John Piper's Brighton Aquatints - the exhibition catalogue from Brighton Museum available to buy at Museum Bookstore

John Piper's Brighton Aquatints

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'a lovely volume, with over 100 pages detailing each of the prints and additional insights into the spirit of the late 1930s as a remarkable period of transition' - Fishink blog

A reappraisal of John Piper’s iconic early book: Brighton Aquatints (1939) 

Brighton has buildings unlike those of any other British seaside resort, from the onion-domed Royal Pavilion, to Victorian hotels and churches, and the sleek modernism of Wells Coates’s Embassy Court. These, and other features such as the lost West Pier, the stucco-covered terraces and even the humble rows of houses seen from the railway station, appear in John Piper’s 1939 book, Brighton Aquatints.

Issued in the first months of the Second World War by the publishers Gerald Duckworth, this luxurious limited edition with the artist’s signature of thunderous dark skies, was both strangely inappropriate and perfectly on cue for its time. Despite the British public having other things to worry about, Brighton Aquatints was extensively and enthusiastically reviewed. Although sequels were planned, Brighton Aquatints was the only genuine example from the whole of Piper’s oeuvre of a proper ‘artist’s book’. It was unique in other ways. No other British artist used the aquatint medium at this time for a whole book, but for Piper, the technique had a particular meaning in relation to his subject matter.

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the book, Norfolk publisher, The Mainstone Press, has released a new, updated edition which reproduces the plates at original size and has an extended Introduction by Alan Powers – the noted historian of graphic arts of the mid-century – to dig deeper into the story behind the book.

  • Author: Alan Power
  • Hardcover: 112 pages 
  • Date published: December 2019
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0957666566
  • Product Dimensions: 31.6 x 23.7 cm

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