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Barbara Rae Image

Barbara Rae


Dr Barbara Rae CBE RA, RE, RSA, RSW, RGI FRCA, FRSE, Royal Academician painter and printmaker, is recognised internationally as an outstanding colourist, and an acclaimed master printmaker, with portraits and tapestries to her credit. Subject matter is usually images of a socio-political nature, human made artefacts weathered by time and fortune. 

Rae records time passing. She is not interested in topography. What attracts is the history of a place and its people. Abstract expressionist themes are given maximum intensity: ancient Celtic standing stones bracing ominous dark skies; an abandoned farmhouse in famine racked west of Ireland; ancient Anasazi rock art in remotest Arizona Desert; sun-blasted vine terraces on a Spanish hillside. She distills the presence of mankind.

Though pattern and structure in the background can be a dividend enriching the composition it is just as often ignored. The beauty of her art is often subversive, admired by contemporaries for her ability to convey an image in a single fluid brush stroke. She works with acrylics and collage, never oils.

Rae travels the world in search of inspiration, spending weeks meeting the people of a chosen location, researching local history, all before opening a sketchbook, developing studies as prints or paintings in her Edinburgh studio. 

Rae was born in Falkirk, Scotland. She trained at Edinburgh’s College of Art and lectured at Charles Rennie Macintosh’s School of Art in Glasgow. 

She arrived at art school with her creative voice almost fully formed. No artist influenced her. There are artists whose work she admires, such as the Spanish painters Antoni Tàpies and Joan Miró, as well as the celebrated American abstractionist Richard Diebenkorn, the latter whom she met and befriended. 

Recipient of numerous awards, scholarships, and honorary degrees, her work is exhibited in national museums, and public and private collections the world over, enjoyed by British charities and hospitals too. Solo exhibitions include Edinburgh during the International Festival of Arts, to New York, from Dublin to Oslo, from London to Chicago to New Mexico, and to Mexico itself.


Definitive books on her art are: 'Barbara Rae – Major Work'; 'Barbara Rae – Prints'; and 'Barbara Rae – Sketchbooks', the last two published by the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Her output includes decorative items developed in collaboration with the Royal Academy, the most recent being painted ceramics.                                     

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