The exhibition consists of drawings, paintings and prints right from the beginning to the end of Piper’s career.
The earliest work, Sketch for a Construction 1933 has not been seen in public since it was exhibited in the Tate in 1984 exhibition curated by Sir Alan Bowness. This work has resided in a private collection since being purchased from the Marlborough Gallery and dates to the transformative year that Piper travelled to Paris and encountered abstraction, the movement that was to inform all of his work for the next few years of that decade.
Another highlight of the exhibition is the exquisite painting 'Venice Beach' for 'Death in Venice’. John Piper's sets for Benjamin Britten's last opera Death in Venice represent the summit of his career as a designer for the theatre and of his long association with the English Opera Group of which he had been a co-founder. First performed at Aldeburgh in June 1973, the composer was by then too unwell to conduct the piece himself. The Piper family's association with the work is a strong one, with the artist's wife Myfanwy writing the opera's English libretto. For her too it was a culmination of a series of highly successful collaborations with Britten as his favoured librettist.
We are also delighted to include several prints by Piper, a medium with which he has been long associated with, especially for his work documenting Britain for the Shell guides. The Stones and Bones portfolio was printed in 1978 by Kelpra Editions and we are delighted to include these work sin the current exhibition. These prints have exquisite provenance, coming from the collection of the late Phil May, former front man of the pop band The Pretty Things that rose to fame in the 1960s.