Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Derrick Greaves

Born 1927, Sheffield. Died 2022

From 1943-1948 Derrick Greaves trained as a signwriter. After attending evening classes in Sheffield, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, during which time he shared a house with the painter Jack Smith and the sculptor George Fullard. They were all part of the London-trained generation of artists from Sheffield that also included John Hoyland and Brian Fielding.

He went to Italy in 1952 on an Abbey Scholarship and met and was influenced by the realist painter Renato Guttuso. Back in Britain he became associated with the group of painters dubbed the Kitchen Sink School for their strongly structured portrayals of the environment of working class life. Four of the group, John Bratby, Edward Middleditch, Jack Smith and Greaves, were selected to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1956 - and later re-examined in the exhibition The Forgotten Fifties, curated by Julian Spalding for the Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield in 1983.

Throughout his long and successful career Greaves passed through a number of distinct phases. In the 1960s his painting shifted from social realism towards Pop Art with forms indicated by bold outlines containing areas of flat, strong colour. His work was discussed in an article published in 1967 alongside that of Patrick Caulfield, Roy Lichtenstein and Fernand Léger (‘Pop Kinky/Pop Classical’ by Mark Glazebrook, Director of the Whitechapel Gallery). His exhibitions in this period received glowing reviews and established him as an important figure in British art. In the 1980s and 1990s Greaves simplified his imagery and sought to imply a narrative by incorporating words or phrases in his paintings; also acclaimed exhibitions were held of large-scale collaged drawings and prints.

Greaves held a full-time teaching post as Head of the Printmaking Department at Norwich School of Art from 1983 to 1991. As well as making prints himself, he continued to paint and exhibit regularly. In 2007, to celebrate his 80th birthday, the James Hayman Gallery in London mounted a three-part retrospective of his work.

Public collections which have acquired Greaves work include: Tate Gallery, London; Arts Council Collection; the British Council; British Museum; Government Art Collection; Leeds Art Gallery; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Castle Museum, Norwich; Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield; Pembroke College, Oxford; the Chantrey Bequest; Contemporary Arts Society; City of Milton Keynes Collection; University of Wales, Aberystwyth; Cranfield College of Technology; Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin;, Reading Art Gallery; Southampton Art Gallery;IBM, New York,; Johannesburg Public Gallery; Berado Collection, Sintra, Portugal; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; New York Public Library; Northwestern University, Chicago; Wesleyan University, Chicago and Public Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia.


Black Vase