This is the first full-scale monograph on British artist John Craxton (1922-2009), a key figure in post-war painting who authorised this publication shortly before his death.
Craxton was a brilliant and well-connected artist with a passion for Greek life, light and landscape. Rejected for military service in 1941, he shared premises in London with Lucian Freud, provided by their benefactor and friend Peter Watson. Through Watson he met other artists linked to Neo-romanticism and, like many of his generation, came under the influence of William Blake, Samuel Palmer and Graham Sutherland. But by 1945 his work was more closely connected with that of European artists such as Picasso and Miro. Always longing to escape, Craxton travelled around the Mediterranean after World War II, finally settling in Crete from 1960, where he continued to develop his Romantic pastoral themes in sunburst images influenced by Byzantine mosaics. He also created scintillating ballet and book designs.
Ian Collins's engaging text is informed by his many conversations with the artist, who was also a celebrated wit and story-teller, and is supported by more than 200 reproductions of life-affirming paintings and drawings. The book will be welcomed by art historians, collectors, curators and all those with an interest in the history of modern British art.
Ian Collins has been an arts writer for the past 30 years, chiefly with the Eastern Daily Press, as well as writing artists' obituaries for the Guardian and Daily Telegraph. His recent publications include Making Waves: Artists in Southwold (2005), John McLean (2009) and Water Marks: Art in East Anglia (2010).
Contents: Foreword; A Kind of Arcadia, David Attenborough; Part 1: One Line Right or Wrong (1922-46); Part 2: Life Even More than Art (1946-2009); Notes; Main Exhibitions; Public Collections; Acknowledgements; Picture Credits; Index.