Paul Nash was born in London. After failing the entrance exam for for the Navy, he studied at Chelsea Polytechnic and the Slade School of Fine Art, both in London. He was appointed an Official War Artist in World War I. Between the wars he designed textiles, stage scenery, costumes and ceramics, as well as painting in oil and watercolour. All of his work shows a characteristically analytical approach, reducing a subject to its essential form, but remaining conscious of the intangible mystery in all matter. His touch is typically gentle and delicate - none of his forms, however abstract, are made to look entirely mechanical or geometric.
During the 1930s Nash was fascinated by surrealism and by the power of objects to evoke associations alien to their basic forms, and his own work reveals these preoccupations. Objects which held special meaning for him - the sun and moon, the sunflower and fungus, early burial mounds, rocks, the sea and clumps of trees - were drawn together in landscapes empty of people, but which still suggest their presence. In 1933 he established Unit One, a group of artists that included Henry Moore, Edward Wadsworth, Edward Burra and Ben Nicholson, and whose aims were to promote modern art through a blend of abstraction and surrealism. During World War II he was again appointed an Official War Artist, producing memorable images of the war-torn countryside and the dogfights above, which in turn are sinister and lyrical, surreal yet rooted in the traditions of English landscape painting.
Paul Nash, Outline: An Autobiography , Faber & Faber, London 1951
Andrew Causey, Paul Nash, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1980
Paul Nash Places, Arts Council of Great Britain 1989
Paul Nash Aerial Creatures, Imperial War Museum 1996