John Piper was a prolific English painter, printmaker, designer, ceramicist and writer, renowned for his versatile contribution to twentieth century British art and culture. With a varied career spanning sixty years, he is best-known for his paintings of Britain’s landscape and built environment.
During the 1930s, he gained recognition as an abstract artist, alongside contemporaries including Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson. Towards the end of the decade he reverted to a more naturalistic style, pursuing his interest in the landscape and architectural history of Britain. Between 1940 and 1944 he was appointed an official war artist and became renowned for his paintings of England’s bomb-damaged cities. Drawing on the British Romantic tradition, his paintings evoked simultaneously a sense of place, belonging, loss and nostalgia.
Central to Piper’s practice was his relationship with Myfanwy Evans, whom he married in 1937. Their creative partnership fuelled important collaborations across the arts, including with the composer Benjamin Britten and with poet John Betjeman. Piper also designed stained glass windows for notable buildings, including Coventry Cathedral.
Tate Britain held a major retrospective of Piper’s work in 1983 and his work continues to be exhibited widely today. A significant number of his works are in the Tate collection.