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John Craxton: A Modern Odyssey

[ Exhibition )

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See John Craxton’s monumental tapestry in Chichester Cathedral from 13 December. Find out more.

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Landscape painting of three male sailors sat at a table laden with dishes and plates of foods. They all wear white trousers and shirts with a blue tabard.

Take a journey out of the shadows of wartime Britain and emerge amongst the sun-lit landscapes of Greece and its vibrant people.

This retrospective will follow the works of celebrated British Romantic artist, John Craxton R.A. (1922–2009); from his melancholic images of poets within brooding landscapes created in Britain in the early 1940s, to the radiant paintings and drawings inspired by his adopted homeland in the Mediterranean.

The development of his work reveals Craxton’s experiences of confinement and exile, his personal liberation as a gay man, and his celebration of travel and colour, all set within the historical context of mid-century Britain and Greece. Inspiration taken from Greek archaeology, mythology and Byzantine mosaics shines through his art, as do affinities with acquaintance Pablo Picasso and, youthful best friend, Lucian Freud.

Marking the rebellious twists and turns in his life, the exhibition will showcase glorious paintings, poetic drawings, book cover illustrations, ceramics, dynamic theatre set designs, and rarely seen pieces from the Craxton Estate.

Shown for the first time alongside this exhibition, contemporary artist Tacita Dean will present Crackers (2023), a new two screen film projection which she recently created in Crete as a musing on her friendship with the artist.

Craxton’s versatility will be set within the context of some of his contemporaries in a separate display of pieces from the Gallery’s collection. Selected by contemporary artist Jake Grewal, this exhibit will include works by Graham Sutherland, Keith Vaughan, John Piper, Paul Nash and John Minton.

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Curated by Ian Collins, author of John Craxton: A Life of Gifts (2021), in partnership with Pallant House Gallery.

Includes other works from Pallant House Gallery’s collection and builds on the touring exhibitions John Craxton: Drawn to Light, currently at the Mesher Museum in Istanbul, and previously John Craxton: A Greek Soul at the Benaki Museum in Athens (2022-23).

★★★★☆ A bowl of anchovies, some fried potatoes, a bottle of retsina: here is the good life, salt on the lips as well as in the air.

Rachel Cooke, The Observer


Pallant House Gallery’s autumn exhibition…falls on Chichester like a ray of hot Cretan sunshine.

Laura Freeman, The Times


There’s a playfulness about the whole enterprise, a kind of exultation, that seems entirely true to the legacy of this joyous, wholly individual artist.

Barendina Smedley, The Critic

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Want to find out more?

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Read the exhibition catalogue

Discover the rich variety of Craxton’s works with contributions from Sir David Attenborough, Ian Collins, Simon Martin, Miriam O’Connor Perks, David Mellor, Edmund White, Hilary Spurling, and Tacita Dean.

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A group of five people standing with their backs to the viewer looking at a range of artworks on the wall.

Join an exhibition tour

Join one of our exhibition tours with a passionate Gallery guide, who will take you through the breadth of fascinating works in included in the show.

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Listen to an audio tour

Download the free Bloomberg Connects app and dive into the exhibition with audio tours personally guided by the curator himself, Ian Collins.

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Delve into the stories behind the art

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John Craxton - A Rebellious 20th Century Artist

Art writer and curator Ian Collins explores the fascinating life of artist John Craxton on our Perspectives blog.

Read the blog

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John Craxton: A Romantic Spirit

In 2007, our director Simon Martin met John Craxton to discuss landscape in British art, his artistic influences and more.

Read the blog

Landscape painting of three male sailors sat at a table laden with dishes and plates of foods. They all wear white trousers and shirts with a blue tabard.

8 Things you need to know about John Craxton

Discover 8 key things about John Craxton, an artist who dared to be different.

Read the blog