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Imperial War Museum acquires major William Crozier painting

'Bourlon Wood' heading to London's IWM
October 25, 2015

The Imperial War Museum have acquired William Crozier's 1962 painting, Bourlon Wood. One of Crozier's most significant and monumental paintings, the title refers to the infamous Bourlon Wood Memorial, a cemetery for Canadian troops killed in the final months of World War I. A visit to Bergen-Belsen, the infamous concentration camp outside Hanover, in the 1960s left an indelible mark upon Crozier's artistic practice. A haunting, evocative image of a skeleton lying in the midst of woods, the painting is a powerful amalgamation of morbidity and celebration of life through Crozier's use of a rainbow spectrum of bold colours applied in broad strokes. As Philip Vann commented, for Crozier, ‘The skeleton is still very much a sentient human being: vulnerable, dignified, alone and abandoned in a landscape of astonishing beauty.' 

 

Crozier was born in Glasgow to Irish parents and educated at the Glasgow School of Art between 1949 and 1953. On graduating he spent time in Paris and Dublin before settling in London, where he quickly gained a reputation as the 1950s equivalent of a Young British Artist through the early success and notoriety of his exhibitions of assemblages and paintings at the ICA, Drian and the Arthur Tooth galleries, with whom he had a long association. Profoundly affected by post-war existential philosophy, Crozier allied himself and his work consciously with contemporary European art throughout the 1950s and 1960s, towards European painters such as Dubuffet, Soulanges, Hartung and de Stael, rather than with the New York abstractionists. By 1961 Crozier was widely seen as one of the most exciting artists in London. He had his first one-man exhibition that year at Arthur Tooth and Sons which toured to the Kunstverein in Hannover the following year.In 1964 the Arts Council included his paintings in the exhibition Six Young Painters with David Hockney, Peter Blake, Allen Jones, Bridget Riley and Euan Uglow. In 1975 Crozier was grouped alongside Francis Bacon in the important exhibition Body and Soul at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

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