Anne Dunn

b. 1929

Anne Dunn, born in 1929, received a brief education at Chelsea Polytechnic (where Ceri Richards headed the painting department and Graham Sutherland was an occasional teacher). She was a rather disinterested student, and left in 1949, after less than two years.


Dunn started an affair with Lucian Freud in 1948, during which time he joined her for a while in Cashel Bay, Co. Galway. She produced drawings in heavy conté in this period, clearly influenced in some way by Freud, invested with an uneasy sense of being watched. They are representational, but the elements of the drawings are somehow dislocated, unsure of themselves or their place within the space of the picture. It was Freud who introduced Dunn to her first husband, the occasional artist Michael Wishart, with whom she had one child, Francis. Their marriage, in 1950, was followed by an infamous three night wedding reception (during which 200 bottles of Bollinger were consumed), and another two days at Wivenhoe.


The couple subsequently moved to France, first to Paris, then Provence. Dunn studied at the Anglo-French Centre in 1952, taught by Henry Moore and, on occasion, Fernand Léger, then at the Académie Julian in1952. In this time, she also took life-drawing lessons in Paris. She was aware of contemporary movements and debates around abstraction and figuration, but borrowed elements from both of these, rather than being tied to one of them. Whilst in France, Dunn painted still lifes and her surroundings, as well as portraits of Francis Wyndham, John Ashbery, and the man for whom she left her husband, Rodrigo Moynihan. These paintings retained the sinister air of her Cashel Bay drawings: fruit surrounded by wasps, and apparently drowned butterflies. In 1957 she had her first show at the Leicester Galleries.


Marrying Moynihan in 1960, Dunn had another son by him—Danny. Moynihan, Francis Wyndham and herself co-edited Art and Literature, which ran to 12 volumes, between 1964-7, and was a key part of developing new artistic scenes in Britain. In the 1960s, her life became more transatlantic, with a show at the Fischbach Gallery in New York in 1967, and her first Redfern exhibition in 1972.


Dunn’s paintings are vibrant, filled with colour, lines invested with movement and shot through unsettlingly with red and flesh tones. Her subjects, seemingly still and calm, reveal something sinister in the everyday.

Read moreRead less