John Piper Biography

John Piper




The British painter/printmaker John Piper was born in Epsom, Surrey, England in 1903. He began his artistic training between 1921 and 1928 where he studied first at Richmond School of Art, England and then at the Royal College of Art in London. His early works were basically straightforward, picturesque landscapes of the South Coast. His training instilled in him an interest and concern for drawing that would characterize his works throughout his life.

Piper was a versatile artist who worked in a variety of mediums including book illustrations, theater designs, pottery design, stained glass and textiles. His greatest love was for natural phenomena and architecture and his works are characterized by a sense of atmosphere and light.

Beginning in 1928, Piper emerged as a discerning art critic due to his love of looking at art and his insight in discussing it. In the 1930s he became involved with an abstract movement under the leadership of the prominent artists Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. Then in 1933 he made a visit to Paris where he encountered another group of abstract artists including Braque, Leger, Brancusi, and Helion. Piper's own work created between 1935 and 1937 moved into an abstract style characterized by grays, blues, blacks, and accents of red. Piper's real interest though lay in architecture and landscape. He gradually moved away from abstract and returned to landscapes, inspired by frequent trips throughout Eland and Wales. Between 1939 and 1945 he continued working in a dark palette in his work as an official war artist. He was commissioned to record damaged historical building. Following the war, excursions to Venice stimulated Piper into using warmer hues in his creation of landscape devoid of human presence.

John Piper died on June 28, 1992 at Fawley Bottom, Oxfordshire, England.