrayed the rhythmic movements of the sea and boats through the use of semi-circular forms, which encapsulated the essence of the Cornish coastline.
In this particular piece, Frost employs a distinctive visual language, relying on vertical elements to convey the expansive nature of the landscape. The careful selection of a monochromatic palette, punctuated by vibrant red and orange hues, further accentuates the geometric abstraction present within the composition while also aligning with Frost's later artistic style. This harmonious amalgamation of form and colour evokes a sense of dynamism and depth, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the captivating world created by the artist.
Red, black and white, leeds stands as a remarkable testament to Terry Frost's artistic mastery and his ability to continuously push boundaries, both in terms of his personal artistic development and his exploration of the British artistic landscape.
Image © Sotheby's / Red, Black and White © Terry Frost 1957
Exemplifying Terry Frost's artistic prowess during his time at Leeds is Red, Black and White (1957). This artwork serves as a product of Frost's encounters with two influential abstract painters of the time, namely Sam Francis from the United States and Pierre Soulages from France, during his international travels. Drawing inspiration from these encounters, Frost combines elements from their respective styles to create a work of distinct character.
The influence of Soulages is evident in the bold presence of thick black brushstrokes, reminiscent of the French painter's signature technique. This element adds a sense of depth and texture to the composition while also conveying a certain emotional intensity. On the other hand, Frost's engagement with Francis is reflected in the meticulously executed dripping techniques observed in the vertical elements of the artwork. These techniques not only add dynamic movement to the piece but also evoke a sense of fluidity and spontaneity.
Despite its smaller size, Red, Black and White captivates viewers with its skilful arrangement of vertical forms extending from the outermost edges. Through this deliberate composition, Frost succeeds in capturing a panoramic vista framed by the underlying structure of the landscape. It is within this abstracted framework that Frost's brilliance shines as he harmoniously merges diverse perceptions of the surroundings into a cohesive visual narrative.
In 2018, this artwork achieved substantial recognition at Sotheby's in June 2019, fetching an impressive £250,000 (fees included).
Image © Sotheby's / Red, Black, and White © Terry Frost 1958
Red, Black, and White (1958) by Terry Frost is the third highest-selling artwork in his market, underscoring the enduring appeal of this series of works and their strong market demand. This particular piece, which achieved a notable sale at Sotheby's London in June 2021, commanded a price of £239,400 (fees included). Frost's signature monochromatic colour palette remains intact, with vibrant accents of red and blue incorporated into the composition. While the artwork is inherently abstract, Frost's masterful use of thick white crosshatching, complemented by the presence of vertical strands, imparts a three-dimensional quality, effectively breathing life into the visual elements that inspired its creation.
Image © Sotheby's / Red, Black and White, Winter © Terry Frost 1956