Artist who painted pleasure and lived it too...

Artist John Craxton, who wandered in wartime East Anglia and later found a peaceful paradise in Greece, is now the star of posthumous exhibitions and a TV programme. His biographer Ian Collins charts his charm.

At 21 John Craxton had been the great – brilliant, handsome, life-and-soul-of-the-party – hope of wartime British art. But he had always wanted out.

Like many another art writer, I begged to write his biography but he refused. He changed his mind following a brush with death and my 2005 Making Waves account of artists in Southwold for which he had been a key informant.

We then worked happily together on the picture-led book he wanted, to be published for his 90th birthday, in October 2012. He said I could write the full biography once he was 'out of the way'.

Alas, John died 18 months ago and I am his art executor. The book published this week is his first memorial.


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Being charming, John had a charmed collection of friends. One was Sir David Attenborough – whom I asked to speak at his memorial service and on the Radio 4 Last Words programme.

He introduces my book and this week, between and during the book launches, we have been filming a feature for BBC2's The Culture Show, to be screened on Thursday.

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So: why our obsession with John Craxton? Well, he painted pleasure and lived it, too. He had a matchless love of life.

To find out more about John Craxton life, loves and works see the EDP Sunday supplement in this Saturday's EDP.

John Craxton pictures can be seen in The Red House, Golf Road, Aldeburgh, from June 11-26 (open 2.30-5pm daily) and at Tate Britain until October 9.

Tickets for a talk, The Quest for Craxton, by Sir David Attenborough and Ian Collins at Aldeburgh's Jubilee Hall on June 16 are available on 01728 687110.

The BBC2 Culture Show feature is on Thursday at 7pm.

Ian's John Craxton book, introduced by Sir David and with 240 images, is published by Lund Humphries at �35. But it is on offer to EDP readers until June 30 at �28 including postage. Telephone Bookpoint on 01235 827730 or e-mail ashgate@bookpoint.co.uk and quote code L11ELU20.

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