John Blackburn b. 1932

John Blackburn (born 1932) is a British abstract painter, who, after critical success in the 1960s, fell into relative obscurity until the early 2000s.

He was born in Luton and attended the Margate School of Art, where he studied textile design. After school, he served in the National Service (and later lived) in New Zealand, Malaysia, and the surrounding area from 1954 to 1962. In Auckland, New Zealand, he met his future wife, Maudie McKinnon. Soon after the couple married, they settled in Glenfield, New Zealand. It was in New Zealand that Blackburn started painting; he would paint in the garden, having become accustomed to the weather, but then later moved on to the North Shore. His paintings were exhibited at the Circle Gallery in Auckland, which established him as a “radical” painter, with his “simple, reduced strong forms in limited pure, unmixed colours.”

In 1962, Blackburn, with his wife and three children, returned to Britain, where the influential art collector and gallery owner Jim Ede saw his one-man show in London’s Woodstock Gallery. Impressed by what he saw, Ede offered Blackburn a place in his Kettle’s Yard gallery in Cambridge among artists including Peter Lanyon, William Scott, and Roger Hilton. Soon after, Blackburn’s ten-year-old daughter became ill and needed a kidney transplant. Blackburn volunteered, spending six months in intense physical training to prepare for the organ transplantation. The time spent before and after the successful surgery prompted Blackburn to drop from the public eye for a number of years. In 2006, Blackburn had a show at the Metropole Galleries in Folkestone; his work had not appeared in a commercial gallery since 1968. This led to a revival of interest in Blackburn’s body of work as he approached eighty-years old. Blackburn’s abstract paintings are now held in private and public collections worldwide. ... read more

John Blackburn The Human and the Abstract The Human and the Abstract

John Blackburn Paintings and Drawings

Composition JBW1, 1962/3

John Blackburn: Composition JBW1, 1962/3, 1962/3

Untitled (Forms – Grey/Blue)

John Blackburn: Untitled (Forms – Grey/Blue), 1963

Black L on Brown/White Square Bottom

John Blackburn: Black L on Brown/White Square Bottom, 1964

Untitled (Black & Grey)

John Blackburn: Untitled (Black & Grey), 1964

White L on Black Ground with Grey Rectangle

John Blackburn: White L on Black Ground with Grey Rectangle, 1964 re-worked 2000

Cross (Black on Brown)

John Blackburn: Cross (Black on Brown), 1969

Double Hostage No 5

John Blackburn: Double Hostage No 5, 1977

Masked Hostage No 13

John Blackburn: Masked Hostage No 13, 1979

Masked Hostage No 14

John Blackburn: Masked Hostage No 14, 1979

Masked Hostage No 2

John Blackburn: Masked Hostage No 2, 1979

Masked Hostage No 9

John Blackburn: Masked Hostage No 9, 1979

Untitled (Green Enclosed)

John Blackburn: Untitled (Green Enclosed), 2004

The February Pictures: No 11

John Blackburn: The February Pictures: No 11, 2005

Tin Bath

John Blackburn: Tin Bath, 2005

Blue, Black & White Circles

John Blackburn: Blue, Black & White Circles, 2009

Five Forms Imprisoned

John Blackburn: Five Forms Imprisoned, 2010

Grey Square with Cups

John Blackburn: Grey Square with Cups, 2010

And God Cryed

John Blackburn: And God Cryed, 2011/2012

Black Hill with Rain

John Blackburn: Black Hill with Rain, 2012

Pale Ochre Square Entering

John Blackburn: Pale Ochre Square Entering, 2012

Four White Squares I

John Blackburn: Four White Squares I, 2013

Four White Squares II

John Blackburn: Four White Squares II, 2013

Diptych (Battle)

John Blackburn: Diptych (Battle), 2014/2015

White Arrowhead

John Blackburn: White Arrowhead, 2016

Four Sections

John Blackburn: Four Sections, 2017

Three Part Hinge

John Blackburn: Three Part Hinge, 2017

Fire Painting I

John Blackburn: Fire Painting I, 2017/2018

Fire Painting IX

John Blackburn: Fire Painting IX, 2017/2018

Fire Painting VIII

John Blackburn: Fire Painting VIII, 2017/2018

Fire Painting XIII

John Blackburn: Fire Painting XIII, 2017/2018

Fire Painting XIV

John Blackburn: Fire Painting XIV, 2017/2018

Fire Painting XIX

John Blackburn: Fire Painting XIX, 2017/2018

Fire Painting XX

John Blackburn: Fire Painting XX, 2017/2018

Fire Painting XXII

John Blackburn: Fire Painting XXII, 2017/2018

Fire Painting XXIII

John Blackburn: Fire Painting XXIII, 2017/2018

Fire Painting XXIV

John Blackburn: Fire Painting XXIV, 2017/2018

Fried Egg 1963 Revisited

John Blackburn: Fried Egg 1963 Revisited, 2018

Multiple White and Pink Forms (Big Square)

John Blackburn: Multiple White and Pink Forms (Big Square), 2018

Abstract 1962 revisited

John Blackburn: Abstract 1962 revisited, 2019

Blue Mosaic with Cups

John Blackburn: Blue Mosaic with Cups, 2019

Blues/Blacks/Whites 1963 revisited

John Blackburn: Blues/Blacks/Whites 1963 revisited, 2019

Browns 1961 revisited

John Blackburn: Browns 1961 revisited, 2019

Two Shades Side by Side Grey and Ochre 1962 revisited

John Blackburn: Two Shades Side by Side Grey and Ochre 1962 revisited, 2019

Bottle with Two Forms

John Blackburn: Bottle with Two Forms, 2021

Turmoil with White Cross

John Blackburn: Turmoil with White Cross, 2022

Two Black Structures

John Blackburn: Two Black Structures, 2022


John Blackburn: Untitled, c.1964