Frank Bowling (RA, OBE)

11 Artworks : 1962 - 2009


  • Born in 1936.
  • Lives in Pimlico, London.
  • Bowling is a Guyana-born British artist who is widely considered to be one of the most distinguished artists to emerge from post-war British art schools.
  • Bowling’s paintings relate to Abstract expressionism, Color Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction.
  • In 1950, at the age of 15, Bowling moved to England, where he lived with an uncle and completed his education.
  • Bowling studied at the Chelsea School of Art, and in 1959 won a scholarship to London’s Royal College of Art, where fellow students included artists such as David Hockney, Derek Boshier, Allen Jones, R. B. Kitaj and Peter Phillips.
  • At graduation in 1962, Hockney was awarded the gold medal while Bowling was given the silver. Bowling had been tipped to win the gold but due to his controversial 1960 marriage to Royal College Registrar Paddy Kitchen (they divorced in the late 1960s) he was relegated to silver.
  • Bowling’s first one-person exhibition, entitled “Image in Revolt,” was held in London in 1962 at the Grabowski Galleries, and other exhibitions followed. However, Bowling was frustrated at being pigeonholed as a Caribbean artist.
  • In 1971 Bowling was part of the Whitney Biennial.
  • Bowling was encouraged by the US critic Clement Greenberg, and found artistic freedom in abstract art, alongside Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Barnett Newman.
  • Between 1969 and 1972 Bowling was a contributing editor to the Arts Magazine.
  • Bowling now spends part of each year between London and New York, where he maintains studios.

Awards and Scholarships

  • Bowling has been the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships.
  • In 1965 at the First World Festival of Negro Arts, held at Dakar, Senegal, Bowling’s painting “Big Bird” won the Grand Prize for Contemporary Arts.
  • In 2005 Bowling was elected a member of England’s Royal Academy of Arts. He was among about a dozen artists proposed to fill one of two vacancies in the 80-member academy, and was the first Black artist to be elected a Royal Academician in the history of the institution.
  • In 2008 Bowling was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.


Bowling’s paintings have been exhibited widely and internationally.

Selected solo shows include Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1971); Serpentine Gallery, London (1986); a UK touring retrospective (2003); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2011); Spritmuseum, Stockholm (2014-15); Dallas Museum of Art (2015). His work can be found in numerous public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas), Royal Academy of Arts (London), Tate Gallery (London), Victoria & Albert Museum (London), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York).



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