RIP Adrian Berg…


I opened my paper this morning – a day late – and found an obituary for Adrian Berg. I loved his painting, and he has really influenced my view of colours – and now I often see my garden (and often my knitting / spinning as well) through an almost Adrian-Berglike eye.

Gloucester Gate, Regent’s Park – from the Government Art Collection

He’s not as well known as he should be, which is an enormous shame, though I expect this will change. I can’t count the number of times I’ve waxed lyrical about Berg, only to be met by blank looks – but then that was my original reaction when I was told about him too, several years ago. I had a friend who was a textile designer and, perhaps unsurprisingly, also a huge Berg fan. He introduced me to his work via a rather manky catalogue covered in paint and ink stains, and I was hooked. Full marks to my friend Paul for spotting that I would become just as addicted as he was…

Gloucester Gate, Regent’s Park, autumn, winter, spring, 1977-79; Christies

The often flat perspectives frequently remind me of Egyptian tomb paintings (once an archaeologist, always an archaeologist), but the colours are unlike anything else. Hints of some of Howard Hodgkin’s, perhaps, and a tip of the hat in the direction of Monet’s later work, but absolutely and unmistakeably and wonderfully Adrian Berg.

Gloucester Gate, Regent’s Park, February, March, April, May, June, 1977; from various auction sites

I tend to think of his work as being autumnal in its colour range, even when it’s clearly representing another time of year, but that’s just the impact of a catalogue from a 1986 show at the Serpentine Gallery I found in a second-hand bookshop a few years ago. It’s worth hunting out his paintings of Sheffield Park, too. Couldn’t find any online immediately, but you never know. I expect – sadly – he’ll get a lot more attention now he’s died. It’s (almost) always the way.

This is Regent’s Park in February 1963.

Photo from the Guardian, courtesy of Gillian Jason Modern and Contemporary Art/ Nicholas Sinclair


You can find an excellent obituary here, at the Guardian.

(All images, by the way, are from various easily accessible and mainstream websites, and are all copyright Adrian Berg… I’ve kept the file sizes small deliberately, but it’s worth checking out his website – the link is at the top – for more. The Gallery there is under construction, so it’s a taster at present.)


12 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m ashamed to say that I had never heard of him, but those images are beautiful, so I am off to check out the links. Sad that so often artists are only appreciated when they are gone.

    1. kate says:

      It’s so often the way. A friend of mine was married to a wonderful artist, valued by a discerning few, but so hard up he used to paint on primed cardboard. Then he died – and wallop, the wider art world suddenly started to take him seriously. Retrospectives, interest from major galleries and collectors worldwide, good sales, she’s bought a house, etc, etc…

  2. hillwards says:

    Not a name I’m familiar with either, but I do like the works you showed here.

    1. kate says:

      I’m sure he’ll get much more publicity now… sometimes it’s quite hard not to be cynical! A great plant/garden painter.

  3. Christina says:

    When I looked at your smaller images I thought they were textiles! I liked the pictures I saw on the links too. thanks for introducing him to us. Christina

    1. kate says:

      Do you know, that didn’t really occur to me – dur, I’m a twit – but of course they work like textiles! That’s probably why I’m so fond of his work… and why my friend Paul, textile designer, loved him too…. How obvious – when someone else points it out, 😉

  4. wellywoman says:

    I’ve never heard of him either but I love the pictures you’ve included in your post. I love work that is inspired and captures nature. Thank you for bringing him to my attention. Will look up his other work.

    1. kate says:

      Glad to spread the word! I really like the way he found so much inspiration for so many years from one small corner – just gies to show that you can get an awful lot out of a small area…

  5. Lyn says:

    I thought at first they were textiles, too. I like the effect very much.

    1. kate says:

      Aren’t they lovely? I’m still shaking my head at myself for not getting that resemblance immediately…

  6. Suzanne says:

    I discovered him a few years ago, via a book on garden painters in the print makers gallery on the south bank. Couldn’t believe my eyes! Thought-this is the world made whole! So beautiful-and spiritual. Still no sign though, as far as I know, that he is wider known. Lovely to come across your post.

    1. kate says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it – I just love his work. Wish more people knew about it too…

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