• 23 September 2019 to 17 January 2020
  • Drawing Room, Paul Mellon Centre

Blue/purple circular stamp mark that reads Peter Nahum Library - with Library in the middle A very large collection of books and exhibition catalogues was generously donated by Peter and Renate Nahum in December 2012. This was transformative for the Paul Mellon Centre’s Library collection, considerably enhancing our holdings on twentieth-century British art. The donation comprises thousands of books, exhibition catalogues and journals.

This display focuses on publications from the collection that were crucial to circulating knowledge and ideas about modern art in Britain from the 1930s through to the 1950s. Contained within the Peter & Renate Nahum Gift are some examples of the most significant modernist periodicals and publications of this period – Unit One, Axis and the London Bulletin. These publications championed the work of British artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Paul Nash and Henry Moore, but also reproduced images by artists from across the globe. Through the publications, we can track how groups of artists, critics, writers, publishers and booksellers worked collaboratively, and often against the grain, to promote contemporary art in Britain. Each display case focuses on one of the three publications named above and a selection of the artists and writers most closely associated with them.

Front cover of the London Bulletin from June 1940

Cover of The Arts, (London: Lund Humphies & Co., 1946-1947), No. 2, 1947.

Peter and Renate Nahum ran Peter Nahum At The Leicester Galleries in St James’s for twenty-five years and continue to advise on art. Before becoming an art dealer, Peter Nahum was a senior director of Sotheby’s and head of the Victorian and Modern British departments. He is also an author, and was a regular contributor to the Antiques Roadshow on BBC TV for twenty-two years.

Three images on inside of a publication

Axis 8, page 8 & 9, John Piper, “Prehistory from the Air”, AXIS: A Quarterly Review of Contemporary “Abstract” Painting & Sculpture (London: Myfanwy Evans, 1935-1937), No. 8, Early Winter 1937.

The display will run from 23 September 2019–17 January 2020 and there will be a symposium on Tuesday 3 December connected to the themes of the display.

Please find a PDF of the accompanying pamphlet below. To view in a book format please download the PDF. In your PDF reader click on View, then Page Display and then Two Page View.