Peter Lanyon was born in St Ives. He studied at Penzance School of Art in 1937, and was briefly at the Euston Road School in 1938. He was much influenced by the arrival in St Ives of Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo in 1939, and took private lessons from Nicholson. He served in the RAF in the Second World War, and returned to St Ives in 1945. In the 1940s and 50s he was a member of the Crypt Group, a founder-member of the Penwith Society, and a member of the Newlyn Society of Artists. Lanyon taught at Bath Academy of Arts in Corsham from 1950 to 1957, and ran an art school in St Ives from 1957 to 1960.
Lanyon’s first one-man show in London was at the Lefevre Gallery in 1949 and he exhibited widely thereafter. In the late1950s he exhibited in New York, and came into contact with the American Abstract Expressionists, Rothko, Kline, De Kooning and Motherwell. Lanyon was also a prolific printmaker, producing etchings, lithographs, monotypes and linocuts.