Patrick Caulfield studied at the Chelsea School of Art in 1956, and at the Royal College of Art from 1960 to 1963, where his fellow pupils included David Hockney and R. B. Kitaj. After he left, he returned to Chelsea as a teacher.
In 1964, he exhibited at the New Generation show at London's Whitechapel Gallery, which resulted in him being associated with pop art.
His work is characterised by a reductive, streamlined use of line and the depiction of banal, everyday objects saturated in colour. Caulfield consistently used screenprint for his graphic work following his introduction to the medium by Richard Hamilton and Chris Prater in 1964. The deceptive simplicity of his images, perfectly matched by the aesthetic capacities of the process, is clear throughout the various phases of his printmaking career.
A painting called "Wall Plate", is one of a group that Caulfield produced in 1986 which provided the basis of an important suite of four screenprints published by Waddington Galleries in 1987. A full set of which is also in the collection of Tate Britain, London. They are very large prints, with an image size 76 x 104 cm, on paper 102 x 130 cm.
In this body of work, Caulfield finally loses the last vestige of the black outline that had been the hallmark of his work from the early 1960s, and introduced a form of almost abstract imagery which uses an off-stage light source to throw oblique shapes and shadows that define the forms. The pure monochromatic image thus presents flicks between pure abstraction and representation, and by disturbing the picture surface with a raised flat panel, further enlivened by the use of both matt and gloss finishes, the viewer is left with a good deal of ambiguity.
In 1987 Caulfield was nominated for the Turner Prize and in 1996 he was made a CBE.
He died in 2005 and is buried in Highgate Cemetery. Those who have followed his style include Michael Craig-Martin and latterly Julian Opie.