John Minton
Composition: The Death of James Dean 1957

Artwork details

John Minton 1917–1957
Composition: The Death of James Dean
Date 1957
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1219 x 1829 mm
frame: 1162 x 1875 x 47 mm
Acquisition Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1957
Not on display

Display caption

During the 1940s Minton was regarded as one of the most talented artists of his generation, particularly for his skills as a draughtsman. Between 1948 and 1957 he taught at the Royal College of Art, where he advocated the tradition of figure painting. He had a charismatic but self destructive disposition and possibly identified with James Dean, the Hollywood film star, who was killed in a car accident in 1955, aged twenty-four. By the early 1950s Minton's reputation was in decline. His commitment to figure composition seemed out-dated in the face of American Abstract Expressionism. 'The Death of James Dean' was his last ambitious picture. He was found dead on 22 January 1957. The coroner's verdict was suicide.

September 2004

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