Acrylic on canvas
1750 x 1220mm
Gretchen Albrecht was born in Auckland where she has continued to live and work. In 1964 she graduated with a Diploma with honours from the University of Auckland School of Fine Arts (Elam) where later, from 1972 to 1973 she was Teaching Fellow in Painting. Her student work attracted the attention of visiting American art historians Kurt von Meier and Arthur Lawrence. They encouraged her to look beyond New Zealand at the full range of international art rather than concern herself with local identity or provincial traditions. Her first one-person exhibition was at the Ikon Gallery, Auckland in 1964. At this time her painting was largely figurative, showing an expressionist handling of form and colour, but by the end of the 60s it had become much more abstracted, depending more on the manipulation of colour rather than drawing for its impact. A turning point came in 1970 when she began using acrylic paints, staining the canvas to create images of great intensity. Cerise Sky is typical of her work at this time, its improvisatory stains of colour running across the canvas in irregular bands which sometimes overlap as in the watercolour studies she made at the same time (see also the collection’s Untitled 1974).
Albrecht’s work of the early 70s is closely related to painting by American artist Helen Frankenthaler who in the late 1960s evolved a kind of colourful abstraction with similar landscape associations and bands of horizontal colour. Many of Albrecht’s paintings have titles which evoke skies, horizons and light but are without any literal depiction. Albrecht is a well-travelled painter.