On the fifth anniversary of the death of artist Craigie Aitchison, Lund Humphries
publishes the first comprehensive survey of his paintings by award-winning writer Cate Haste, which re-establishes the reputation of this quirky, utterly distinctive and much-loved figure in British art.
Craigie was an original, in painting and persona. The colour in his work sings and his highly idiosyncratic vision startles. We see a dog or a flower, a mountain or Jesus, as if for the first time. This sophisticated child invented a world of innocent magic: touching, sometimes funny, but always pure. In this book we encounter the delight that was Craigie. Maggi Hambling CBE
Craigie Aitchison: A Life in Colour (5 November, Hardback £40) is the first book to cover the entire oeuvre of a painter whose distinctive and powerfully evocative style has earned him widespread critical acclaim and public popularity. Award-winning writer Cate Haste draws for the first time on original documents, family archives, letters, published interviews with the painter and new interviews with those who knew him to explore the relationship of his life to his work, the influences which shaped his visual imagination, the emergence of his distinctive themes, and the development of his painting style.
Craigie Aitchison (1926-2009), was born in Edinburgh and studied at the Slade School of Art under William Coldstream and Robert Medley. In 1954 he was one of 'Six Young Contemporaries' who showed at Gimpel Fils gallery in London, and the following year he was awarded a British Council Scholarship to study in Italy. His encounter with the exuberance of Catholic churches and Quattrocento frescoes had a profound influence on his art. Later he exhibited alongside the major figures of his day - Bacon, Freud, Auerbach, Euan Uglow and Michael Andrews. In 1988 he was elected a Royal Academician, in 1994 won the inaugural Jerwood Prize for painting, and in 1999 was awarded a CBE for his contribution to British art.
At the centre of Aitchison's poetic vision was his sophisticated use of colour and shape, giving eloquent meaning to his deceptively simple subjects. He distils each image - still-life, crucifixion, landscape, portrait - to its very essence of beauty, power or spirituality.
This fascinating and beautiful volume places Craigie Aitchison's work in the context of post-war British Art, reproducing many previously unpublished paintings and photographs of the artist. It will be widely welcomed by all those with an interest in the work of this original artist with a distinctive and haunting vision.
Cate Haste is a biographer, historian and film-maker. Her most recent monograph/biography was the first comprehensive study of the life and work of artist Sheila Fell - Sheila Fell A Passion for Paint (Lund Humphries 2010) - which won the Lakeland Book of the Year Award. She has written on political, biographical and historical subjects including Clarissa Eden: A Memoir (2008), The Goldfish Bowl: Married to the Prime Minister (2005) and Nazi Women (2001).