John Piper was an English artist, whose work spans multiple media, including painting, printmaking, and stained glass windows. Piper’s early artistic career was rooted in abstraction, and he began exhibiting his conceptual paintings around London from 1928. These paintings cultivated Piper’s fascination with rural Britain, depicting village churches, the Welsh countryside and agricultural landscapes.
Piper was later introduced to the British abstract artist Ben Nicholson, who invited him to join the Seven and Five Society in 1935 – a group of seven painters and five sculptors devoted to abstraction. Subsequently, Piper became one of the leading members of the Modernist movement in Britain in the 1930s. By the time that Piper was appointed an official war artist in 1940, he had initiated a stylistic shift in his practice, moving away from the total abstraction of his earlier work. Following his resonant war paintings and a series of commissions from Queen Elizabeth, Piper came to be recognised as a highly important British artist by the mid-1940s.
The 1980s were prolific time for the artist and his legacy; a major retrospective of his work was shown at Tate Britain in 1983 to mark his eightieth birthday, and in 1984, he was awarded Freedom of the City of Reading.