David Annesley (b. 1936, London) received early recognition for his colour sculptures at The New Generation: 1965 show at the Whitechapel Gallery, London. The exhibition showcased a new generation of sculptors who had been taught by Frank Martin and Anthony Caro at St Martin’s School of Art in London in the early sixties. The new approach was defined by the placement of sculptures directly on the ground, allowing them to occupy the same floor-space as the viewer; the use of new materials such as fibreglass, aluminium and plastic, which allowed the artists to transcend art historical associations with materials; and the use of bright colours, often with the addition of a ‘skin’ of coloured paint to further reduce attention to the specific material of the work.
Annesley’s open-form, metal sculptures drew upon his own physical experience flying as an RAF pilot. They convey a sense of weightlessness and expand into and envelop the surrounding space outlined by their linear forms. Their dynamic compositions instil a sense of movement, further animated by titles such as ‘Loquat’ and ‘Godroon’, words and phrases chosen by Annesley for their sounds rather than for their anecdotal or literary content. In 1964, Annesley was introduced by Caro to the American Color Field painter, Kenneth Noland, with whom he stayed in 1966 and 1968 in Bennington, Vermont. This artistic friendship was significant in bridging the traditionally separate mediums of sculpture and painting, and encouraged Annesley’s exploration of colour relationships in his sculptures.
Annesley completed National Service in 1958, and later the same year enrolled at St Martin’s to study painting. He transferred to the sculpture department to study under Martin and Caro, and worked as his studio assistant with fellow student Michael Bolus. After graduating in 1961, he taught at the Croydon College of Art, St Martin’s and Central School of Art and Design, London. His first solo exhibition was held at The Waddington Galleries, London, in 1966. He had two more solo shows at Waddington Galleries in 1968 and 1970. ‘Swing Low’ (1964), ‘Loquat’ (1965) and ‘Untitled’ (1968–9) entered the Tate collection in 1971 as part of the Alistair McAlpine Gift. Annesley’s work is held in other important public collections around the world, including the British Council Collection; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Nagoya City Art Museum, Japan; and National Museums of Northern Ireland. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1995.