William Crozier (1930-2011), 'Flanders Fields', 1962

William Crozier (1930-2011), 'Flanders Fields', 1962. © Estate of William Crozier

William Crozier (1930-2011)

Flanders Fields, 1962

© Estate of William Crozier

Oil on canvas, 127 x 127 cm
Signed, lower right: CROZIER (also inscribed on reverse)
Purchased, 2012
NGI.2012.24

Glasgow-born William Crozier is best-known in Ireland for the Irish inspired work he produced from the 1970s onwards. He was, however, a prominent figure in the London art world in the late 1950s and 1960s. He exhibited with, among others, David Hockney, Francis Bacon and Peter Blake, and could also count among his friends William Scott and, in Ireland, Patrick Kavanagh and Anthony Cronin.

Flanders Fields coincides with a particularly significant period, both professionally and creatively, in Crozier’s career. He had begun to look at American Gestural painting (and is known to have admired Willem de Kooning), but his work at this time compares more usefully perhaps with that of European painters Dubuffet, Soulanges, Hartung and de Stael. He held his first one-man show in 1961 at the gallery of Arthur Tooth and Son in London, an exhibition that toured to the Kunstverein in Hannover the following year. In 1964, the UK Arts Council selected Crozier alongside David Hockney, Peter Blake, Allen Jones, Bridget Riley and Euan Uglow for its 6 Young Painters exhibition. Crozier visited Ireland for the first time in the summer 1962. He became an Irish citizen in 1973, and from the early 1980s divided his time between Hampshire and Kilcoe in West Cork.

The title of this work is evocative rather than literal. The cowering spectral figure in the corner of the painting foreshadows the solitary skeletons that would inhabit many of Crozier’s paintings of the late 60s and early 70s. This painting has a universal quality that links it clearly with significant works in the NGI collection, most notably Jack B. Yeats’s Grief and Le Brocquy’s A Family (both 1951).

Examples of Crozier’s work can be found in public collections throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, IMMA, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, the V&A and the National of Australia.