Lanyon had taken up gliding five years earlier, supposedly as a means of extending his knowledge of the landscape. He was always an aware and intelligent artist and never more so than at the end of his life when the experience of sky and air added to his deep understanding of land and sea.
By the late 1950s, he had also begun to travel, first to New York and then further afield. His American experiences stimulated his interest in collage and construction and signalled a move away from the earthy greens and browns that characterised his earlier work. A new sense of colour and experiment came in, but still his work remained tied to the landscape, specifically to the shapes and forms of his native Cornwall and, in his very last paintings, to the strip of coast near Clevedon on the Severn Estuary.
The current show at Gimpel Fils concentrates on the final years, with three of his large, final paintings from August 1964 and one of the late constructions: a sculpture assembled from found odds and ends such as the head of a drain plunger and handle of a paintbrush. It is titled Field Landing, though it looks more like a premonition of the crash that was soon to claim his life. It's a fine selection and a reminder that Lanyon's sudden death was a significant loss to the history of painting in this country.
'Peter Lanyon, The Final Years': Gimpel Fils, 30 Davies Street, W1 (0171- 493 2488) To 28 MarReuse content