The St Ives Artists Paperback
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First published by Lund Humphries in 2008, The St Ives Artists: A Biography of Place and Time has become the classic account of the St Ives group of artists. Our beautifully produced new edition, published in 2016, is now available in an accessible paperback format.
The flourishing of international modernism in Cornwall was a unique episode in the story of modern art in Britain – perhaps anywhere in the world. No other small seaside town has been host to such a roll-call of major artists. Weaving in-depth research into a narrative of ‘startling anecdotal richness’, Michael Bird explores the many – often unexpected – connections between St Ives artists and broader currents in 20th-century British history. He sets the careers of international artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Patrick Heron and Peter Lanyon in the context of a local environment that held powerful meanings for their work.
Bird examines the influence of the two world wars, the birth of the Welfare State and the Cold War, the space race of the 1960s – all of which found echoes in artists’ work – as well as the position of women artists in St Ives, the role of social class, and relations between artists and the community. The artists themselves emerge as vivid personalities. Do Alfred Wallis, Naum Gabo, Bernard Leach and Roger Hilton really have anything in common? The answers Michael Bird uncovers add up to a fascinating and highly readable account of the St Ives phenomenon.