Modernists & Mavericks

Modernists & Mavericks : Bacon, Freud, Hockney and the London Painters

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Sunday Times Art Book of the Year 2018

'If you are interested in modern British art, the book is unputdownable. If you are not, read it.' - Grey Gowrie, Financial Times

'All the good stories, and more, are here ... this is a genuinely encyclopaedic work, unlike anything else I have come across on the topic, informed by a deep love and understanding of modern painting. Everybody interested in the subject should read it.' - Andrew Marr, Sunday Times

A masterfully narrated account of painting in London from the Second World War to the 1970s, illustrated throughout with documentary photographs and works of art

The development of painting in London from the Second World War to the 1970s is the story of interlinking friendships, shared experiences and artistic concerns among a number of acclaimed artists, including Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, David Hockney, Bridget Riley, Gillian Ayres, Frank Bowling and Howard Hodgkin.

Drawing on extensive first-hand interviews, many previously unpublished, with important witnesses and participants, the art critic Martin Gayford teases out the thread connecting these individual lives, and demonstrates how painting thrived in London against the backdrop of Soho bohemia in the 1940s and 1950s and `Swinging London' in the 1960s. He shows how, influenced by such different teachers as David Bomberg and William Coldstream, and aware of the work of contemporaries such as Jackson Pollock as well as the traditions of Western art from Piero della Francesca to Picasso and Matisse, the postwar painters were allied in their confidence that this ancient medium, in opposition to photography and other media, could do fresh and marvellous things. They asked the question `what can painting do?' and explored in their diverse ways, but with equal passion, the possibilities of paint.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 392 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 29mm | 400g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 114 Illustrations, unspecified
  • 0500294704
  • 9780500294703
  • 1,090,308

Table of contents

1. 14 Abercorn Place * 2. Pope Francis * 3. Euston Road in Camberwell * 4. The Spirit in the Mass (at Borough Polytechnic) * 5. Girl with Roses * 6. Leaping into the Void * 7. Translating Life into Art: Bacon and Freud in the 50s * 8. Two Climbers Roped Together: Auerbach and Kossoff * 9. An Arena in Which to Act * 10. What Makes the Modern Home so Different? * 11. The Situation in London, 1960 * 12. The Artist Thinks: Hockney and his Contemporaries
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Review quote

'An anecdote-rich study of the geniuses and oddballs - Bacon, Freud, Hockney and more - who revived British art after the Second World War' - The Times 'A masterpiece ... a major work of art history' - Wall Street Journal 'A seminal work: limpidly written, replete with lightly worn scholarship and unrivalled intimate knowledge' - William Boyd, New Statesman 'Superb ... you hang on to every word' - Rachel Cooke, Observer 'All the good stories, and more, are here ... a genuinely encyclopaedic work ... Everybody interested in the subject should read it' - Andrew Marr, Sunday Times 'A wise and authoritative account of the post-war London art scene' - Artists & Illustrators
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About Martin Gayford

Martin Gayford is art critic for The Spectator and the author of acclaimed books on Van Gogh, Constable and Michelangelo. He is the author of Man with a Blue Scarf, Rendez-vous with Art and A Bigger Message. He has collaborated with David Hockney on A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney and A History of Pictures, and has co-written a volume of travels and conversations with Philippe de Montebello: Rendez-vous with Art.
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