John Minton and the Romantic Tradition
28 January – 9 March 2017
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Minton’s birth, the exhibition brings together his work with that of his Neo-Romantic contemporaries.
Just like the 19th-century Romantic visionaries William Blake and Samuel Palmer, the Neo-Romantics drew inspiration from nature, but also from their experiences of living through the Second World War and the difficult years that followed. As well as rural beauty they painted urban decay; the destruction of homes and cities, moody landscapes, lonely figures and sombre scenes.
John Minton was a key figure in Neo-Romanticism in the 1940s. While he is best remembered as an illustrator his output was in fact, far more diverse. Having been discharged from the army in 1943 for medical reasons, he devoted himself to painting and drawing, producing landscapes and portraits as well as sketches. He would often portray a young male figure in emotionally charged scenes, once saying: 'Every living person has certain feelings about the world around him. It is these feelings, common to all men, which are the raw materials of the artist's inspiration'.
As abstract painting grew in popularity during the 1950s, Minton felt he was becoming increasingly out of touch. He began suffering from psychological difficulties and abusing alcohol and in 1957 he overdosed on sleeping tablets, dying aged just 39 at his London home.
The Lightbox pays tribute to the artist in an exhibition celebrating his achievements in Neo-Romanticism. His work is shown alongside that of other proponents of the movement, including Graham Sutherland, Michael Ayrton, John Craxton, John Piper and Keith Vaughan.