• John Blackburn monograph publication


My monograph on the abstract painter John Blackburn was launched during a show of the artist’s recent work at his London gallery, Osborne Samuel in September 2018.

Here is information about the monograph, taken from its back cover:

This the first ever monograph on the work of the British artist John Blackburn (b.1932). In a major essay, Ian Massey traces the stylistic and technical development of the artist’s work from the ‘Encaustic’ paintings of the early 1960s through to the present day. He considers Blackburn’s wide-ranging output, of work produced both in England and in New Zealand (where the artist has for decades spent a part of each year).

The author draws on new research, including conversations with the artist in his studio, and on previously unpublished archival material, including a large body of correspondence sent to Blackburn by his early champion and collector Jim Ede, the founder of Kettle’s Yard.

Massey considers the artist’s work within an international context; one that encompasses St Ives modernism, art informel and arte povera; also taking into account key influences such as Bacon, Fautrier and Tàpies. In doing so he describes the artist’s often intensely physical methods and incorporation of found materials, their usage informed by a humanist philosophy that stems from Blackburn’s early experiences, and from what he describes as ‘the brutality of being alive’.

This substantial publication firmly establishes Blackburn’s significance, and positions him within the history of postwar abstract painting. It includes additional texts by writer and critic Andrew Lambirth, art historian and former director of the Auckland City Art Gallery Christopher Johnstone, and the artist’s long-time friend and collector Furse Swann.

• The book is published by Sansom & Co: