Major exhibition of Augustus John to open at Poole Museum in May 2018

An exhibition of the work of one of the towering figures of twentieth century British Art will be shown at Poole Museum in 2018. ‘Augustus John: Drawn from Life’ will open on 26 May and run until 30 September.

This major new exhibition is co-curated by the writer and art historian David Boyd Haycock and is organised in partnership with The Salisbury Museum. The Salisbury Museum will be host to a similar Augustus John exhibition in 2019 and is curating an exhibition about Henry Lamb in 2018 which will, in turn, come to Poole in 2019.

This will be the first major exhibition focusing on the career of Augustus John (1878-1961) since ‘Gwen John and Augustus John’ at Tate Britain in 2005.

In his day Augustus John was considered one of the leading artists at work in Britain. In 1917 The Times declared, ‘Mr John is, in England at least, the most famous of living English [sic] painters.’ This reputation was founded upon his extraordinary talent as a draughtsman, his great skill as a portraitist, and his Bohemian lifestyle.

Poole Museum’s exhibition will focus in particular on John’s early to mid-career, aiming to reveal to today’s audience why he was considered such a dominant figure in early twentieth century British art, and look in some depth at his outstanding achievements in drawing and etching.

Around sixty works will be drawn from a wide range of museums and galleries, including the National Portrait Gallery and Tate, as well as from private collections around the UK. The exhibition will highlight John’s close association with south-west England, its landscape and authors connected with the region, such as T.E.Lawrence. 

John set up home at Alderney Manor, in Poole in 1911 before moving to Fryern Court, near Fordingbridge, on the Hampshire-Wiltshire-Dorset borders in 1927. Fryern Court remained his principal residence for the rest of his life.   

Michael Spender, Museum and arts manager, Borough of Poole, said “I am delighted that Poole Museum will be staging another world-class loan exhibition, following the success of the ‘Lines of thought’ exhibition organised with the British Museum, which attracted over 50,000 visitors.

“Augustus John was probably the most important artist ever to have lived and worked in Poole, so it is fitting that this major exhibition is being seen first here. It is also pleasing that this a partnership exhibition with The Salisbury Museum, as part of our Wessex Museums Partnership programme, supported by Arts Council England.”

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