Called in one obituary an 'austere painter of the modern St Ives School' (Davies) in description of his careful, perfected abstractions of landscape art. A charming and quiet man, both his teaching and his art stood as a beacon of high intellectual quality and counterbalance to the negative reaction to the political ferments often found in artistic circles.
Born in Liverpool, McKenzie attended Liverpool College of Art between 1946-1950, after completion of Army service. His first move into Cornwall was to St Ives in 1951, at an especially contentious and competitive time. He exhibited his work in a Solo show at Robin NANCE's shop on the main street.
In 1953 he moved on to Newlyn and Penzance, where he felt more at home, and where he taught at the Art School until 1964, whilst still exhibiting successfully in St Ives, Newlyn, London, New York and elsewhere.
Thereon for twenty years, he was the Head of the Department of Fine Art at Plymouth College of Art and Design, in residence there with his wife, Coralie CROCKETT (who died in 1973), and three daughters. In retirement from his teaching post at Plymouth, Alex returned to West Cornwall, living and working in his studio-home on Morrab Road, Penzance near the Penlee House Museum.
His sculptural and sensuous style in architectural and geometric formats enhanced the landscapes and sky-lines he loved and studied. Both his teaching and his clear, calm style influenced many artists who might have more public recognition. His reputation continues to grow.
Abstract painter in oils, water-colour, gouache, pen & crayon; draughtsman; collagist, mixed media
works and access
Works incl: Winter Flight (1960) at Cornwall Council; Cliff face, Abstract composition, Sacred Circle Kingstone Russell, Dorset (1991) all 3 shown in 2008 at 'golden age' exhibition.
Access to works: Arts Council; AskArt.com (subscription viewing); Gulbenkian Foundation; Cornwall County Council; Tate Gallery
City Art Gallery, Plymouth
Durlachers Gallery, New York 1960
Waddington Galleries from 1958, Solo show 1960-61
NAG Painters 1960, Solo 1980, Looking West Exhibition 1987, Art Share 1988, A Century of Art in Cornwall 1889-1989 1989, Critics Choice 1990
1986: RCM & RIC Three Spires Festival Exhibition of Paintings, Sculpture and Pottery, Truro (Opening of the RCM or County Art Gallery, by the Royal Institution of Cornwall)
Austin Desmond Fine Art, London 2000
Redfern Gallery, London
Great Atlantic Arwenack St Gallery, Falmouth 2008 'the golden age of cornish art'
Penwith Society, St Ives 1952
Newlyn Society of Artists 1953-
misc further info
Independent Obituary 20 Sep 2002 (Davies)
Bird (2000) In Character: Alexander MacKenzie and Landscape (Austin Desmond catalogue)
Brittain, Sarah and Cook, Simon (2001) Behind the Canvas, 40 Artists working in West Cornwall;
Buckman (2006) Dictionary of Artists in Britain since 1945
Cross (2002) Catching the Wave, Contemporary Art and Artists in Cornwall (pp54-56 photos & illus);
Public Catalogue Foundation (2007) Cornwall & IOS, Oil Paintings in Public Ownership;
Tate (1985) St Ives 1939-64, Twenty Five Years of Painting, Sculpture and Pottery (photo, 1960)
Great Atlantic Publications & Clark Art Ltd (2008) the golden age of cornish art
Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn: Diary of a Gallery (photo)