Paul Nash Artist Biography
One of the most original British artists of the first half of the 20th Century, Paul Nash is celebrated for his lyrical depictions of the British landscape, Surrealist imagery and his work as a War Artist.Born in London to a prosperous family; Nash expressed an early interest in art. His parents agreed to send him for training at the Slade School of Art. There he became influenced by the art and poetry of William Blake and members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. His earliest work display an interest in watercolours featuring moody, mystical landscape. After training at the Slade School he served in the First World War, was wounded, and worked as an Official War Artist. His work from this period includes powerful views of the pitted and shattered landscape of No Man's Land that rank among the most memorable images of the conflict such as "We Are Making a New World, 1918". Like many post-war artists, after his battle experiences Nash developed an interest in the abstract and surreal. In the 1920's and particularly in the 1930's he was influenced by Surrealism (above all by de Chirico, an exhibition of whose work he saw in London in 1928) and often concentrated on mysterious aspects of the landscape. For much of this time he lived in rural areas (Kent, Sussex, Dorset), basing his work on scenes he knew well but imaginatively transforming them. However, he continued to be involved in the London art world, and in 1933 he was the prime mover in the formation of Unit One; he also helped to organize and exhibited in the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936. When Europe turned to war once again in the late 1930s, the British government called upon Nash again. He was already very sick with the asthmatic condition that eventually killed him, but his war work included an acknowledged masterpiece, Totes Meer (Dead Sea) (1940ﾖ1, Tate, London), which portrays shot-down aircraft with their wings looking like undulating waves. Paul Nash was also regarded as one of the finest book illustrators of his time; he also designed scenery, fabrics, and posters, and was a photographer and writer, his books including a guide to Dorset (1936). His brother John Nash was also a painter and illustrator, excelling in meticulous flower drawings for botanical publications. Paul Nash continued to paint into his later years, and died in 1946.Read our editorial featuring Paul Nash: Nash andRavilious: The Art of the British Downs.