Title: Timothy Hyman: Anarchism and the ‘Ideal Picture’
Date: February 22, 2021
Notes: Notes: This is a preface to Anarchist Studies Volume 29 (2021) Issue 1, giving some context to the cover image.

Timothy Hyman first came to my attention after reading ‘An Authoritarian Art History’, his searing TLS review of a new art history survey text, Art Since 1900, by four scholars associated with the American art journal, October. Rightly characterising their survey as ‘a bid for the canon – as well as an attempted coup by a kind of fundamentalist sect’, Hyman exposed the authors’ neglect of modernism’s anarchist valiances, which went hand-in-hand with hostility towards the idea that creative autonomy had any purchase in the arts at all. Art Since 1900 treated the capitalist culture industry’s ‘capture’ of the arts as a given and Hyman vehemently protested.[1]

Hyman is a figurative painter in the expressionist tradition who takes great pleasure, particularly, in drawing because ‘when a drawing is going well, it takes on its own momentum and autonomy – unburdened, unimpeded, free of all the weight ofstylistic and cultural baggage that painting inevitably carries; free also of commodification, of any consideration of exhibiting or selling. It feels “clean”. It is one of the ways in which the human spirit finds liberty’.[2] This passage speaks to how anarchism figures in his art: the creative act stands autonomous, as a variation of anarchy realised. How he negotiates present-day political and socio-economic realities is another matter.

An important departure point for understanding Hyman’s narrative paintings and their self-reflexive grounding as an act of free creativity is his indebtedness to another anarchist, British novelist, philosopher, literary critic, and poet John Cowper Powys (1872-1963). As Hyman started out in the 1960s, Powys’ novels reinforced his pointed refusal of the then pervasive valorising of abstract art over figuration. Hyman adds, ‘I also loved the man (born 1872, so I never met him), his anarchist creed, his creation of a world that challenges all Hierarchy, his walks, and above all his sense of the minutiae of the Everyday being inseparable from the Visionary’.[3] French Symbolist painter Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), who also counted himself an anarchist during his youth, was a second important influence.[4] Hyman observes, ‘their [Powys and Bonnard’s] art always retains an 1890s elaborateness and sumptuousness of surface, in contrast with the starkness we’ve come to expect of “modern” art’ during the 1940s and ’50s, when abstraction comes to the fore.[5] Bonnard and Powys’ ‘defence of the values of “sensuality”’ keyed to theartist’s experience, in concert with their rejection of mimesis in favour of creative licence, led Hyman to the ‘Ideal Picture’:

That ideal picture would need to be large and complex, fluid enough to accommodate ‘just everything’. It would have to combine the mythical and allegorical with the most minutely observed depiction of everyday life. It would be panoramic, map-like, yet within this aerial view human figures would loom large,individuals with their share of the grotesque. The picture would contain within itself a cyclic rhythm … [6]

In this interview I will be exploring Hyman’s views in more depth, starting with when he came to identify as an anarchist and how this propelled his rejection of abstraction.

Allan Antliff (AA): Timothy, in your article, ‘John Cowper Powys: The Quest for the Pictorial Equivalent’, your anarchist-inflected embrace of expressive figuration is couched as a rebellion against ‘the cult of Barnett Newman’. You continue, ‘there is a famous photograph of him in 1963, standing in front of an enormous canvas divided into three absolutely flat colour-fields, entitled Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue. Modernism was, in painting, a much tighter construction, more exclusive and more repressive, than it ever became in literature’.[7] It’s strange that your rebellion against modernism entailed a conception of the work of the Abstract Expressionist movement’s most outspoken anarchist as repressive.[8] Can you share more on this issue? Were you aware at the time that Newman (1905-1970) was an anarchist?

Timothy Hyman (TH): Thanks for this perceptive question.

As an 18-year-old in my second year as a painting student at the Slade School of Fine Art in London,[9] I’d become intensely interested in Barnett Newman, both his art and his writing. Like most of my contemporaries, I was sucked into a kind of mythology of ‘The Void’, which seemed to forbid any observational drawing, and to render any figurative imagery paltry and banal. That was how the work of Newman was sold to us in 1964: as the culmination of a long iconoclastic imperative that led to radical ‘flatness’ (how could one put a line around ‘The Void’?). The genre of Newman’s writing that I’d plunged into was more or less mystical, and the cult of ‘The Sublime’ was at the heart of it. Yet I had already been inoculated with other possibilities, above all by two visits to Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s (c. 1285-c.1348) fresco of The Well-Governed City (1338-1339) in Siena, Italy.[10] Even if I was aware of Newman having stood for Mayor of New York,[11] I then knew very little of his, or anyone else’s, anarchism.

I still get a charge and a challenge when I encounter the best of Newman. Nevertheless, my own direction turned out to lie in a contrary tradition – the comic/visionary; what [British caricaturist] James Gillray (1756-1815) called ‘ye Mock-Sublime Mad Taste’.

AA: So, charting a course in figural expressionism at the Slade precedes your self-conscious turn to anarchism. When did you begin identifying as an anarchist?

TH: In the winter of 1974-5, I visited India for the first time, and those weeks happened to coincide with the extraordinary Gandhian reawakening[12] that took place around the activist Jayaprakash Narayan [JP] (1902-1979).[13] He had been a prominent leader of the left within the Indian Independence movement, but [in 1952] had moved ‘from socialism to Sarvodaya’, as a book of his would later be titled.[14] Staying at the sleepy University of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, I witnessed how Mohandas K. Gandhi’s (1869-1948) aspiration towards non-violent revolution, a radical reform of society, still had power to rouse even the most disenchanted. I read Gandhi’s great autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth (1948) and identified strongly with his serio-comic self presentation. On my return to England, I contacted The London School of Nonviolence,[15] and the group around Resurgence (1966-present) magazine.[16] I was living a reclusive existence outside London, but I committed to attending conferences that brought together a wide spectrum: both the charismatic prophet-like Lanza del Vasto (1901-1980),[17] and the more down-to-earth E.F. Schumacher (1911-1977) of ‘Alternative Technology’.[18] It all fired me up. I had previously given only very spasmodic attention to mainstream politics (though my elder brother had stood twice as a British Labour Party candidate). I was, and to some extent remain, unashamedly naive; much more interested in, say, the cinema of Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975),[19] or William Blake’s Jerusalem (1804),[20] than in the day-to-day machinations around Tony Benn (1925- 2014).[21]

The problem was there didn’t seem to be any role for me as a painter within the Resurgence fold. And by 1977, I’d begun to write and publish, to teach in art schools, and soon, to exhibit. I was still an Outlier, sequestered from any truly social role. I had to accept that my brush with Gandhism/anarchism had been part of my ‘preparation’ as an artist. My best impulse was perhaps that I might find other painters of like mind – both living and dead – and forge together some kind of Alternative – an Association of Misfits.

AA: Your perception that a contemporary artist such as yourself had no role in Resurgence brings to mind the introduction to the magazine’s feature issue on art, published in 1979. Here it is:

A large part of this issue is devoted to a theme – the future of art – which some readers may consider a minority interest. For many people ‘art’ is something that other people do. It is for a minority: for children, or those in need of psychiatric help, or the well-off, the well-educated or, most probably, just other artists – the poets, painters, musicians, acrobats, novelists who play a marginal role in society. A specialism of no consequence to the serious, adult, working lives of the majority of citizens. These prejudices are not empty. Since the Industrial Revolution ‘art’ has become the preserve of a small elite; has reflected both commercialism and romantic individualism; has become, indeed, little more than icing on the cake. Yet it was not always so. In fact, it is impossible to conceive of a society without art until we come to the modern epoch. Why should this be? What have we lost? What are the links between the degradation of art and the philosophy of Western rationalism? And what of the arts in the context of Resurgence’s own vision of the future? These questions need to be asked because the arts have always been integral with the responsibilities and potentialities of being fully human. They need to be asked for another reason. The debate on ‘alternatives’ is lacking a necessary dimension. Although the imagination was for [William] Blake, as for [Samuel Taylor] Coleridge,[22] the divine presence in man, it has received significantly little attention on the part of the growing number of ‘alternative’ thinkers. There is no contradiction: our culture has been a materialist one for so long that its voice, even the voice of an awakening acknowledgement of man as a spiritual being, is inevitably a materialist one. It is therefore time to redress the imbalance and look at the future of the arts in the context of a new metaphysical reality.[23]

How do you respond to this analysis of ‘romantic individualism’ and art’s degradation under modern industrial capitalism and ‘Western rationalism’?

TH: I suspect this was written by John Lane (1933-2012), a delightful and wise man who would much later become a friend.[24] I haven’t read it before: by 1979 I was detached from Resurgence, painting mostly about the experience of the contemporary city, and curating a huge show, Narrative Paintings, which came to the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London (1979).[25] John Lane’s art taste tended towards a kind of dematerialised ‘spirituality’. He lived in deepest rural Devon, and a recurrent image [in his paintings] was a ‘Tree of Life’ but dissolved in pale yellow light.[26] I would have seen that as a bit soppy and too simple. And although we might later find shared ground in Bonnard and Sienese painting, he certainly wouldn’t ever have stomached the harshness of Max Beckmann (1884-1950),[27] who has remained one of my guiding lights. About twenty years older than me, John was affiliated to a kind of art cult around the painter Cecil Collins (1908-1980) – another admirer of Powys.[28] I felt repelled by their righteous refusal of what [Samuel] Beckett[29] called ‘The Mess’– i.e., modern urban life, which they surveyed as from a great height. The underlying doctrine was of becoming a purer, more evolved being – and what could be more elitist, eh? I’ve always seen myself as fully implicated in the mess! And similarly, my reading of Blake – under the guidance of the art historian David Bindman (b. 1940)[30] – was much less neo-platonic than theirs, less ‘detached’[31]: a Blake battered (as I too often was) by cyclic storms and depressions, whose prophetic vein sometimes drew close to the burlesque satire of his great contemporary James Gillray. At thirty-three my own aspiration was to be fully engaged through art in the society around me.

AA: Your mention of an ‘art cult’ focussed on Collins’ art and teaching is intriguing! You suggest that Lane and others interpreted Blake’s work through a ‘neo-platonic’ conception of the world: that is, that the material world is an imperfect realisation of God, and our role in life is to gain consciousness of our imperfect being as part of God’s cosmos. How very distant indeed from the heterodox Christian Collins, the ‘Neo-Romantic’ and self-declared anarchist[32] whose work was championed in socially engaged terms by Alex Comfort (1920-2000)[33] during World War Two. What role this group’s ‘righteous refusal of the Modern Mess’ played during Lane’s involvement with the Dartington Trust and Schumacher College in Devon also interests me.[34] But that is another matter. Getting back to your trajectory, could you discuss your conception of being fully engaged in the society around you ‘through art’? Is Pierre Bonnard, perhaps, a model you looked to at this juncture? You’ve written one of the major monographs on Bonnard in which you explore at length his immersion in anarchist-Symbolist circles associated with the journal Le Revue Blanche (1889-1903) during a period when reactionary politics were on the rise in France.[35] Could you, perhaps, draw comparisons with Bonnard’s art during the 1890s and early 1900s and your own in the era of burgeoning Thatcherism[36] (1980s)?

TH: I didn’t truly explore the anarchist aspect of early Bonnard until much later; and I was already well into my forties before I realised that anarchist sympathies and affiliations were shared by so many of the acknowledged giants of modern painting – from James Ensor (1860-1949)[37] and Henri Matisse (1869-1954),[38] Carlo Carrà (1881-1966)[39] and Fernand Léger (1881-1955),[40] through to Alice Neel (1900-1984)[41] and the youthful R.B. Kitaj (1932-2007).[42] The early 1980s had been for me a heady and fortunate time, with everything seeming to fall magically into place: four months in India as a Visiting Professor in Baroda and on lecture tours, converging with a group of gifted fellow-painters. I was especially close to Bhupen Khakhar (1834-2003) and Gulammohammed Sheikh (b. 1937), both lifelong Gandhians.[43] They helped give me a new perspective on the Anglo-American art world. Almost immediately on my return, I had my first London solo exhibition and settled into a marvellously unmodernised eighteen-century flat cheaply rented in the heart of Soho, from which I would woo and marry Judith Ravenscroft.[44] Towards the bravura painting-culture of ‘New Image’ or ‘Neo-Expressionism’ suddenly taking shape, I felt, from the beginning, uncomfortable, alien, even though I had obvious cousinship.[45] Those paintings seemed too often over-scaled, without depth or specificity, and blatantly a commodity. I wrote, ‘They fill the galleries, but only by lowering the ceiling’. As to Thatcher, she had been a shaky and widely disliked Conservative leader until the Falklands adventure of 1982[46] roused the latent evil of nationalism. I made a few feeble attempts at anti-Thatcher satirical paintings but (as a friend put it), I ‘didn’t have enough devil in me’ to carry them through. My best pictures seemed to be ‘first-person’, exploring my intimate life in London through an explicitly subjective space – for example, Great Pultney Street: She Says Yes (1982). Looking back, perhaps one could say that such imagery did finally free me from ‘objective’ representation, as well as any faith in the neutrality of the camera lens. Painting was a medium by which one could assert that our experience of the world is a subjective construct. But I was always in parallel struggling with some more ambitious or monumental composition, which might go through many metamorphoses: some of the ideas first conceived in the 1980s may have come to fruition only decades later.

AA: Let’s hone the anarchist dimensions of your art as you conceive them. In your catalogue essay for the co-curated Hayward Gallery exhibition, Carnivalesque, you suggest ‘we need to discover the richer sense of Carnival: as emblematic of the liberty of imagination; as an ideology of unbuttoning’.[47] Am I correct to assume that this expressive licence, filtered through a carnivalesque (often grotesque) shattering of social norms and values that perpetuate hierarchies and the exercise of power over others, is part of your ‘ideal picture’?

TH: That is a very shrewd summary! I’d grown up in a grey ‘logical positivist’[48] and disenchanted culture; from which I’d emerged with a thirst for the magic of ‘illusion’ in art. Just when the flat picture-plane had become a modernist painterly dogma, I’d found my own idiom pushing deep into pictorial space – a kind of ‘re-enchantment’ of experience, complex and many-layered, much nearer to pre-Renaissance imagery than to our classical canon. Like Blake, I’m inclined to say, ‘Grecian is Mathematic Form: Gothic is Living Form’. In 1983-4 I had a year as an Artist-in-Residence based in Lincoln Cathedral, and published two long essays on English Romanesque Painting [see http://timothyhyman.net/]. Throughout these recent Covid-19 months, one sustained activity has been an exploration of English Medieval Illuminations: this wonderful imagery feels far more nourishing to that ‘Ideal Picture’ than subsequent British painting. Dignity and decorum in art are suggestive of fixed knowledge and settled property. I aspire to an idiom more indicative of our uncertainties, an art reaching out from the vulnerable self into the immeasurable world. An art that is open to fantasy but also to raw perception. All the nineteenth-century anarchist painters were concerned with the observational, from Camille Pissarro (1850-1903)[49] and George Seurat (1859-1891)[50] to Bonnard, who memorably defined his art as ‘the transcription of the adventures of the optic nerve’. Can we wed the kind of spatiality we experience when drawing in the street to a truly public art? Can what used to be called ‘History Painting’[51] now flourish again, but freed from its neo-classical conventions? I’m hoping twenty-first century painters will create multi-figured, complex compositions, whose very structure speaks of a more mobile and open human society.

AA: These reflections remind me of James Gifford’s remarkable revisiting of anarchist fantasy literature from the 1890s into the 1970s.[52] In a recent article, ‘Goblin modernism’, Gifford argues that a distinct anarchist current in post-World War Two (‘late modernist’) literature

… provokes something quite distinct: a radicalization of the inward turn in late modernism away from bourgeois individualism … and instead toward a transformation of the world as an expression of an anarchist ethos … The manifestation of magic in late modernist fantasy writers like [Henry] Treece (1911-1966)[53] and Powys takes the form of an action on the world manifested through an inward turn that privileges notions of subjectivity contrary to both bourgeoisdom and economic determinism while at the same time resisting alienation from the world via Enlightenment rationality.[54]

The authors’ focus is on ‘self-possession rather than the stabilisation of that shifting, protean, and unstable or plural self ’.[55] This constitutes ‘a resistance against the authoritarian stabilization of the ego’ generally.[56] Thus, anarchist fantasy literature s far from escapist: it is engaged, on the deepest level, with anarchy, our ‘being as’ anarchist, if I may put it that way. Am I correct to surmise this resonates with your vision, that there is a subterranean political genealogy at work here?

TH: Of course, I’d be happy with that interpretation! But are you letting me off the hook too easily? I certainly hoped to paint a ‘Gandhian’ image and have often felt half-ashamed that I seem only able to reach into the deep space of ‘The World’ through the prism of ‘The Self ’. Over the past forty years I have learned a lot about anarchism from my long friendship and dialogue with historian David Goodway (b. 1942)[57] – always supportive of both my painting and writing. Many of the art writers I’ve admired were broadly socialist, but by 2000 chinks in the Marxist armour were starting to appear. In T.J. Clark’s (b. 1943) Farewell to an Idea we read: ‘Anarchism is an aspect of socialism (…) that those of us wishing socialism to survive will have to think about again, this time without a pre-arranged sneer’.[58] So, however ‘subterranean’ my affiliation with anarchism has been, I think that engage- ment has been a determining factor, linking my art to my books.

AA: T.J. Clark’s imperious sneering aside, rest assured I wasn’t waiting for his approval (or that of any other Marxist art historian who fancies they ‘hold the keys to socialism’) before infusing my scholarship with anarchist values. And I am pleased to learn you aspire toward a Gandhian-inflected social outlook in your art: I won’t let you off the hook then.

[1] Hal Foster, et al, Art Since 1900: Modernism, Anti-modernism, Postmodernism (London: Thames and Hudson, 2004). The defeatist politics of cultural capture turn ironic when one considers the authors hold positions at the most elite universities in the United States – Harvard University (Benjamin H.D. Buchloh), Princeton University (Hal Foster; Yve-Alain Bois), and Columbia University (Rosalind Krauss). See Timothy Hyman, ‘An Authoritarian Art History’, Times Literary Supplement (Thursday 24 November 2005), timothyhyman.net

[2] Timothy Hyman, ‘Preface,’ Timothy Hyman: Fifty Drawings (London: Lenz Books, 2010), pxiv.

[3] Noah Saterstrom, ‘In Conversation with Timothy Hyman’, (2013): timothy-hyman.net

[4] Timothy Hyman, ‘John Cowper Powys: The Quest for the Pictorial Equivalent’, The Powys Journal Vol. 8 (1998): 118.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., pp118-19.

[7] Ibid., p117.

[8] For recent discussions of Newman’s anarchism and American Abstract Expressionism, see Allan Antliff, ‘Clyfford Still on the Margins of Anarchy’, Modernism/Modernity 27, 3 (2020): 491-517 and Robert B. Genter, ‘Barnett Newman and the Anarchist Sublime’, Anarchist Studies 25, 1 (2017): 8-31.

[9] Founded in 1871 and affiliated with University College, London, the Slade is one of the United Kingdom’s leading art schools.

[10] See Timothy Hyman, Sienese Painting: The Art of a City-Republic (London: Thames and Hudson, 2003).

[11] In 1933 Newman ran for mayor on an anarchist-influenced platform. See Barnett Newman, ‘On the Need for Political Action by Men of Culture’, Barnett Newman: Selected Writings and Interviews, John P. O’Neill (ed.), (New York: Alfred A. Knoff, 1990), pp4-8.

[12] Hyman is referring to the anarchist ‘Sarvodaya’ (the welfare of all; the raising up of one and all) movement, which adopted Gandhi’s concept of ‘satyagraha’ – an amalgam of two Sanskrit words, Satya (truth/being) and Agraha (holding fast/force), signifying taking ‘right action’. Satyagraha, the ‘truth-force’ grounded in love, gave rise to the non-violent resistance tactics that were the cornerstone of Gandhi’s political, social, and economic campaigns during the struggle for India’s independence from British colonialism. On satyagraha, see R.R. Diwakar, Satyagraha: The Power of Truth (The Humanist Library: Henry Regnery Company, Hinsdale, Illinois, 1948), pp1-2. Rapidly gaining momentum after Gandhi’s death in 1948, the Sarvodaya movement’s non-violent revolution entailed the dissolution of private property in favour of communal ownership of land to benefit the peasantry and local self-sufficiency based on small-scale manufacture, an end to the caste system and economic inequality, and the dissolution of central government in favour of local self-governance. See Gregory Ostergaard and Melville Currell, The Gentle Anarchists: A Study of the Leaders of the Sarvodaya Movement for Non-violent Revolution in India (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), pp32-49 (principles); p390 (sarvodaya).

[13] Narayan joined the Sarvodaya movement in 1952. See Ostergaard and Currell, The Gentle Anarchists, p36.

[14] In Narayan’s words, ‘I decided to withdraw from party-to-power politics not because of disgust or sense of any personal frustration, but because it became clear to me that politics could not deliver the goods, the goods being the same old goals of equality, freedom, brotherhood, peace … The more this new politics grows the more the old politics shrinks. A real withering away of the State!’ See, Jayaprakash Narayan, Socialism, Sarvodaya, and Democracy (Bombay: Asian Publishing House, 1964), p156; pp170-1. Hyman references Jayaprakash Narayan, From socialism to Sarvodaya (Benares: Sarva Seva Sangh Prakashan, 1959). The highpoint of the movement came in the early 1970s, just when Hyman encountered it. See Peter Marshall’s discussion of the movement’s strengths and limitations in Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism (New York: Harper Perennial, 2008), pp531-535.

[15] The London School of Nonviolence’s activities can be gleaned from a series of evening talks held in the first months of 1972. Topics by speakers from the United States, Britain and Europe include ‘The Denial of Personal Hostility’, ‘Sources of Violence’, ‘A Preliminary Approach to Workers’ Control’, and ‘Aims and Work of a School of Nonviolence’. Meetings were held at The Crypt, Saint-Martins in the Fields, London and the School was affiliated with a group called Christian Action, London. See War Resisters’ International, Training in Nonviolence Bulletin #7 (January 1972), pp14-15. The document can be accessed at Nonviolence International and the Rutgers University International Institute for Peace (IIP), Digital Library of Nonviolent Resistance, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ: nonviolence.rutgers.edu (accessed, 05-10-2020)

[16] From its founding in 1966 into the period Hyman refers to, Resurgence explored a wide range of nonviolent avenues for ecological and social renewal that dovetailed with anarchism. Noted anarchists such as Mildred Loomis, Herbert Read, Judith Malina, Paul Goodman, and Murray Bookchin contributed articles on a range of topics: Jayaprakash Narayan and Vinoba Bhave discussed aspects of the Sarvodaya movement; and ecological economist E.F. Schumacher published a plethora of articles on how ecologically sustainable, human-scale technologies in concert with the decentralisation of socio-political systems could solve the ecological crisis precipitated by rampant industrialism on a global scale.

[17] Radical Catholic Lanza del Vasto was an Italian follower of Gandhi who established an international community devoted to realising Gandhian principles of self-sufficiency and nonviolence called ‘The Ark’ in France in 1948. Through the 1960s and 1970s, branch communities were established in several other European countries as well as Quebec, Canada. See Mark Shepard, The Community of the Ark: A Visit with Lanza del Vasto, His Fellow Disciples of Mahatma Gandhi, and Their Utopian Community in France (Arcata, CA: Simple Productions, 1990).

[18] Schumacher’s far-sighted prognoses for ecological sustainability continues to have an impact. See the Schumacher Center for a New Economics: https://centerforneweconomics.org/envision/legacy/ernst-friedrich-schumacher/ (accessed 06-10-2020)

[19] A controversial Italian film director and Marxist who also published poetry and prose works.

[20] Hyman references Blake’s most famous poem, which condemns industrialism and materialism. For an anarchist analysis of English artist, poet, mystic, and radical social critic William Blake (1757-1827), see Peter Marshall, William Blake: Visionary Anarchist (London: Freedom Press, 2009).

[21] Tony Benn was a noted leftist politician in the British Labour Party.

[22] Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was a renowned poet, philosopher and theorist generally credited with founding the ‘romantic’ movement in British literature.

[23] ‘De-Eliting Art’, Resurgence 10, 3 (September-October 1979): 1.

[24] Artist, educator, author, and radical ecologist John Lane served as art editor with Resurgence for twenty years. Educated at the Slade School of Art and the London Institute for Education, London University, Lane played an instrumental role in the Dartington Trust (founded, 1925), a Devon-based centre concerned with organic farming and sustainable economies which has involved the arts since its inception.

[25] The exhibition opened at the Arnofini (ICA) in Bristol (31 August – 26 October 1979) before travelling to the London ICA (26 October – 25 November 1979). See Timothy Hyman, Narrative Paintings: Painting from Two Generations, exhibition catalogue, (London: Arnofini, 1979). Exhibiting artists were Gillian Barlow, Paul Butler, Peter Darach, Maggie Hambling, Andrej Jackowski, Wynn Jones, Bhupen Khakhar, Ken Kiff, Michael Lawson, George Lewis, Alexander Moffat, Peter Sylveire, David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, R.B. Kitaj, Jeffery Camp, Anthony Green, Eduardo Paolozzi, Timothy Hyman, Michael Andrews, and Peter De Francia.

[26] Lane’s paintings ‘energize’ nature with vivid colours and expressive qualities to suggest the artist’s empathy with the natural world’s life force. Lane discusses his conception of art in The Living Tree: Art and the Sacred (Cambridge, UK: Green Books, 1992).

[27] Max Beckmann volunteered as a medical aide in the German army: the horrors of war precipitated a mental breakdown in 1915. Beckmann was a leading figure in the socially critical ‘New Objectivity’ school of painters. Appointed professor at Frankfurt’s Fine Art Academy in 1925, his work was acquired by major museums, but when the Nazis came to power in 1933, he was dismissed and condemned as a ‘degenerate artist’. Beckmann fled to Amsterdam in 1937 and remained there throughout World War Two. In 1947 he emigrated to the United States, where he died.

[28] Collins studied at the Royal College of Art, London in the late 1920s and began exhibiting after graduating in 1931. From 1939-1943 he taught painting at Dartington Hall before moving back to London. Collins was part of the anarchist ‘New Romantic’ movement during World War Two and its aftermath. See Mark Antliff, ‘Pacifism, Realism, and Pathology: Alex Comfort, Cecil Collins, and Neo-Romantic Art during World War II’, Modernism/Modernity 27, 3 (2020): 519-549.

[29] Irish playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett gained fame as an existentialist-affiliated author whose work showcases the absurd as the essence of the human condition.

[30] See David Bindman, Blake as an Artist (Oxford: Phaidon, 1977).

[31] For a reading of Collins’ paintings as indebted to Blake’s romanticism, see Mark Antliff, ‘Pacifism, Realism, and Pathology’, pp532-543.

[32] Ibid., p534, referencing Cecil Collins, The Vision of the Fool and Other Writings, Brian Keeble (ed.), (London: Golgonooza Press, 2002), p53.

[33] Comfort was a prolific author and social theorist who came to prominence in the British anarchist movement during World War Two.

[34] www.schumachercollege.org.uk (06-10-2020).

[35] See Timothy Hyman, Bonnard (London: Thames and Hudson, 1998), pp26-45.

[36] I am referring to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s leadership of the British Conservative Party (1979-1990), when her government sought to dismantle the British welfare state in favour of a neo-liberal economy in the face of considerable fight-back from labour unions, activists, and the general public. Resistance reached its peak with the anti-Poll Tax movement (1989-1992), which destabilised Thatcher’s government and contributed to her resignation as Prime Minister. See Danny Burns, Poll Tax Rebellion (Sterling, Scotland and London, England: AK Press and Attack International, 1992).

[37] Belgian anarchist, painter, and satirical etcher Ensor produced numerous grotesqueries mocking Christianity, monarchism, the State, and bureaucratic corruption, often in deeply offensive scatological terms. See Theresa Papanikolas, Doctrinal Nourishment: Art and Anarchism in the Time of James Ensor (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2009).

[38] Matisse co-founded the short-lived Fauvist movement (1905-1908), which included outspoken anarchists Maurice Vlaminck (1876-1958) and Kees Van Dongen (1877-1968). Hyman adds ‘his deepest anarchist links were with Vincent Van Gogh’s (1853-1890) painter-comrade John Russell (1858-1930) and with neo-impressionist Paul Signac (1863-1935)’.

[39] Carrà spent six months of 1900 living among the Italian anarchists of London’s Clerkenwell district before his involvement in the Milanese anarchist movement. He joined the Italian Futurist movement in 1910, but by 1918 was forging a ‘new classicism’, pittura metafysica, at odds with Futurism and its nationalistic politics.

[40] Léger was a member of the French Cubist movement before World War One: he served in the French army and after 1918 his commitment to socialism and libertarian syndicalism became more and more explicit. His late, monumental compositions of figures, such as Les Campeurs (1954), are among the twentieth-century paintings Hyman admires most.

[41] American portraitist Neel defined herself as an ‘anarchist humanist’ from 1940 forward. She trained in Philadelphia with the anarchist painter Robert Henri (1865-1929) during the 1920s.

[42] Kitaj would pay tribute to Michael Bakunin (1814-1876) and Alexander Herzen (1812-1870) in an epic early painting, The Red Banquet (1960).

[43] ‘The Baroda Group,’ which coalesced in 1957, had a significant impact on contemporary painting in India.

[44] Ravenscroft is a novelist and short-story writer. She married Hyman in 1982.

[45] ‘Neo-expressionist’ painting (figural in the main) came to the fore in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the UK, the United States, and Germany. Touted as a dramatic turn from conceptual art, performance art, and abstraction toward renewing expressionist currents dating to early twentieth-century modernism, it was quickly integrated into the art historical canon as a distinct ‘neo-ism’.

[46] The Falklands War (2 April – 14 June 1982) pitted Argentina against Britain in an uneven contest over the Falkland Islands, a remnant holding of the British Empire off the Argentinean coast which the military dictatorship controlling Argentina laid claim to and briefly invaded. British forces quickly defeated the Argentineans, and Thatcher’s popularity shot up.

[47] Timothy Hyman, ‘A Carnival Sense of the World’, in Timothy Hyman and Roger Malbert, Carnivalesque (London: Hayward Gallery, 2000), p10.

[48] A philosophical movement that argued scientific methods anchored inquiry in experience and thus yielded the only valid forms of knowledge (‘facts’). Logical positivism was anti-subjectivist and anti-metaphysical: speculative forms of inquiry were dismissed as meaningless. A.J. Ayer (1910-1989), who enjoyed an illustrious career teaching philosophy at University College, London (1946-1958) and Oxford University (1959-1978), was Britain’s foremost champion of Logical Positivism.

[49] Pissarro was a committed anarchist and leading artist in the French Impressionist movement (1870s – early 1900s). On Pissarro’s anarchism, see Allan Antliff, ‘Utopie Vivante’, Pissarro à Éragny: La nature retrouvée, exhibition catalogue, (Paris: Musée Du Luxemburg, 2017), pp39-46 and Richard Brettell, Pissarro’s People, exhibition catalogue, (San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2011).

[50] Seurat was co-founder of the Neo-Impressionist movement, which coalesced in 1886 and thrived before the advent of the World War One (Pissarro joined the movement briefly). Neo-Impressionism’s artists and key critics were anarchists, in the main. See Robyn Roslak, Neo-Impressionism and Anarchism in Fin-de-siècle France: Painting, Politics, and Landscape (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).

[51] An academic term denoting work of social significance, traditionally associated with State-sponsored commissions commemorating ‘great events’ (military victories, etc.) in the ‘history of the nation’ on the part of prominent political and military figures.

[52] James Gifford, Modernist Fantasy: Modernism, Anarchism, and the Radical Fantastic (Victoria, Canada: ELS Editions, 2018).

[53] Treece was a poet, theorist and novelist who co-founded the anarchist ‘New Apocalypse’ movement during World War Two. On the aesthetic politics of the ‘New Apocalypse’ movement in terms of the visual arts, See Mark Antliff, ‘Pacifism, Realism, and Pathology’, pp519-549 and James Gifford’s definitive study of the literary side of the ledger in James Gifford, Personal Modernisms: Anarchist Networks and the later Avant-Gardes (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2014).

[54] James Gifford, ‘Goblin Modernism: Modernism, Anarchism, and the Radical Fantastic’, Modernism/Modernity 27, 3 (2020): 556.

[55] Ibid., p556.

[56] Ibid.

[57] David Goodway is an anarchist and historian whose contributions to scholarship on twentieth-century British anarchism are multiple. See, for example, David Goodway, Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow: Left Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2006).

[58] T.J. Clark, Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a history of modernism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), p9. Clark is a much-acclaimed Marxist art historian whose theoretical trajectory began with a reworking of the social history of art through the lens of Louis Althusser’s structuralist Marxism in the early 1970s. Clark made a powerful bid for hegemony in the field, but was famously challenged by feminist art historians to devastating effect. He then turned to Situationist theory in a widely influential rereading of the nineteenth-century Impressionist movement – The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the art of Manet and his followers (1985). This, in part, was inspired by his past: Clark and two others had founded a British ‘section’ of the Paris-based Situationist International (1957-1972) in 1967 but were summarily expelled from the diminutive ‘International’ within the year. A concerted attempt during the 1990s to reconcile Marxist materialism with the post-structuralism of the Belgium-born Nazi collaborator Paul De Man had little impact, and by the late 1990s, Clark’s approach to the history of art was becoming more and more solipsist and aesthetic-based. In 2010 he retired from the University of California, Berkeley and moved back to Britain: he continues to enjoy considerable cache in the UK (periodically contributing to the London Review of Books, for example), but his reputation elsewhere has precipitously diminished.