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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 Amazon


‘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

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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 Man with a Blue Scarf, Rendez-vous with Art and A Bigger Message. He has collaborated with David Hockney on A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney and A History of Pictures, and has co-written a volume of travels and conversations with Philippe de Montebello: Rendez-vous with Art.