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Heart Knife
© By kind permission of the Estate of the late William Crosbie

Reference URL

Heart Knife 1934

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
'Heart Knife' is an early example of a Scottish artist working in a semi-abstract style derived from Cubism. It was painted during Crosbie's final year at Glasgow School of Art. However, despite the use of abstract shapes in the picture, the shading on the vertical shape shows Crosbie's use of depth. The work also shows the influence of Surrealism. Crosbie later recalled that the painting referred to his problematic and unhappy relationship with his father and to: 'damaging, acute disappointments.'

Glossary Open

Abstract art

Art in which there is no attempt to represent anything existing in the world, particularly used of the 20th century onwards. ‘Abstraction’ refers to the process of making images that may in part derive from the visible world but which are reduced to basic formal elements.


A style of painting originated by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in the first two decades of the 20th century. Instead of painting a figure or object from a fixed position they represented it from multiple viewpoints.


A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.

Abstract art, Cubism , Surrealism


  • Acc. No. GMA 1714
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 60.30 x 43.00 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1978