The development of painting in London from the Second World War to the 1970s is the story of interlinking friendships, shared experiences, rivalries, and artistic concerns among a number of acclaimed artists, including Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, David Hockney, Victor Pasmore, Bridget Riley, Gillian Ayres, Patrick Heron, Richard Hamilton, Prunella Clough, Peter Blake, Allen Jones, Frank Bowling and Howard Hodgkin.
Drawing on extensive first-hand interviews over 30 years with important witnesses and participants, many previously unpublished, the art critic Martin Gayford teases out the thread connecting these individual lives. His compelling narrative explores how painting thrived in London against the postwar backdrop of Soho bohemia in the 1940s and 1950s and Swinging London in the 1960s.
In Modernists & Mavericks
, Gayford reveals how, influenced by such different teachers as David Bomberg and William Coldstream, and aware of the work of Abstract Expressionist contemporaries such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, 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.
Modernists & Mavericks is illustrated throughout with documentary photographs and art works from the time.
"One wants to do this thing of just walking along the edge of the precipice." -- Francis Bacon, 1962
Martin Gayford is art critic for The Spectator. His books include Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud, David Hockney: A Bigger Message and Rendez-vous with Art (with Philippe de Montebello), and he is also the co-author with David Hockney of A History of Pictures, all published by Thames & Hudson.