He was educated at Clayesmore school, Dorset. After national service in the Royal Navy he studied at Street Martin’s School of Art (1951-1954) and the Royal College of Art (1954-1957).
Reacting against the mainstream Street Ives School of landscape-based painting and inspired by Abstract Expressionism, American films, popular culture and urban modernity, they saw abstract painting as their only conceivable route. After graduating from the Royal College in 1957 he was awarded a scholarship to study in Italy, then taught part-time at Hammersmith School of Art, the Slade School of Art and the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham. Among the paintings Denny created at the Royal College are rudimentary images of heads, indebted to French Tachisme, with dripped and dribbled paint.
These were interspersed with abstract collages and large gestural paintings which display the broad gestures and bold marks of American Abstract Expressionism, exhibited in London in 1956 and 1959.
In 1969, he organised an exhibition for the Arts Council on the American artist Charles Biederman, who for over 20 years worked exclusively on vividly coloured abstract reliefs. This experience coincided with a new intensity of colour in Denny’s work, shifting from rich, dark harmonies to high, bright contrasts, from a sense of twilight to daylight.
In 1981 Denny moved to Los Angeles, but returned to London in 1986. In California, Denny"s painting again changed radically.
The acrylic surfaces are delicate and subtly modulated, constructed from up to 30 layers of pigment applied until it is intensely rich, absorbing the eye and the attention.
Place (Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 1959
Situation (RBA Galleries, London, 1960)
London: the New Scene (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, Minneapolis and North American tour, 1965)
Venice Biennale, 1966
Tate Gallery retrospective (1973
The Sixties Art Scene in London (Barbican Art Gallery, London, 1993)
Robyn Denny died on 20 May 2014 at his home in France at age 83.