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John Piper (1903-1992)

Painter, notably of architecture and landscape, designer of stained glass and for the theatre, and writer, born in Epsom, Surrey. His first wife was the artist Eileen Holding, his second the writer Myfanwy Evans, and his son the artist Edward Piper. Form 1921-6 studied law and worked in his father’s solicitor’s office before studying at Richmond and Kingston Schools of Art and Royal College of Art, 1926-9.

In mid-1930s after a visit to Paris concentrated on abstract painting, but then reverted to representational work. First solo show, of collages and drawings, at London Gallery, 1938. Member of LG in 1033 and 7 & 5 Society, 1934-5. Piper was a prolific writer, working for The Athenaeum, New Statesman, Nation and Architectural Review, publishing his first guide book in 1938. With his wife he produced the influential Axis – a Quarterly Review of Contemporary “Abstract” Painting and Sculpture, 1935-7. From 1940 for about 20 years had one-man shows with Leicester Galleries. His ballet designs included The Quest, 1943 and Job, 1948, as well as operas for Benjamin Britten. Piper was an Official War Artist in World War II. In 1942, he published his best-selling monograph English Romantic Artists. Was on several occasions a trustee of Tate Gallery, member of the Arts Council panel and a member of Royal Fine Art Commission. Stained glass window designs included Coventry Cathedral and Christchurch College Chapel, Oxford. Made Companion of Honour, 1972. Retrospectives were held at Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, 1979, and Tate Gallery, 1983. Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham gave Piper centenary shows in 2002 and 2003 and Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, one in 2003, the year that Dulwich Picture Gallery staged John Piper in the 1930s and Sherborne House, Dorset, its exhibition John Piper: A Versatile Artist. The Tate, Arts Council and many provincial galleries hold his work. Died at Fawley Bottom, Oxfordshire.

 

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