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DONALD HAMILTON FRASER
b. 1929, London, England
d. 2009, Henley-on-Thames, England

 

As a young man, Donald Hamilton Fraser trained as a journalist before joining the military. After completing his mandatory service, Hamilton Fraser went on to attend St. Martin's School of Art from 1949 to1952, and in 1953 he received a scholarship from the French government to study in France for a year. Hamilton Fraser lived in Paris, where he encountered works by Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Nicholas de Staël. This intensive year of study enabled him to arrive at his own approach to painting, combining the Tachiste technique of de Staël with his natural proclivity for landscape painting. The result of this rare hybridization is his expressionistic, vibrant, and layered painterly style. Hamilton Fraser was also a great lover of ballet, and he would often visit the English National Ballet to sketch the dancers. His linear paintings and drawings of dancers diverge markedly from his landscape and still life paintings; as Hamilton Fraser wryly stated, "You can't put corners on dancers."

 

Hamilton Fraser's first solo show was at Gimpel Fils in London, where he would exhibit throughout the 1950s and 1960s; throughout the 1960s and 1970s, he also exhibited at Paul Rosenberg & Co. in New York. Between 1957 and 1983, he served as the Visiting Tutor at the Royal College of Art. Fraser was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Art in 1970, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art in 1983, and was elected Royal Academician in 1985, distinguishing him as one of the most important British artists of the twentieth century.