Stephen McKenna is English, of Irish ancestry, the son of a military officer. He attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, leaving it in 1959 to study at the Slade School of Fine Art. There, for five years, he existed within a small island of “process”-minded students in the British wake of Abstract Expressionism. Out of Slade he taught painting, and otherwise spent most of the next ten years sorting through what he had himself been taught, seeking to reanimate what he had come to think of as a practice dying if not already dead: to make paintings of demonstrable skill that speak of art history and to the present, of the artist and, with optimal clarity, to others. He wished to rearticulate a pictorial rhetoric, and in effect traded in the example of Cézanne since Roger Fry a hero nowhere more than in Britain—for the more “heroic” models provided by Poussin and by David. “The most

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