John Craxton : A Life of Gifts available to buy at Museum Bookstore

John Craxton : A Life of Gifts

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'An illuminating account, dotted with wonderful vignettes [and] numerous magnificently vibrant depictions of the artist’s work...This uplifting book about a man who sought every opportunity to live to the full offers readers much to enjoy'- Evening Standard

Uplifting and engaging, this story recounts the life and career of a rebellious 20th-century British artist

Born into a large, musical, and bohemian family in London, the British artist John Craxton (1922-2009) has been described as a Neo-Romantic, but he called himself a "kind of Arcadian". His early art was influenced by Blake, Palmer, Miro, and Picasso. After achieving a dream of moving to Greece, his work evolved as a personal response to Byzantine mosaics, El Greco, and the art of Greek life.

This book tells his adventurous story for the first time. At turns exciting, funny, and poignant, the saga is enlivened by Craxton's ebullient pictures. Ian Collins expands our understanding of the artist greatly-including an in-depth exploration of the complicated friendship between Craxton and Lucian Freud, drawing on letters and memories that Craxton wanted to remain private until after his death.

Details
  • Author: Ian Collins
  • Hardcover: 384 pages 
  • Date published: May 2021 
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0300255294
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 cm
Reviews

'A revelatory biography...reminds us that Craxton and Lucian Freud were once 'thick as thieves', 19-year-olds in wartime London carousing together at the Ritz in baggy blue jeans.' - The Daily Telegraph

'An illuminating account, dotted with wonderful vignettes [and] numerous magnificently vibrant depictions of the artist's work...This uplifting book about a man who sought every opportunity to live to the full offers readers much to enjoy.'-Evening Standard

'Running through the highs and lows like a seam of gold is his distinctive body of work, beautifully illustrated, and the indomitable, teasing, sometimes rebarbative voice that charmed so many, always building up to the next joke, never taking itself too seriously, and sweeping all but the most cynical along with it.'- Spectator

'This beautifully produced book is a feast for the eyes and senses, full of reproductions of Craxton’s paintings of Greece, the country he loved most on earth... To read this book is to live in that world of sharp rocks, thorny shrubs, blazing sunlight, scraggy almond trees and gorgeous Greeks... If Craxton preserved his sanity by moving to Greece, he also sacrificed his fame. Having been a darling of Kenneth Clark, director of the National Gallery, he was later dropped, seen as an irrelevant expat who’d gone adrift... Craxton’s wonderfully positive life is sparklingly recounted here, and for me Collins’s book was an art-history lesson on a painter I didn’t know much about.' - Daily Mail

'... a joyful adventure story of an artist’s life. Illustrated with many letters and previously unseen paintings, this account of chaos and perseverance reveals Craxton to be a committed artist from his early years ... Collins's biography is constantly entertaining and visually rich with filmic moments...' - The Burlington Magazine

'An account meticulous in detail and filled with incident...Craxton maintained a lifelong aversion to the prolix formulations of art critics, and it is easy to see how Collins, who excels at succinct yet suggestive glosses, was his ideal writer.' - Times Literary Supplement

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