Paul Nash 1889-1946

Paul Nash was born in 1889 in London, and grew up in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1910 to 1911 under the renowned Professor of Drawing Henry Tonks, alongside Ben Nicholson, Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, Dora Carrington and Christopher R. W. Nevinson. He served in the Artists' Rifles during World War I until he was invalided home following a fall, and returned to the front as an Official War Artist. He was a member of the London Group from 1914, co-founded Unit One with Ben Nicholson in 1933 whose members included Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth and he was represented in the Venice Biennale in 1926, 1932 and 1938. From 1936 he was a leading proponent of British Surrealism and organised the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936. During World War II he was again an Official War Artist. He died in 1946 in Boscombe, Hampshire, succumbing to the severe asthma that afflicted him for most of his adult life.

 

Nash's achievements and influence in British, and international, inter-war art are near unsurpassable. Working in oils, pastels and watercolours, and primarily through the genre of landscape, Nash united various artistic legacies and traditions. His war works are without parallel in their evocation of the suffering of mankind represented by the destruction of the landscape, whilst the products of his Surrealist period evoke a quiet unease, a refined uncanny mood that marries the revolution of European Surrealism with the romantic British landscape tradition and the mythological and mystical heritage of William Blake to depict a pantheistic, all-encompassing natural world.