- Date of Birth:
- 13 Aug 1889
- Date of Death:
- 17 Oct 1946
Born in Hampstead, C R W Nevinson studied at the St John's Wood School of Art (1907-08) and the Slade School of Art (1909-12). His early paintings were mildly Impressionist. However, exposure to the Italian Futurists strongly influenced his work.
Futurism was launched by poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1909, and celebrated the modern world of industry and technology. Futurist painting used elements of Neo-Impressionism and Cubism to convey the energy, speed and movement of modern life.
In March 1912, Nevinson attended a Futurist exhibition at London's Sackville Gallery. He met Gino Severini and returned with him to Paris. Nevinson studied at the Acadmie Julian, sharing a studio with Amedeo Modigliani, and worked at the Cercle Russe.
Nevinson exhibited with other Futurists in London in 1913. The following year, he and Marinetti published the Futurist manifesto, Vital English Art, in the Observer. Art critic Frank Rutter remarked, 'I do not know of any other English artist who was so profoundly influenced by the Italian Futurists'. However, the First World War permanently changed Nevinson's approach.
A pacifist, Nevinson served with the Red Cross in France in 1914. He later joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in London.
Three of Nevinson's war paintings were exhibited at the London Group's 1915 exhibition. Rutter recalled that they were 'the first war pictures to create a stir ... they were new things shown in a new way'.
Nevinson was invalided out of the army after contracting rheumatic fever in 1916. While recuperating, he painted a series of images based on his experiences in France.
In September of that year, Nevinson's first one-man show featured his Futurist images of the Western Front. He was one of the first painters to shock London with uncompromising images of the war. The bleak paintings he produced conveyed a very un-Futurist sense of disillusion, emphasising the tragedy and waste of war.
The exhibition brought Nevinson to the attention of the government's War Propaganda Bureau (W.P.B), and in 1917, the bureau sent him to the Western Front as an official war artist.
By 1919, Nevinson declared that he had given up Futurism. He adopted a more traditional vision, which combined an enduring love of the movement's angular forms with a new respect for real-life observation.
Nevinson's post-war subjects included English landscapes and dynamic cityscapes of Paris and New York. He worked in various styles, refusing to become part of any particular movement.
During the 1920s and 30s, Nevinson designed a number of posters, including 11 for London Transport. Promoting leisure travel to the country, the posters depicted pastoral scenes of the Home Counties with activities such as boat trips, walking and picnicking.
In September 1920, the Underground banned Nevinson's poster for Somerset Maughan's play, The Unknown, because the crucifixion looked like a naked woman.
Nevinson contributed to the second issue of Blast magazine, which was associated with Wynham Lewis and Vorticism. In 1920, he exhibited in Lewis's Group X exhibition.
Nevinson was a London Group foundation member and its secretary during the war. He was later a member of the New English Art Club (1929) and was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1939. A prolific writer, he completed his autobiography, 'Paint and Prejudice', in 1937.
Nevinson became an official war artist during the Second World War, but his career ended when he suffered a severe stroke in 1942. He died in London four years later.
- Nevinson, Christopher Richard Wynne
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