John
Piper

John Piper, a British painter and printmaker, was recognized for his landscapes featuring churches and ruins, also creating works in stained glass and stage design. If you’re looking for original John Piper prints and editions for sale or would like to sell, request a complimentary valuation and browse our network’s most in-demand works.

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Biography

John Piper was a prolific British artist, writer, and designer, known for his innovative use of abstract and semi-abstract forms in both his paintings and his architectural work. Born on December 13, 1903, in Epsom, Surrey, England, his early life was marked by a love of the outdoors, and a love of art that was nurtured by his father, who was a solicitor and amateur artist. Piper was educated at Epsom College and later studied at Richmond School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London.

In the 1930s, Piper became associated with the British abstract art movement, working alongside artists such as Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. Piper's early works were heavily influenced by these artists, displaying an emphasis on geometric shapes and simple, almost monochromatic colour palettes. However, Piper soon began to develop his own distinct style, combining elements of abstraction with more traditional landscape painting.

During World War II, Piper was appointed as an official war artist. He documented the impact of the war on the British landscape, including the bombing of Coventry Cathedral in 1940. His emotive paintings of ruined buildings, such as the famous The Baptistry Window, Coventry Cathedral, captured the destruction and devastation caused by the war but also the resilience of the British spirit.

John Piper passed away on June 28, 1992, in Fawley Bottom, England, but his artistic legacy lives on. His innovative approach to blending abstract and figurative elements in his work has influenced generations of artists, and his architectural designs continue to be celebrated as modern masterpieces. Today, Piper's art can be found in numerous public and private collections worldwide, and his contributions to the world of art and design will forever be remembered.

Abstract painting with vibrant reds, blues, greys, whites, and browns arranged in vertical geometric formations spanning the canvas from left to right. Overlapping white lines in the center of the canvas create an additional optical illusion.

Image © Christie’s / Painting © John Piper 1935

1. £482,500 for John Piper's Painting

The 1930s marked a crucial period in Piper's artistic evolution, where his matured style emerged. During this defining era, he embraced a more abstract approach to distill the essence of his art through meticulous material exploration. Painting (1935) epitomises Piper's unwavering commitment to this vision. Utilising a constructivist technique, he carved out specific sections of the canvas and applied a diverse palette of bold colours, resulting in a textured panel interplaying with fractured geometric forms. This painting serves as a quintessential representation of British Abstraction. Notably, Painting has an impressive exhibition history, including a showing at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in 2003, and it holds significance as it set a record auction price of £482,500 (including fees) at Christie's in November 2013.

Abstracted predominantly white canvas with grey, purple, blue, and brown geometric forms. A focal point of black is centered, with pops of red dispersed in abstracted geometric shapes.

Image © Christie's / Forms On A White Ground 1935

2. £371,250 for John Piper's Forms On A White Ground


Forms On A White Ground (1935) also employs a cut canvas technique, featuring vividly coloured hues meticulously applied to a white and grey painted panel. The composition intricately weaves together geometric shapes, exploring intersecting geometries. Piper strategically introduces a black rectangle with an appended semicircle at the centre of the piece, creating a focal point that enhances visual impact and spatial depth. This deliberate placement of the black element directs the viewer's gaze towards specific geometric configurations, heightening the artwork's dynamism and abstract complexity. Notably, this artwork has a prestigious provenance, originally owned by Sir Clifford Norton, a World War I officer and the British ambassador in Athens. Norton acquired it from Piper in 1966 and consigned it to Christie's, where it initially achieved a hammer price of £24,997. In June 2020, the painting reappeared at auction, realising £371,250 (including fees), highlighting the increasing value of Piper's artworks and the desirability of his abstract creations.

Abstract canvas with blues, black, grey, purple, and white, highlighted by pops of orange and yellow. The composition consists of vertical formations from right to left, divided into horizontal geometric shapes by overlapping black lines.

Image © Christie’s/ Abstract Painting © John Piper 1935

3. £362,500 for John Piper's Abstract Painting

In Abstract Painting (1935), Piper skilfully manipulates geometric shapes, partially cutting the canvas and orchestrating a harmonious blend of colours. The artwork showcases a dynamic equilibrium achieved through various black geometries, strict verticals, rounded semicircles, and delicate organic forms. Piper's mastery of form, line, and colour creates an undulating effect within the work, painting his unique language on canvas. This celebrated piece sold for £362,500 (fees included) at Christie's in November 2015.

Abstract painting featuring intersecting beige, white, black, blue, and green vertical lines at various angles, bordered by a blue perimeter.

Image © Sotheby's / Forms On Dark Blue 1936