Jazenne, Charente, a screenprint by John Piper, focuses on the striking façade of the Romanesque church at Jazennes in the Charente-Maritime region of southwest France. Architectural subjects, especially ecclesiastical designs from France, Italy and England, commonly featured in Piper’s prints and paintings. His images are often elemental, devoid of people and focused on architecture. In this print, the church is lit dramatically from the left side of the composition, creating deep shadows along the right side of the façade. The building takes on an imposing character, as striking as a theatrical backdrop. From the mid 1950s, Piper travelled frequently in France and took numerous trips to Charente, Toulouse, Moissac and the Dordogne.
Piper employed many different printmaking techniques to highlight his love of architecture and the joy he derived from working in the medium. He used various different types of marks to create texture: from quick washes and scribbled lines, to dense inked areas where highlights are scraped away. He is widely acknowledged for his depictions of landscapes and buildings in Italy, France, England and Wales. ‘I am a painter and draughtsman of landscape and architecture’, he once declared when asked to describe his subject matter. However, he was not simply a topographical artist, he also used his artistic vision ‘... to express a personal love of country and architecture and the humanity that inhabits them’.
John Piper was born in Epsom, Surrey and worked in his father’s solicitors’ firm until 1926. He later studied art in Richmond and London. Meeting Braque in Paris inspired him to make abstract art and to exhibit with the Seven and Five Society (1934–35). In 1935 Piper collaborated with Myfanwy Evans (later, his wife) on the pioneering review, ‘Axis’. He abandoned abstract art for Neo-Romanticism and during the Second World War, as an Official War Artist, he recorded bomb-devastated buildings of England’s disappearing architectural heritage. A versatile artist, Piper made book illustrations, theatre designs, ceramics, stained-glass and textiles. Retrospectives were held at the Museum of Modern Art (Oxford, 1973) and the Tate (1983–84).
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.