Alfred Harris Biography

Alfred Harris




Alfred Harris was born in London in 1930 and currently lives and works in Camden, London where his large, purpose-built studio has become an installation space for the ever-expanding series of self-portrait ‘studies’, both paintings and drawings.

Harris first trained as an artist at Willesden School of Art and then at the Royal College of Art from 1952-55 alongside such figures as Frank Auerbach, Brigit Riley, Peter Blake, Jo Tilson and Leon Kossoff.  Launched by the Festival of Britain 1951, the Fifties was a decade of increasing confidence and growth in the British art scene with the emergence of Pop artists such as Edouardo Paolozzi and Peter Blake.  It was also a decade marked by fierce commitment to expressive painting - a type of existential Realism rekindled by artists such as Lucien Freud, Frank Auerbach and Francis Bacon.  This group of artists were later characterized as the School of London by critics, curators and gallerists.

Unwavering in his determination to maintain creative integrity, Harris resigned from the Royal West of England Academy, and in 1988 resigned as Chairman of the Department of Art and Design Institute of Education, where he had been teaching since 1963. Harris has now taken up a fully hermetic and independent position as an artist.

Looking back across the years, Alfred remembers that his first significant work as a mature artist was landscape-based.  These somber, painterly landscapes emerged out of his early fascination with the materialist aesthetic of Constable.  His love of Constable’s work – its earthy masses, restless energy and pantheistic spirit, are embodied in the early more naturalistic landscapes but also continue to resonate in a more abstracted form through later series of works such as the Kites.  These early landscapes were exhibited at prestigious London galleries such as Driam, Beaux Arts and the Ben Uri.  During this time, Alfred Harris knew and associated with Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach and his work was shown with Auerbach in group exhibitions.

For seven years, beginning in the late sixties,  Alfred Harris worked closely with Jacob Bornfriend and exhibited alongside him in seven major two-man shows in England and Sweden.  These works were the visual component of the Uppsala Arts Festival in Sweden.

.Excerpted from a biography by Lizzie Pink. The whole biography is available on the artist’s website at: