Modernists and Mavericks by Martin Gayford
Bacon, Freud, Hockney and the London Painters

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Gayford deploys Bacon’s voice to brilliant effect, and you hang on to every word, from his conviction that he wanted his pictures to look as if a human being had passed between them, leaving a trace of human presence “as a snail leaves its slime”, to his sudden, hungry observation...
-Guardian

Synopsis

Martin Gayford’s masterful account of painting in London from the Second World War to the 1970s, illustrated by documentary photographs and the works themselves

The development of painting in London from the Second World War to the 1970s has never before been told before as a single narrative. R. B. Kitaj’s proposal, made in 1976, that there was a “substantial School of London” was essentially correct but it caused confusion because it implied that there was a movement or stylistic group at work, when in reality no one style could cover the likes of Francis Bacon and also Bridget Riley.

Modernists and Mavericks explores this period based on an exceptionally deep well of firsthand interviews, often unpublished, with such artists as Victor Pasmore, John Craxton, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, Allen Jones, R. B. Kitaj, Euan Uglow, Howard Hodgkin, Terry Frost, Gillian Ayres, Bridget Riley, David Hockney, Frank Bowling, Leon Kossoff, John Hoyland, and Patrick Caulfield. But Martin Gayford also teases out the thread weaving these individual lives together and demonstrates how and why, long after it was officially declared dead, painting lived and thrived in London. Simultaneously aware of the influences of Jackson Pollock, Giacometti, and (through the teaching passed down at the major art school) the traditions of Western art from Piero della Francesca to Picasso and Matisse, the postwar painters were bound by their confidence that this ancient medium could do fresh and marvelous things, and explored in their diverse ways, the possibilities of paint.

100+ illustrations, 70 in color
 

About Martin Gayford

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Martin Gayford is a chief art critic for Bloomberg News. His previous books include The Yellow House and Constable in Love. He lives in England.
 
Published June 12, 2018 by Thames & Hudson. 340 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Modernists and Mavericks
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average
on Apr 03 2018

Frank Auerbach, one of many artists interviewed for the book, said his contemporaries belonged to “a British line of artistic mavericks, ‘people who did exactly what they wanted to do.’ ” This well-researched history shows the enduring results of such single-minded nonconformity.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Rachel Cooke on May 13 2018

Gayford deploys Bacon’s voice to brilliant effect, and you hang on to every word, from his conviction that he wanted his pictures to look as if a human being had passed between them, leaving a trace of human presence “as a snail leaves its slime”, to his sudden, hungry observation...

Read Full Review of Modernists and Mavericks: Bac... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Alexandra Harris on May 05 2018

Ayres is a vivid presence and Gayford gives a fine account of her vast, tumbling, ever metamorphosing Hampstead Mural...The great figures of the 60s are passing – which is all the more reason to be grateful for a book that takes us right into their world.

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