Press View: 24 October 2016

 Curated by Emma Chambers, Curator, and Inga Fraser
Assistant Curator, Modern British Art

24 October 2016 – 5 March 2017
Supported by the Paul Nash Exhibition Supporters Group and Tate Patrons
Open daily 10.00 – 18.00 pm
London SW1P 4RG

Equivalents for the Megaliths 1935 by Paul Nash 1889-1946

Equivalents for the Megaliths 1935 Paul Nash 1889-1946 Purchased 1970

Paul Nash – Equivalents for the Megaliths, 1935, Tate
Oil paint on canvas, 457 x 660 mm © Tate

This autumn Tate Britain will presentPaul Nash, the largest exhibition of the artist’s work for a generation. Paul Nash is one of the most distinctive and important British artists of the 20th century. Renowned as a war artist in both the First and Second World Wars, the exhibition will further reveal Nash’s work from his earliest drawings through to his final visionary landscapes. Nash was fascinated with Britain’s ancient past and spent time in southern England exploring the downs and coastal areas. The exhibition will look at how these landscapes influenced his work and provided a stage for his engagements with international modern art movements such as surrealism.

The most evocative landscape painter of his generation, the exhibition will cover all the significant developments of Nash’s career, opening with his early Symbolist watercolours exploring the mystic life-force of trees, and the powerful shattered landscapes of the First World War. Nash became an Official War Artist in 1917, expressing the waste of life through the violation of nature. He created some of the most iconic images of the First World War such as We Are Making a New World 1918.

Promenade II 1920 by Paul Nash 1889-1946

Promenade II 1920 Paul Nash 1889-1946 Presented by the Trustees of the Paul Nash Trust 1971

On his return, Nash’s landscape paintings focused on places of particular significance to him including Dymchurch where a series of works such as The Shore 1923 reflected on his war experience and evoked the bleak beauty of the Kent coast. In the 1930s Nash drew on surrealist ideas to interpret the British landscape in a way that made connections between modernism and tradition. He explored the idea of a life force in inanimate objects from monoliths and trees to stones and bones. These ideas were realised through the juxtaposition of found objects with landscape to create mysterious encounters, in paintings such asEvent on the Downs 1934 and Equivalents for the Megaliths 1935.

Photography became an important part of Nash’s working practice in the 1930s, combined with natural objects in assemblages such as Only Egg 1936-7. This way of working was similar to that of Eileen Agar with whom Nash worked closely during this period and the two artists’ work will be shown together in the exhibition. In the late 1930s Nash’s landscape paintings increasingly explored the boundary between dream and reality such as Landscape from a Dream 1936-8. At the end of his life the Wittenham Clumps in Oxfordshire stimulated a series of visionary landscapes inspired by the seasonal cycles of the equinox and the phases of the moon including Landscape of the Vernal Equinox 1943.

Grotto in the Snow 1939 by Paul Nash 1889-1946

Grotto in the Snow 1939 Paul Nash 1889-1946 Purchased 1940

The exhibition will be the first to examine Nash’s position at the centre of developments in British modernism and his dialogues with international artists as one of the leading figures in British surrealism. It will show his contributions to major exhibitions of the 1930s, such as the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936 and the Unit One exhibition which toured across the UK in 1934-5. Nash was a founder member of this British modernist group of painters, sculptors and architects which included John Armstrong, Barbara Hepworth, Tristram Hillier, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Edward Wadsworth. The exhibition will show works by Nash alongside those of fellow Unit One members, exploring the debates about abstraction and surrealism in which Nash participated during this period. The exhibition will examine how Nash’s work was both an imaginative response to the natural world and at the centre of developments in modern art in Britain.

Paul Nash is curated by Emma Chambers, Curator, Modern British Art and Inga Fraser, Assistant Curator, Modern British Art. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue and a special publication on Paul Nash’s photography from Tate Publishing.

Behind the Inn 1919-22 by Paul Nash 1889-1946

Behind the Inn 1919-22 Paul Nash 1889-1946 Presented by the Daily Express 1927

Uncover the surreal and mystical side of English landscapes through one of the
most distinctive British painters
Paul Nash was fascinated with Britain’s ancient past and spent time in southern England exploring the downs and coastal areas. Equally inspired by the equinox and the phases of the moon, he used all these influences in his work, interpreting his environment according to a unique, personal mythology, evolving throughout his career.
Featuring a lifetime’s work from his earliest drawings through to his iconic Second World War paintings, this exhibition reveals Nash’s importance to British modern art in the most significant show of his work for a generation.
Totes Meer (Dead Sea) 1940-1 by Paul Nash 1889-1946

Totes Meer (Dead Sea) 1940-1 Paul Nash 1889-1946 Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1946

Artist biography
Paul NASH 1889–1946
Landscape painter in oils and watercolour, book illustrator, writer and designer for applied art. Born 11 May 1889 at Kensington, elder brother of John Nash. Lived at Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, from 1901. Studied at the Chelsea Polytechnic 1906–7, at L.C.C. evening classes at Bolt Court, Fleet Street, 1908–10, and at the Slade School 1910–11. First one-man exhibition of drawings and watercolours at the Carfax Gallery 1912. Worked under Roger Fry at the Omega Workshops and on restoring the Mantegna Cartoons at Hampton Court 1914. Member of the Friday Club 1913, the London Group 1914, the N.E.A.C. 1919 and the Society of Wood Engravers 1922. Served with the Artists’ Rifles 1914–17; appointed Official War Artist as a result of his exhibition Ypres Salient at the Goupil Gallery 1917. Lived at Dymchurch, Kent, 1921–5. First visit to Paris 1922. Taught at Oxford 1920–3 and the R.C.A. 1924–5 and 1938–40. Illustrated several books 1918–32, including Genesis 1924 and Urne Buriall 1932. Lived in or near Rye 1925–33. Represented at the Venice Biennale 1926, 1932 and 1938. Founded Unit One 1933. In Dorset 1934–5; returned to London 1936. Exhibited at the International Surrealist Exhibitions in London 1936 and Paris 1938. Settled in Oxford 1939. Official War Artist to the Air Ministry 1940 and to the Ministry of Information 1941–5. Retrospective exhibitions at Temple Newsam, Leeds, 1943, and Cheltenham 1945. Died 11 July 1946 at Boscombe, Hampshire. Memorial exhibitions at the Tate Gallery 1948 and in Canada 1949–50; an exhibition of his photographs was held by the Arts Council 1951 and a book of his photographs, Fertile Image, was published the same year. A fragment of autobiography together with some letters and essays was published posthumously as Outline in 1949, his correspondence with Gordon Bottomley as Poet and Painter in 1955. A further exhibition was held at the Redfern Gallery 1961.
Landscape at Iden 1929 by Paul Nash 1889-1946

Landscape at Iden 1929 Paul Nash 1889-1946 Purchased 1939


Lit: Anthony Bertram, Paul Nash, 1923; Herbert Read, Paul Nash, 1944; Margot Eates, Paul Nash, Paintings, Drawings and Illustrations, 1948; Anthony Bertram, Paul Nash, the Portrait of an Artist, 1955; George Wingfield Digby, Meaning and Symbol in Three Modern Artists, 1955; Sir John Rothenstein, Paul Nash, 1961.
Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings,
Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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