'Study for Laocoon 1' Michael Ayrton 1921 – 1975

'Study for Laocoon 1' Michael Ayrton 1921 – 1975

Circa 1968
Stock Number: 13099/GSO
Height 28.50 cm [0 ft 11 ins]
Width 43.00 cm [1 ft 5 ins]

Artist's Resale Right applies @ 4%

Pencil and Watercolour
Signed and inscribed
Date September 10, 1968
Michael Ayrton 10 / 9 / 68 Laocoon 1

Gift from the artist’s sketchbook

Michael Ayrton 1921 – 1975
Born Michael Ayrton Gould, he was variously; a
painter, a writer, a printmaker, a poet, an illustrator,
a sculptor, a set designer, a critic, a broadcaster and
a novelist. Ayrton, obviously very clever, was equally
opinionated and conflicted ‘I am very ambitious and
self-confident – but suffer grave doubts most of the
time’. At 14 he was expelled declaring ‘he was to be
an artist’ soon enrolling at the St. John’s Wood Art
School. │ During the War, having previously travelled
to Spain to enlist (Republicans/rejected for being
under age) and on conscription (RAF/discharged due
to ill health) Ayrton, with John Minton, designed sets
and costumes for John Gielgud’s 1940/1 Macbeth and
as a ‘Neo-Romantic’ artist visited Graham Sutherland
in Wales. After the War he was free to travel to
Italy to paint, write and draw. Subsequently, as his
interest in sculpture grew, Ayrton moved in 1952 to
Essex where, with no formal training bar studying
the masters and receiving some technical advice from
Henry Moore, he started to sculpt. A visit to Greece
in 1958 was instrumental in stimulating a lifelong
fascination with Greek Mythology and a ‘need to
make sculptures to release his drawings’. │ In this
sketch we can see the powerful figure of the Trojan
priest ‘Laocoon’ reinterpreted as a figure struggling
in torment, questing even, for his own identity. │
‘Every maze is therefore different, for each is personal
and yet various. Each is a prison and a sanctuary, a
journey and a destination... it contains him wholly and
he extends it all his life’. │ As an illustrator his works
include Wyndham Lewis’s ‘The Human Age’ trilogy, as
a writer ‘The Maze Maker’ and ‘Aspects of British Art’.
His work is held at the Tate and MOMA and he has
had three retrospective exhibitions.