LONDON - One has only to flick through the catalogues of recent London Contemporary Art sales to see the dominance of American artists over this growing field, and today they are often as widely celebrated abroad as they are on their home turf. But this is still a relatively new development, as to assess the London art-scene before the Second World War one would struggle to find more than a handful of non-European names.

Patrick Heron in his studio with Vertical Blue and Indigo: 1962 in the background. Photograph by Jorge Lewinski © The Lewinski Archive at Chatsworth.

Much has been made of the Atlantic currents that ebbed and flowed between American Abstract Expressionists and British artists of the 1950s such as William Scott, Alan Davie and Peter Lanyon, but it was Patrick Heron, who, as an art critic was perhaps the most publically engaged with the wider impact of their work. Impressed by the bold, confident brushstrokes of Mark Rothko, and the brilliant ingenuity of Jackson Pollock, he saw many of these works for the first time at their viewing at the Tate in 1956, in what was to become a landmark exhibition of contemporary American painting – here he was ‘instantly elated by the size, energy, originality, economy and inventive daring of many of the paintings.’

Patrick Heron, Vertical Blue and Indigo: 1962. Modern & Post-War British Art, 18th November 2014, £250,000 – 350,000.

Vertical Blue and Indigo: 1962 was executed at a highly significant point of the artist’s career – marking the year of his second solo exhibition at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery in New York, it was also the beginning of the last of his ‘stripe’ paintings, marking the path through which his discs and lozenges emerged as if with a mind of their own, governed purely by the experience of sheer striking colour. Appearing for the first time at auction, it leads the forthcoming Modern & Post-War British Art sale at Sotheby’s London on 18th November, a sale that showcases the great breadth of the artist’s achievements and the development of his style, from early figuration through to bold abstracts of the 1980s.

Patrick Heron, Vertical Bands Oct: 58 – Feb: 59. Modern & Post-War British Art, 18th November 2014, £100,000 – 150,000.