Ceri Richards Biography

Ceri Richards




Ceri Richards, painter, printmaker, musician, and stage designer, was born in Dunvant, Wales on June 6, 1903. Richards attended Growerton Intermediate School as a youth. His parents fostered in him a love of art and music and he participated in local art competitions regularly. Richards studied engineering draughtsmanship at Swansea College of Technology, and studied part-time at the Swansea College of Art. Eventually he enrolled full time in the College of Art but it would be another two years until he focused his attention on fine art.

In 1923 Richards spent a week under the tutelage of Hugh Blaker at the summer school situated at Gregynog Hall, the country house of art patrons Gwendoline and Margaret Davies. Their collection of Old Master prints, drawings, and sculpture permanently changed the course of Richards' life, and that year he applied for and won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London (1924-1927). There, he studied under Randolph Schwabe, who encouraged him to study Cubism and the works of the new and controversial Abstract artists, such as Picasso, Kandinsky, and Mondrian.

RIchards held his first solo exhibition in 1930 at the Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea, in 1933 he showed with the Objective Abstraction Group in London and in 1936 with the International Surrealist Exhibition in London.

An accomplished musician, the theme of music and poetry often crossed over into his visual art; among his most well known series were paintings based on Dylan Thomas's Poetry for London and another created for the work of Debussy. He was commissioned to design the stage sets for Lennox Berkeley's operas Ruth (1956) and Benjamin Britten's Noyes Fludde (1958). In 1967 he was commissioned to design the tabernacle, reredos, and two stained-glass windows for the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool. He exhibited widely alongside contemporaries Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, John Piper, and Graham Sutherland, and he often represented Britain in international touring exhibitions. Richards had a long teaching career, beginning at the Chelsea School of Art (1937-1939); Head of Painting at the Cardiff School of Art (1940-1944); Chelsea Polytechnic (1947-1955); Slade School of Art in London (1955-1958) and the Royal College of Art (1958-1960). In 1962 he was a prizewinner at the Venice Biennale.

Ceri Richards died in London, England on November 9, 1971.