Centenary Touring Exhibition to launch in Athens – Tuesday 12 April 2022

There are major celebrations in 2022 for John Craxton’s centenary – with a very special touring exhibition launching at the Benaki Museum in Athens on Tuesday 12 April and running to Sunday 11 September. The retrospective survey then opens at the Municipal Art Gallery in Chania on Monday 3 October – what would have been John’s 100th birthday. Further venues will be announced later.

Nearly 100 exhibits in Athens will chart the entire Craxton career, and most especially his abiding love for Greece. Many have never been seen before. The show’s centrepiece will be the vast Landscape with the Elements tapestry John designed and oversaw in Edinburgh, for the University of Stirling, during Greek exile under the military junta in Athens. Paying homage to traditional Cretan weaving, and to the mythology, climate, scenery and sensuality of Greece, this masterwork has never left Scotland until now. At the Benaki it will be lit in a church-like space by mermaid lamps John designed for his friend, the Greek poet George Seferis.

The Athens exhibition will launch the Greek edition of the John Craxton biography by Ian Collins from Patakis publishing and there will also be a catalogue with new texts and selected images.

More news soon an a programme of talks, guided tours and educational events.

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John Craxton: A Life of Gifts in running for major book awards

The long-awaited biography John Craxton: A Life of Gifts, written by Ian Collins and published by Yale University Press in 2021, has been warmly and widely reviewed and it is already in a second edition.

Now the beautifully presented book has been short-listed for the Biographers’ Club/Slightly Foxed First Biography Prize and long-listed for the Runciman Award.

A Greek version is coming soon and a Turkish edition will follow.

Craxton pictures from the Britten-Pears Collection on view at the Aldeburgh Festival – Friday 3 to Sunday 26 June 2022

This year’s extended Aldeburgh Festival will include a tribute to John Craxton. All of the 13 Craxton paintings and drawings collected by singer Peter Pears, and normally hung in the Red House – the home he shared with composer Benjamin Britten – will be on view in the Concert Hall Gallery at Snape Maltings. Free entry.

An essay on this very personal Suffolk collection has been written for the festival book by Ian Collins.

Image: Two Greek Dancers (detail), 1951

Craxton-Picasso, Holt Festival, Norfolk, Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 July 2022

This centenary exhibition will pair Craxton pictures with Picasso ceramics, many from the collection of the late Sir Richard and Lady Sheila Attenborough. The display will be augmented with often previously unseen works by mould-breaking artists in Craxton’s circle, including Lucian Freud, Graham Sutherland, John Piper, Robert Colquhoun and Nikos Ghika.

Free entry. Details of talks and other events will be announced soon.

Image: Shepherd and Rocks, 1943. Lender: Britten Pears Arts

The Photographs of Joan Leigh Fermor: Artist and Lover

The Photographs of Joan Leigh Fermor: Artist and Lover

The book, edited by Olivia Stewart and Ian Collins, is linked to a major exhibition of Joan Leigh Fermor’s photographs, at the Benaki Museum in Athens until 21 October.

Elusive, enigmatic and beautiful, Joan Leigh Fermor (1912-2003) was a close friend of John Craxton and also one of the finest photographers of her time.

Although hailed and hired by John Betjeman and Cyril Connolly from the 1930s, and a remarkable recorder of the London Blitz, she most excelled in pictures of unspoilt Greece taken between 1945 and 1960 as visual notes and with no thought of publication. The scale of her achievement was only discovered after her death in 2003. What emerge in her wide-ranging work is an eye of immense subtlety and empathy, and an entire absence of ego. The artist’s ease is reciprocated in the faces of Cretan shepherds, Meteoran monastics and Macedonian bear-tamers. Her vision is both intimate in portraiture and architecture, and panoramic in landscape, and most firmly focused in an abiding love of Greece. The archive of 5,000 images now in the National Library of Scotland – and introduced in this monograph – reveals, at long last, a 20th century photographer of significance.

Exhibition Details

Benaki Museum, Athens
Duration: 23 May – 21 October 2018

John and Paddy dance on the beach – Greece, 1951

Charmed Lives in Greece Exhibition at the British Museum

Charmed Lives in Greece Exhibition at the British Museum

This exhibition focuses on the friendship of the artists Niko Ghika and John Craxton, and the writer Patrick Leigh Fermor. Their shared love of Greece was fundamental to their work, as they embraced its sights, sounds, colours and people.

Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika (1906–1994), John Craxton (1922–2009) and Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915–2011) were significant cultural figures of the 20th century. Leigh Fermor is perhaps the most widely known of the three – largely through his travel writings – and Ghika and Craxton are now recognised as two of the most remarkable artists of this period. The three first met at the end of the Second World War, becoming lifelong friends and spending much of their subsequent lives in Greece. The time they spent together and their close bonds would shape each other’s work for the rest of their lives.

The exhibition brings together their artworks, photographs, letters and personal possessions in the UK for the first time. Highlights include Ghika’s extraordinary painting Mystras and Craxton’s exuberant Still Life with Three Sailors. Also featured is Craxton’s original artwork for the book covers of Leigh Fermor’s travel classics A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. Many artworks and objects on display are on loan from the Benaki Museum, to which Ghika donated his house and works, from the Craxton Estate, and from institutions and private collections in the UK and Greece.

The exhibition focuses on four key places – Hydra, Kardamyli, Crete and Corfu – where they lived and spent time together. Hydra is an island where Ghika’s family home became a gathering place for the three friends, and Leigh Fermor built a house with his wife Joan at Kardamyli. Craxton restored a house at Chania on Crete, and Corfu is where Ghika and his second wife Barbara transformed an old building into an idyllic home and garden.

Together, these places chart the story of this remarkable friendship, and how the people and landscapes of Greece were a great influence on their enduring works.

Exhibition Details

The British Museum, London
Duration: 8 March – 15 July 2018

John Craxton in Greece: The Unseen Works. A launch exhibition with Osborne Samuel

John Craxton Couple by the Sea Panorama Revisited 1950s

The Craxton Estate now works with the leading London gallery of Osborne Samuel. Headed by Peter Osborne and Gordon Samuel, the gallery specialises in Modern British Painting and Sculpture and has a high reputation for the quality of its exhibitions and publications.

Our launch exhibition John Craxton in Greece: The Unseen Works ran from 10 May to 8 June 2018 and was an enormous success. With daily crowds, the show was the most popular in the West End gallery’s history.

View the John Craxton in Greece fully illustrated catalogue
View the John Craxton in Greece fully illustrated catalogue

While most of the featured works have now sold, the fully-illustrated, 68-page catalogue – with essays by Ian Collins, Richard Morphet and Gordon Samuel – can be viewed here

Osborne Samuel always keeps a stock of Craxton pictures in its Dering Street showrooms and also exhibits at major art fairs in Britain and abroad.

Osborne Samuel
23 Dering Street, London W1S 1AW
Tel: 020 7493 7939
Email: info@osbornesamuel.com

Opening Times: Monday to Friday 10am-6pm
Nearest tube: Bond Street