Clive Head is a British artist born in Maidstone, Kent in 1965.
This website is about his work over the past 10 years. It is a decade of notable change in his paintings, and change in gallery representation. Head left Marlborough Fine Art, London in 2014 to collaborate with the Canadian art dealer Robert Landau, based in Montreal and Switzerland. At home, Head and his family relocated from a townhouse in the Victorian seaside town of Scarborough, Yorkshire to a sprawling manor house in a small village a few miles away. His daily routines of painting have remained a constant throughout this period.
Clive Head is often regarded as Britain’s leading realist painter. For sure he is a painter, but this website shows the range of his interests, and, through a selection of his writings, the thought that informs his practice. Equal emphasis is placed on his drawings and his occasional forays into print where he has demonstrated a rare mastery of etching, acknowledged by the acquisition of his prints by the Victoria and Albert Museum.
In 2010, Head had an exhibition at the National Gallery, London, which broke attendance records. In 2012, he followed this with a project at Dulwich Picture Gallery which was similarly received by uncharacteristically large visitor numbers. But by this time Head had reached the end of a period of work and was ready to develop new approaches. This new work proved to be equally as popular when it was first shown at the Sainsbury Centre in 2014.
In recent years, Head has exhibited at many major art fairs including Art Basel, Art Basel Miami, FIAC and TEFAF Maastricht. His earlier urban landscapes continue to be exhibited in museum exhibitions of hyperrealism, for example at the Kunsthal, Rotterdam (2010 and 2017), Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, and Tubingen, Germany. Head’s role in the development of the Photorealist movement since the 1990s remains fundamental, influencing many younger painters both in their methods and ideology. His home continues to be a destination for painters to discuss their work and view his latest paintings.
Head’s critical approaches, his interests in art theory and art history, echo his earlier role in art education. He founded the department of Fine Art at University College Scarborough (York University) where he taught painting and art history. His programmes were based on his own education under the abstract painter David Tinker (UCW Aberystwyth), which balanced studio studies with art history.
He left teaching in 2000, after his first major solo show with Harry Blain. At this time he began showing with Louis Meisel in New York. In 2005, he joined Marlborough Fine Art, London.
At the core of Head’s work is his joy of making. A precocious talent, Head had the ability to draw naturalistically long before he learnt to read. Whatever the depth of his theoretical writings today, his work is based on an instinctive need to create from his experience of the world around him. This overshadows any need to communicate, which has often put him at odds with mainstream contemporary art. Out of necessity to maintain his own integrity, Head has often questioned commonly agreed wisdom, sometimes following a lone path and sometimes forging unexpected alliances. Head belongs to a history of English artists who don’t quite fit.