Rose Wylie was born in Hythe in Kent on 14 October 1934. Wylie studied at the Dover School of Art from 1952 to 1956 and later graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA, in 1981.
She lives and works in her Kent cottage, producing extremely large paintings on unstretched, unprimed canvas, in her signature loose, spontaneous style. She paints from memory, usually taking her imagery from mass media.
In 1955 when Wylie was just 21 years old, studying art in Folkestone and Dover she was painted by Anthony Devas for the Aero girl ad campaign. She describes herself as being a “rebellious art student” at the time, adding that her look was “more Brigitte Bardot than Mills & Boon cover.” It is apt that the painting is labelled, not with the true identity of the sitter, but with the fictitious advertiser’s title, Alice.
As a young woman, Wylie regularly modelled for the artist John Ward and it was whilst his friend Devas was staying with him, that she sat for this Aero commission. She knew that the portrait would appear in Rowntree's Aero adverts and by the time she was at Goldsmiths College in 1956, it had already been published in the Daily Express, News of the World and People Illustrated.
Wylie finds inspiration for her visually compelling paintings through her daily encounters and a variety of sources, from art history, cinema, comic books and the natural world to news, verbal anecdotes, celebrity stories and sport. These might include a scene from Quentin Tarantino’s iconic Kill Bill films, a self-portrait of Wylie eating a chocolate biscuit or a football match. Her vibrant, large-scale canvases filled the walls of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery.
Wylie often paints through the filter of memory and impression, using text to enhance facts and recollections and editing images by overlaying new pieces of canvas over images, like a collage. At times, the compositions of her paintings are informed by cinematic techniques, whether the multiple headshots of Sitting on a Bench with Border (Film Notes) 2008, based on Pedro Almodóvar’s 2006 film Volver, or Wylie’s two paintings from the 2005 film Syriana, which take in a panoramic and close-up shot of the same scene.
Instilled with wit, Wylie’s paintings are confident, animated and energetic, proposing new perspectives on the world and the plethora of images that make up our collective cultural memory.
Wylie was one of the seven finalists for the 2009 Threadneedle Prize, and one of the winners of the 2011 Paul Hamlyn Foundation Prize for Visual Arts.
In 2010 Wylie was the only non-American artist represented in the Women to Watch exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC. In 2012, she had a retrospective at Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, followed in 2013 by an exhibition at Tate Britain, London that featured recent works.
In September 2014, she won the John Moores Painting Prize. In February 2015 she became a member of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA Elect). In June of the same year she won the Charles Wollaston Award for "most distinguished work" in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
She has been invited to meet and talk with students in the significant artists series ‘Artists Promenades’ at the Royal College of Art and given talks on her work at The Slade, Goldsmiths, Wimbledon College of Art, The Royal Academy Schools, The Royal Drawing School, John Moores Liverpool, the ICA and Tate Britain. Wylie has work in private and public collections including Tate Britain, the Arts Council Collection, Jerwood Foundation, Hammer Collection, and York City Art Gallery. In 2016 Rose Wylie: Pink Girls, Yellow curls was held at the Städtische Galerie, Wolfsburg, and she has also had a solo show at the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin.