Now available in an attractive paperback, Modernists and Mavericks is Martin Gayford’s impressively researched and well-reviewed chronicle of postwar London painting.
Modernists and Mavericks explores the development of painting in London from the Second World War to the 1970s based on an exceptionally deep well of firsthand interviews, with artists such as Victor Pasmore, John Craxton, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, Allen Jones, R. B. Kitaj, Euan Uglow, Howard Hodgkin, Terry Frost, Gillian Ayres, Bridget Riley, David Hockney, Frank Bowling, Leon Kossoff, John Hoyland, and Patrick Caulfield. Gayford also teases out the thread weaving these individual lives together and demonstrates how and why, long after it was officially declared dead, painting lived and thrived in London. Simultaneously aware of the influences of Jackson Pollock, Alberto Giacometti, and the traditions of Western art, from Piero della Francesca to Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, the postwar painters were bound together by their confidence that this ancient medium could do fresh and marvelous things, and their urge to explore, in their diverse ways, the possibilities of paint.
Martin Gayford is art critic for The Spectator. His books include Man with a Blue Scarf, A Bigger Message, and Rendez-vouz with Art (with Philippe de Montebello), and Modernists and Mavericks.