Ivor Abrahams

Biography of Ivor Abrahams

Ivor Abrahams, the well-known British sculptor and printmaker, was the ultimate celebrator of English eccentricity. “When you see the way other people do things in other places”, he explained, “they all seem to have it better organised than we do. And this is what makes this curious mixture so unique and English”.


Ivor Abrahams was a quintessentially English artist whose favorite subject was the English suburban garden. He created huge sculptures of urban owls and heavily stylised prints depicting topiary and immaculate garden lawns. According to the renowned English art critic Andrew Lambirth, Abrahams was “our greatest interpreter of the suburban dream”.


Yet despite Ivor Abrahams’ quaint choice of subject matter, he was something of a maverick in the art world: he was a traditionalist who thrived in times of anti-tradition. Abstraction and Pop Art were the fashions and what could be more contrary than depictions of English suburbia?


Ivor Abrahams was born in 1953 into the only Jewish family in Wigan, Lancashire. At the age of 17 he escaped to London, without his parents’ consent or support, to study at Saint Martin’s School of Art under Anthony Caro and then at Camberwell School of Arts. Later Abrahams would teach at the world-famous London art schools, Goldsmiths and the Slade School of Fine Art. In the late 1950s Abrahams’ work caught the eye of the renowned London gallery owner, Bernard Jacobson, who from then on followed and supported Abrahams throughout his long career.  


In 1960 Ivor Abrahams exhibited with Peter Blake at the Portal Gallery. A year later he had his first solo show at Gallery One in London. By the 1970s Abrahams had attained international fame brought on by his 1973 show at the Kölnische Kunstverein in Cologne. In 1989 Abrahams was elected to the Royal Academy which staged a retrospective of his prints in 1999. Ivor Abrahams died in January 2015, today his prints and sculptures are prized among collectors throughout the world.


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