Paul Nash (1889 –1946) is among the most important British artists of the first half of the 20th century and a key figure of Modern Art in Britain. Renowned as an official war artist in both the First and Second World Wars, Nash was fascinated with Britain’s landscapes and ancient history. Inspired by these influences, he interpreted his environment in a very unique and personal way that evolved throughout his career.
Spanning a lifetime’s work from his earliest drawings to his iconic war time paintings, the exhibition will explore Nash’s central role in the development of modern British art. His progressive style provided a basis for his involvement with international modern art movements such as Surrealism. He was a founding member of the British modernist group Unit One which included painters, sculptors and architects such as John Armstrong, Barbara Hepworth, Tristram Hillier, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Edward Wadsworth. The exhibition will show works by Nash alongside his fellow Unit One members, revealing the debates about abstraction and surrealism in which Nash participated during this time. It will explore his contributions to major exhibitions of the 1930s, including the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936 and the Unit One exhibition which toured across the UK in 1934-5.
The display will consist of paintings by Nash from the Great War, such as the remarkable The Ypres Salient at Night, 1918, early abstractions such as Kinetic Feature, 1931, Surrealism and ancient landscapes such as Druid Landscape, circa 1938, and Equivalents for the Megaliths, 1935, amongst others. His illustrations for an edition of Urne Burial, the treatise by Norwich polymath Thomas Browne which was re-published in 1931, will also be included.
Image: Paul Nash, The Rye Marshes, 1932, oil on canvas Ferens Art Gallery: Hull Museums.