Wilhelmina Barns-Graham visited Switzerland in 1948 and painted a series of drawings, prints and paintings based on her experience of climbing the huge glaciers at Grindelwald. These pictures mark a pivotal point in the artist’s career. Glacier Crystal
reveals her commitment to conveying a real sense of place and reverence for nature; something which she continued to pursue throughout the 1950s.
Glacier Crystal, Grindelwald
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 51.4 × 60.9 cm Tate. Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1964 © Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham CBE (1912 – 2004) was one of Britain’s foremost abstract artists. Born in St Andrews, Scotland, she moved to St Ives in 1940, where she became an influential figure in the group of modernist artists based in the town. Her paintings fused abstraction with representational imagery, often inspired by the dramatic Cornish landscapes and other places she visited. She was concerned with capturing the emotion of a place; of describing not just the formal qualities of landscape but the feelings evoked. From the 1960s, her work became markedly abstract, defined by strong geometric forms and a powerful dynamism. Later paintings were freer and more expressionistic.