Course overview

Discover the fascinating life and work of 20th century artist, Paul Nash. Chart his significant impact on British art from 1914 to his death in 1946: from his experiences as Official War Artist during both World Wars; and his contribution to the development of British Surrealism and modern landscape. The course explores also Nash’s fruitful collaboration with his wife, the writer and Suffragette, Margaret Odeh. Central to this course will be a focus on Nash’s interest in spirituality and Eastern philosophies, exploring how his paintings articulated certain subjects and motifs that helped him make sense of a world of conflict.

Course description

Paul Nash is one of the most imaginative British artists of the early to mid-20th century associated with Surrealism and as Official War Artist. This course explores the cultural and political context and considers how his paintings reflected the period in which he lived, until his death in 1946. Through activities and discussions, we trace Nash’s career from his time at the Slade School of Art in London; and his service on the Western Front as Official War Artist during the First World War, an experience which fundamentally influenced the subjects of his painting. We investigate how the war shaped the development of Nash’s enigmatic landscape style during the 1920s in Britain and France. He and his wife, the writer Margaret Odeh, cultivated interests in East Asian philosophies, aspects of which influenced his Surrealist paintings. Nash was central in the establishment of the British Surrealist movement, as co-organiser of the landmark 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition, that introduced Surrealism to Britain. The late years of Nash’s life were dominated by the Second World War when he produced commissions for the RAF and the Air Ministry. His late paintings are mysterious, reflecting the natural world and inspired by his interest in spirituality.

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