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John Minton

Yesterday I watched a recording of Mark Gatiss’ appreciation of the artist Johnny Minton (1917-57) on BBC4.

You may not have heard of him and therefore be surprised to learn that in the 1950s he was as well known as Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon.

He was the life and soul of the party, an active member of  the Soho set, but had a dark side of depression and alcoholism.

The move towards abstract expressionism that came over from the States in the 50s  did not suit his style, he lost his confidence and died by his own hand aged 39.

I had expected Gatiss to emphasise the homosexuality of a fellow gay but he concentrated more on the man and his works.

Minton was a teacher at Camberwell School of Art, illustrator and stage designer so possibly he spread himself too thinly.

An artist friend showed Gatiss a picture Minton had given her before his death of a dying man watched by a figure of death.

It was as dark as a Goya and a sad portend but showed what a fine artist he was.

Artists move in and out of fashion depending on art movements, their own output and galleries who represent them.

John Piper, Carel Weight and Graham Sutherland were all more sought after in the 1960s than nowadays.

Johnny Minton was also due a retrospective and that excellent museum – and supporter of modern British Art – the Pallant Gallery duly provided one in 2017.

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About Alice Mansfield

A graduate of the Slade, Alice has painted and written about art all her life. With her children now having now grown up and departed the nest, she recently took up sculpture. More Posts