Sandra Blow

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Sandra Blow challenged the stereotypically masculine notion of abstract art during the 1950s.
Sandra played a major part in the community of artists in St Ives in the mid 20th century.
Sandra’s perfectly imbalanced pieces have been exhibited internationally, with retrospectives taking place at major galleries including Tate St Ives and the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

The late British artist Sandra Betty Blow (1925-2006) came to prominence in the 1950s as a pioneer of the British Abstract movement. Sandra enjoyed a prolific career spanning several decades, producing unique and emotive works incorporating rhythmic and constructed forms with a liberal use of colour.

Education and Early Career

Sandra was born in London but spent most of her childhood recovering from Scarlet Fever at her grandparents’ fruit farm in Kent. It was here that she discovered her passion for painting. Sandra enrolled at Saint Martin's School of Art between 1941-1946, and then shortly after the Second World War, the Royal Academy Schools, 1946-1947. The artist later studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome where she became acquainted with Italian visual artist Alberto Burri, a soon-to-be partner and lifelong influence on her style and approach. Upon her return to London in 1950, despite her youth, Blow began to assert herself in the artsphere and, before long, was spearheading the nation’s Abstract art movement.

Sandra Blow’s Style and Approach

Sandra introduced a new and expressive abstraction to the British arts scene and was one of the earliest and most original female artists challenging the "'macho' cult" surrounding abstract art in the 50s and 60s. Her informality and experimental use of cheap, discarded materials such as sawdust, sackcloth and plaster in collage and on canvas was met with intrigue and adoration. The painter’s original approach was rooted in rustic and visceral earthy textures. Her later works were stylised with a 60s optimism and panache, exchanging pastoral palettes for bright, bold and contrasting colours such as in abstract silkscreen print Interaction, (2000).

Exhibitions and Collections

Sandra’s relentless approach to printmaking and painting has been celebrated worldwide. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, she regularly exhibited with Gimpel Fils, a leading London gallery at the time. Since, Sandra’s oeuvre has been displayed and enjoyed internationally at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Venice Biennale, Italy, and more. Tate St Ives and the Royal Academy of Arts in London have held retrospectives of Sandra’s work, now treasured additions to the Arts Council Collection and Tate collection.

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