John Minton (1917-1957), North Country Industrial Town, 1945, oil on canvas, 53 x 76 cm, Picker House.
Successive diagonals staccato the buildings, planes of colour intersect relentlessly. A pair of ruddy lovers tryst in the foreground. They are quite 2D against the quaking dynamism of the architecture, an exhausted relief struck out of their environment. Those dead eyes are the real punctum here – a more powerful vanishing point than the end of the street that disappears into darkness.
John Minton was born in Cambridgeshire in 1917. Primarily known as a book illustrator, his artistic style was quite varied, from straightforward portraiture to Cubist-inspired semi-abstraction. The species of his image-making that North Country Industrial Town belongs to appears to me his most striking and original. Echoing a less playful Georg Grosz, with hints of De Chirico’s uncanny, these depictions of post-war British life seem to me far more archetypal, evocative and mysterious than L.S. Lowry’s repetitive and simplified scenes. Minton committed suicide in 1957. DH
This painting is located in Picker House, a remarkable late 1960s modernist home specifically designed to accommodate a significant international collection of modern and contemporary painting and sculpture. Situated on the outskirts of London, in Kingston upon Thames, the artworks from artists like Chagall, Frink, Hepworth, Lowry and Rodin, are all collected in this brand new book.