Accidental Alchemy

Oliver Simon, Signature Magazine, and the Rise of British Neo-Romantic Art

Accidental Alchemy
Neil Wells
NZ$ 107.99
Our Price:
NZ$ 91.79
h240 x 196mm - 208pg
17 Mar 2022 UK
Out Of Stock
Currently no stock in-store, stock is sourced to your order
The significant influence of the periodical Signature on fine art has long been overlooked. While few people nowadays will have read it, no journal has greater claim to have stimulated the taste that became British neo-romanticism in the mid-20th century. Oliver Simon, its editor, publisher, patron and printer was something of an enigma. Although shy, he somehow knew ' everyone' in the London literary and arts scene during the 1930s and 40s. So outwardly conservative to be dubbed ' the archbishop' by Ben Nicholson, Oliver elicited adventurous art from his artist contributors to Signature. The Signature artists were fellow travellers on a journey: young artists working in commercial art to pay the bills. Having mastered graphic techniques for applied purposes they then began to apply what they learned to their own artwork. Then they went off to War. . . Those interested in the work of Paul Nash, John Piper, Graham Sutherland, Edward Bawden, and Barnett Freedman will enjoy the story of the influence and fellowship of Oliver Simon, Signature, and the Curwen Press, on their art.
"Neil Wells' fascinating Accidental Alchemy brings to life the story of Signature and its quietly pioneering impresario, Oliver Simon. Backed by prodigious research and replete with insights into aesthetic connections and artists' lives, this entertaining, handsomely illustrated book deepens our understanding of a key strand in mid-century English Modernism. " Andy Friend, Author of Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship (Thames & Hudson, 2017) and John Nash: the Landscape of Love and Solace (Thames & Hudson 2020). "A rarity - an author who combines aesthetic sensitivity, with technical understanding and psychological insight. No other books in this subject area quite weave the threads to make such an original carpet as in this text. Here is a rich mind, obsessively researching, wandering imaginatively . . . just relax and bask in the originality of it all. " Ruth Artmonsky, Author Art for Everyone: Contemporary Lithographs Ltd. "Neil Wells charmingly and informatively relays the story of Oliver Simon and his championing of Neo-Romantic artists via Signature magazine. The seminal art and writings Simon elicited from artists such as Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and John Piper warrant revisiting to understand how they came about. The book is a triumph - original, full of human rationale and therefore very readable, carrying a time capsule of images and ideas that still resonate creatively today. " Hugh Fowler-Wright, Co-Author The Art of John Piper (Unicorn).
Neil Wells is a retired Chartered Accountant and Information Technologist. His specialist subjects concerned Information Design, and the psychology of Organisational Change in which he holds a master' s degree. He began working life in the printing industry, and for many years has researched and collected book illustrations, printed work, and original art by artists associated with the Curwen Press. He has previously contributed materials and information to monographs and exhibitions. Accidental Alchemy is his first book.

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