Here is a portrait of a very remarkable man with huge talent for shape, colour and representation. His art is quite profound:
John Egerton Christmas Piper was a 20th century English painter and printmaker who lived for many years at Fawley Bottom near Henley-on-Thames. By the late 1930’s he became less found of abstracts and moved on in art work. He died in 1992 at the age of 89.
He was born in Epsom, the son of a solicitor, educated at Epsom College and trained at the Richmond School of Artfollowed by the Royal College of Art in London.
He was a painter, but collaborated with many others including the poet and author John Betjeman (on the Shell Guides series of guidebooks on the British Isles), the potter Geoffrey Eastopand the artist Ben Nicholson.
His work focused mainly on the British landscape especially churches, and he spent much of his life studying the buildings he depicted. He designed the stained glass windows for the new Coventry Cathedral with Patrick Reyntiens, as well as those for many smaller churches and created tapestries for Chichester Cathedral and Hereford Cathedral.
He largely withdrew from abstraction early in his career and concentrated on a more naturalistic but very distinctive approach. In his later years he produced many limited edition prints. He has had major exhibitions at the Tate Gallery in 1983–1984 and more recently (and posthumously), the Dulwich Picture Gallery (covering the 1930s), the Imperial War Museum(covering the 1940s) and, closer to his place of residence, the River and Rowing Museum and the Museum of Reading. He was appointed an official war artistin 1940. Here are a couple of his reflections about abstarction –
- Abstraction is a luxury that has been left to the present day to exploit.
- Abstraction is the way to the heart — it is not the heart itself.