Frank Bowling, the Guyana-born and British- trained abstract painter, was the first black British artist to be elected to England’s Royal Academy of Art. He painted his “Swan” series (1964) during a difficult period of his personal and professional life. His friendship with painter Francis Bacon (1901–1992) had just come to a messy end, his marriage was in trouble, and his career experienced a setback when his work was excluded from two important London exhibitions (Painting and Sculpture of a Decade ’54–’64 at the Tate Gallery and The New Generation: 1964 at the Whitechapel Gallery). His concerns are suggested in imagery of the twisted, dying swans of these two works. In Swan I (1964) and Swan II (1964), he places the agonized figure of a swan against a series of hard-edged chevrons. In both works, the cool, formalist background gives way to a mélange of stylistic references, from the expressionistic splatters at the edge of Swan I, to the more linear abstractions of Swan II, to the almost op-art circular pattern that fixes the swan to the canvas in both works. These images paralleled the stylistic crisis that would ultimately see Bowling leaving London for New York two years later and instead begin to produce works that tended toward abstraction. When he exhibited these paintings at a London Group exhibition in 1966, Bowling attached ribbons, chains, and an anchor to the works, quite literally weighing down the once-graceful creatures.