Ardizzone at peace and in conflict
Edward Ardizzone’s experiences as a war artist gave an extra depth and toughness to his work
Like a number of his contemporaries, Edward Ardizzone (1900-79) aimed for a deliberate anachronism of style. Yet more than most of them, he made old methods work effectively to depict the modern world. For many British artists of his generation, there was bound to be a crisis brought on by the challenge of Modernism. At first sight, Ardizzone seems exempt from this, and did not appear to lose confidence or look for new directions, as did Edward Bawden and John Piper. Yet beneath the surface there was undoubtedly self-questioning and anxiety.
Cover and spine for The Blackbird in the Lilac: Poems for Children, Oxford University Press, 1952. Ardizzone numbered books by James Reeves, a ‘dear friend’ among his most pleasurable commissions.
Top: West Country Manoeuvres: We Are Held Up by Ferocious Home Guards, 1941. Ink and wash on paper, courtesy Imperial War Museum.
Alan Powers is the author of Edward Ardizzone, Artist and Illustrator, published by Lund Humphries, 2016
Read the full version in Eye no. 93 vol. 24, 2017
Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. You can see what Eye 93 looks like at Eye before You Buy on Vimeo.