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Modernists & Mavericks

Bacon, Freud, Hockney and the London Painters

Martin Gayford


‘If you are interested in modern British art, the book is ­unputdownable. If you are not, read it’ Grey Gowrie, Financial Times

Also available as an eBook from Online store, Online store


‘What can painting do?’

This question bound together a diverse community of artists in London after the Second World War. In answering it, many became household names: Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, David Hockney, Bridget Riley, Gillian Ayres, Frank Bowling, Howard Hodgkin and more.

Drawing on decades of interviews, Martin Gayford unpicks the creative threads and maverick personalities of interwoven lives from postwar Soho bohemia to the Swinging Sixties. It is a story of friendships, experiences and artistic concerns shared between talented individuals who each developed their own singular approach to painting. All passionately believed that even in the age of new media, an ancient form could do fresh and marvellous things.


'All the good stories, and more, are here … a genuinely encyclopaedic work … Everybody interested in the subject should read it'
Andrew Marr, Sunday Times

'Superb … you hang on to every word'
Rachel Cooke, Observer

'A seminal work: limpidly written, replete with lightly worn scholarship and unrivalled intimate knowledge'
William Boyd, New Statesman

'A masterpiece … a major work of art history'
Wall Street Journal

'A wise and authoritative account of the post-war London art scene'
Artists & Illustrators

'An anecdote-rich study of the geniuses and oddballs – Bacon, Freud, Hockney and more – who revived British art after the Second World War'
The Times

'Superb, with vivid vignettes of the likes of Lucian Freud'
Daily Telegraph

'At once scholarly and wonderfully gossipy'

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Edition Type: New Format

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 392 pp

Publication date: 25 July 2019

ISBN: 9780500294703

Contents List

1. 14 Abercorn Place • 2. Pope Francis • 3. Euston Road in Camberwell • 4. The Spirit in the Mass (at Borough Polytechnic) • 5. Girl with Roses • 6. Leaping into the Void • 7. Translating Life into Art: Bacon and Freud in the 50s • 8. Two Climbers Roped Together: Auerbach and Kossoff • 9. An Arena in Which to Act • 10. What Makes the Modern Home so Different? • 11. The Situation in London, 1960 • 12. The Artist Thinks: Hockney and his Contemporaries

About the Author

Martin Gayford is art critic for The Spectator and the author of acclaimed books on Van Gogh, Constable and Michelangelo. He is the author of many books, including Man with a Blue Scarf, Rendez-vous with Art, (with Philippe de Montebello), A Bigger Message, Modernists & Mavericks, A History of Pictures (with David Hockney), The Pursuit of Art and Spring Cannot be Cancelled, all published by Thames & Hudson.