The narrow historical range of this book enables its author to delve deeply into the networks of patronage and influence which sustained the art world, and to examine the shifts in reputation of six artists: Robert Colquhoun, Gerard Dillon, Louis Le Brocquy, Graham Sutherland, Paul Nash and Francis Bacon. It is not a picture book, but a book of facts with scattered black and white photographs, one of which (on p117) is incorrectly captioned as Patrick Heron. The book’s utility design can be bleak, but generally the content triumphs over it, with the exception of the footnote numbers which are too prominent, being larger than the page numbers. Although packed with useful information, there are occasional factual lapses: Michael Saint-Denis should be Michel, Bryan Robertson was not Australian but a Londoner, George Melly was not yet famous in the late 1940s, and there has not been “a huge number of books” on Paul Nash. But, on the whole, this is a refreshing and invigorating presentation that challenges assumptions: a welcome addition to the literature of the period.
British and Irish Art 1945-51: From War to Festival, Adrian Clark, Hogarth Arts in association with Paul Holberton Publishing, £30 (hb) ISBN 9780955406348
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'British and Irish Art 1945-51: From War to Festival, Adrian Clark'