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Sandra Blow

Sandra Blow, by Ida Kar, 1955 - NPG x125697 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Sandra Blow

by Ida Kar
2 1/4 inch square film negative, 1955
Purchased, 1999
Photographs Collection
NPG x125697

Sitterback to top

  • Sandra Blow (1925-2006), Painter and sculptor. Sitter in 11 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Ida Kar (1908-1974), Photographer. Artist associated with 1544 portraits, Sitter in 136 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Freestone, Clare (appreciation) Wright, Karen (appreciation), Ida Kar Bohemian Photographer, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 10 March to 19 June 2011), p. 88 Read entry

    Blow began her art education at St Martin's School of Art in London aged just fifteen, followed by spells at the Royal Academy Schools (1946-7) and the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome (1947-8). By the mid-1940s Blow was familiar with Soho's bohemian nightlife and at the time Kar and Musgrave were establishing themselves in London, she had become acquainted with the artists congregating there. While Blow was travelling in 1947, the Italian abstract artist Alberto Burri became her lover and inspired her to adopt, from 1956, the techniques of abstraction and coIlage. Blow had her first solo exhibition at the Gimpel Fils Gallery in London in 1951 and exhibited there throughout the following decade, developing her paintings of natural space and material surfaces. In 1957 she featured in the first John Moores biannual exhibition in Liverpool (she won second prize there in 1961) and was included in the Young Artists section at the Biennale in 1958. Blow went to stay with the artist Patrick Heron and lived in St Ives for a time (1957-8), making frequent visits over the following years. From 1960 to 1975 she taught at the Royal College of Art and was elected a Royal Academician in 1978.

Events of 1955back to top

Current affairs

Robert Anthony Eden becomes prime minister. In May 1955 Winston Churchill resigned due to ill health. His successor proved to be a similarly popular leader, winning an increased majority at the general election that year. Eden's popularity was due to a combination of his long wartime service, good looks and charm.

Art and science

Mary Quant introduces the 'Chelsea Look' with her Bazaar boutique. In the 1960s Quant was a major contributor to 'swinging London' introducing some of the seminal items of 1960s fashion: the miniskirt, hot pants, paint-box make-up and plastic raincoats.


West Germany joins NATO, prompting the East European Communist counties to respond by forming the Warsaw Pact. The signatories of the Warsaw Pact pledged to defend each other if any member was attacked. This development was a major event in the Cold War as it firmly established the East and West as opposing military powers.

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