Elizabeth Blackadder was a Scottish artist of global significance – Scotsman comment

Work by the artist Elizabeth Blackadder, who has died at the age of 89, can be seen in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, among other places.

Dame Elizabeth Blackadder, the leading Scottish artist, has died at the age of 89 (Picture: Michael Gillen)
Dame Elizabeth Blackadder, the leading Scottish artist, has died at the age of 89 (Picture: Michael Gillen)

The reason that her paintings received such widespread interest is simple. As Susan Mansfield, The Scotsman’s art critic, said, Blackadder was “an artist of outstanding skill”. Her talent is also reflected in the fact that she was the first woman to be elected to both the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Academy.

She was known in particular for her paintings of flowers, a subject that some might view as trivial, but there was more going on in her work than meets the eye.

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Blackadder once said that “the space between flowers is as important as the flowers themselves”, an idea also explored by the likes of Piet Mondrian.

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This carefully considered composition of the images she painted was part of the reason why her art stood out, why it left an impression and why much of her work is almost instantly recognisable as hers.

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Mansfield described the Falkirk-born artist as “always quiet and unassuming” and someone who “let her work do the talking”.

In recent decades, artists like Damien Hirst have taken a very different approach to art, which at times has caused a considerable stir.

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That is not necessarily a reason for criticism, but as their headlines have faded, it would be no surprise if Blackadder’s paintings and the underlying quality of her work continue to speak to people for many years to come and prove to have a longer-lasting legacy.

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