John Piper (1903-1992) was born in Epsom, England, and educated at Epsom College, the Richmond School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. He was a painter, printmaker and designer, whose work often focused on the British landscape, especially churches and monuments. Some of his most memorable works were done as an official war artist during World War II when he recorded bomb-damaged buildings. His design work included tapestries, fabrics, ceramics, stained-glass windows and both opera and theatre sets, while he also undertook photography and screen-printing.
In the late 1930s Piper was one of the leading British abstract artists, before turning away from non-representational art to naturalism. He then concentrated on landscape and architectural subjects in an emotionally charged style that was a continuation of the nineteenth-century English Romantic tradition. A stormy atmosphere pervaded his well-known views of country houses, while his image of Coventry Cathedral made him a household name, and led to his work being acquired by several public collections.
As a writer Piper is probably best known for his 1942 book, British Romantic Artists, and in collaboration with poet John Betjeman he edited the illustrated Shell Guides to four English counties. In his later years Piper produced many limited-edition prints, one such series being ‘Eye and Camera’, which he began in 1967. For these prints, which are distinctly different from his topographical work, Piper used fragmented and collaged photographic images, which were juxtaposed with drawing.
John Piper is well represented in the collection of the Tate – with 183 works.
- Richard Wolfe
Cascade Bridge, Halswell
Screen print on wove paper
64.8 x 85.4 cm
Eye and Camera, Red, Blue, Yellow
Screen print on Grande Vélin Arches paper
59 x 75 cm