Nash, Paul

Nash, Paul Biography

English painter, celebrated for his war canvases and landscapes, some of which show influences from Surrealist painters and Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico.

Paul Nash studied at the Slade School, London. In 1914 he enlisted in the Artists' Rifles, and his 1918 exhibition of oil paintings portrayed, in an abstract, Cubist-influenced style. There followed seascapes and landscapes of distinguished design and cool, vibrating colours.

In the early stages of his career Paul Nash adopted a conservative style, influenced above all by traditional English landscape painting. Even during World War I, his work concentrated on distorted battlefront landscapes, which he represented in a number of ambitious, large-scale oil paintings. Nash's most innovative canvases date from the last 20 years of his career, when he began to combine landscape painting with European avant-garde developments. In Equivalents for the Megaliths (1935, Tate Gallery, London), for example, he represented the prehistoric megaliths of Wiltshire, England, as mysterious geometric forms, achieving a strong surreal quality inspired in part by de Chirico.

He was largely responsible in 1933 for organizing Unit One, a group of British artists including Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, and Henry Moore, who stressed the formal instead of the mimetic aspects of art. In the 1930s Nash's oil paintings developed freer design and richer colour, together with a symbolic vision influenced by Surrealism.

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