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Michael Ayrton (1921 - 1975)

Michael Ayrton was an artist of wide interests and varied talents. Painter, sculptor, illustrator and stage designer; novelist, critic, essayist and broadcaster, his works in all media were informed by his love of myth, which he saw as fundamentally relevant to contemporary life: a bridge across time and space to reveal basic truths about being human which all art should explore and celebrate. Beginning as a painter in the Neo-Romantic tradition, he began making sculpture in his early thirties, becoming deeply involved with the myth of Daedalus, Icarus, the Minotaur and the maze, the subjects of his best-known works. Later he also made mirror sculptures, combining bronze and perspex to produce multiplying images.

His paintings, drawings and sculptures challenged both traditional and contemporary expectations and brought him controversy and admiration in roughly equal measure. His maze in New York’s Catskill Mountains remains the largest brick and stone labyrinth built since antiquity; a cast of the Minotaur from its centre can be seen at the Barbican, London. His spectacular vision of Icarus about to take flight is at Old Change Court nearby, and other works can be seen in various public spaces and collections, nationally and internationally, including Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery.

- Dr. Justine Hopkins, February 2021

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2021: The Centenary Year

A string of national exhibitions will be held throughout 2021 to mark Michael Ayrton’s centenary year, and a book - the first major publication about Ayrton this century - will be published in April with a selection of new essays and images of his work spanning the course of his career. For more information on the upcoming events, click below.


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If you'd like to purchase a copy of Michael's official biography or the 2021 centenary publication "Michael Ayrton Centenary: Ideas, Images, Reflections" you can do so in our online store.

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All questions of copyright and authenticity are handled by the Michael Ayrton Estate, for which his granddaughter, Dr. Justine Hopkins is the main point of contact. Her book, Michael Ayrton: A Biography was published by Andre Deutsch in 1994, and she has also written a number of Catalogue Introductions to exhibitions of his work. 

To get in touch with Justine for any matters regarding the estate, please do so using the contact form below.

Michael Ayrton ~ Oracle (Figure with Lau
ayrton slow dance for the nativity 1958
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