Robyn Denny and Richard Smith were part of a ‘golden generation’ of young artists who graduated from the Royal College of Art in the late 1950s and early '60s, who ike their counterparts from Goldsmith's 30 years later, these Young British Artists left art school to almost instant success, at both home and abroad. Unlike previous generations of British art students who had looked longingly toward Paris, they looked to American art and culture for inspiration – from the sheer power and ambition of Abstract Expressionism to Pop’s engagement with a new, consumer world. In 1959, Denny and Smith, along with their friend and contemporary Ralph Rumney, created Place
, an exhibition in which their paintings were bolted together to form a structure through which the viewer was invited to walk, to experience their paintings physically, as an environment. The Evening Standard
art critic couldn’t restrain his indignation: London had certainly never seen anything like it.
The following group of works, all taken from Denny’s private collection, speak not only to the high points of Denny’s career – specifically his show at the Venice Biennale in 1966 and his 1973 Tate retrospective – but also to an enduring friendship, over 50 years, between two young artists who found themselves at the epicentre of an explosion in British art and culture.