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Uplifting and engaging, this story recounts the life and career of a rebellious 20th-century British artist
Born into a large, musical, and bohemian family in London, the British artist John Craxton (1922–2009) has been described as a Neo-Romantic, but he called himself a “kind of Arcadian”. His early art was influenced by Blake, Palmer, Miró, and Picasso. After achieving a dream of moving to Greece, his work evolved as a personal response to Byzantine mosaics, El Greco, and the art of Greek life. This book tells his adventurous story for the first time. At turns exciting, funny, and poignant, the saga is enlivened by Craxton’s ebullient pictures. Ian Collins expands our understanding of the artist greatly—including an in-depth exploration of the storied, complicated friendship between Craxton and Lucian Freud, drawing on letters and memories that Craxton wanted to remain private until after his death.
About the Author
Ian Collins is an independent art writer and curator.
“A revelatory biography...reminds us that Craxton and Lucian Freud were once “thick as thieves”, 19-year-olds in wartime London carousing together at the Ritz in baggy blue jeans.”—The Daily Telegraph
“This beautifully produced book is a feast for the eyes and senses, full of reproductions of Craxton’s paintings of Greece, the country he loved most on earth.”—Ysenda Maxtone Graham, Daily Mail ‘Book of the Week’
“An account meticulous in detail and filled with incident...Craxton maintained a lifelong aversion to the prolix formulations of art critics, and it is easy to see how Collins, who excels at succinct yet suggestive glosses, was his ideal writer.”—James Cahill, Times Literary Supplement
"A beautifully written book...Craxton spent most of his life wanting to live in Greece and when he finally got there it was everything he wanted it to be. Even reading it feels like being bathed in sunlight."—Mark Gatiss, The Times
Winner of the Anglo-Hellenic League Runciman Award 2022
Longlisted for the William M. B. Berger Prize for British Art History 2022