Considered to be “a slow artist for a fast-moving world”, Anthony Whishaw RA is to celebrate his 90th year with a new book and Kickstarter campaign, starting this month, followed by an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in February.
One of the original artists of the Kensington and Chelsea art scene during the 1950s and 60s – once a hotbed for London creativity – Whishaw’s work has the rare ability to shift effortlessly between abstract and figurative works. Yet the sheer variety of themes depicted makes it difficult to attribute it to any specific movement or style.
For over 70 years, Whishaw has lived and worked in the same home and studio, based in the heart of Kensington. Purchased in 1957 with his wife and fellow artist, Jean Gibson, the couple raised two daughters, Zoe and Phoebe, there. In this respect, they championed the idea of ‘live-work spaces’ long before it became the fashionable concept it is today.
While rising property prices during the 1960s forced many of the city’s artists to flee West London, Whishaw stayed, quietly continuing his work. He is now one of the few artists from the original scene still in residence in the Royal Borough.
Whishaw studied at the prestigious Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art in the mid-1950s. In 1960, recognition came when the young artist appeared on the pioneering BBC TV arts programme Monitor, which featured rising stars of the day such as Melvin Bragg, John Berger and Ken Russell.
Over 70 years, Whishaw has exhibited throughout the UK and internationally. Among other achievements, some of his most significant career highlights include being elected as a Royal Academician in 1980, one of the highest accolades for any living artist, and a major exhibition in 1994 at The Barbican Centre.
Whishaw epitomises the idea of a quiet artist working in his studio day in, day out, completely undistracted. He has been known to work on drawings and paintings for