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John Craxton

Last night saw the launch of the new book on the life and work of John Craxton at Tate Britain.

Written by Ian Collins, who came to know Craxton well in the last 10 years of his life, and published by Lund Humphries, the book also features an introduction by Sir David Attenborough, who was filming a piece for next week’s Culture Show on Craxton amidst the timely new display of his paintings at Tate Britain.

As well as the Tate’s collection of Craxton’s work, there are several important paintings lent from private collectors from his early work when sharing a studio with Lucian Freud to his later Ghika influenced landscapes from Crete. There are also some very wonderful letters from Craxton, which are works of art in themselves.

I wrote my degree dissertation on Craxton and have loved his work for many years. He never did respond to my letters asking to interview him (though a few years later sent me a very sweet card with his apologies for not being able to come to a show I had on as he was in Crete). It was fascinating to find out that Craxton had forbidden anyone to write about him during his lifetime, but that he had finally agreed to Ian writing this monograph to be published to celebrate his 90th birthday. Such a shame he isn’t around to see the day, but both the book and the Tate display are highly recommended, and will hopefully bring Craxton the wider recognition his beautiful and blissful paintings deserve.

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