John Wells 1907-2000
Born in London, John Wells studied medicine at University College Hospital from 1925 – 30 taking evening classes at St Martins School of Art during the same period. In 1928 he met Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood in Cornwall and then later, whilst working as a doctor on the Scilly Isles during the war, he spent time in Cornwall with Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo all of whom were close friends. It was through these visits to Cornwall and correspondence with these artists that John Wells came to Constructivism. The purity and balance of his early constructivist early painting from this period is often commented on. Through his involvement in the St Ives community he founded the Crypt Group, St Ives and later in 1949 he became a founding member of the Penwith Society.
Throughout his career Wells has continued to reference pre-war modernism and artists such as Paul Klee, exploring the formal language of abstraction. Solo exhibitions include Waddington Galleries, London in 1960 and 1965 and the Tate St Ives retrospective The Fragile Cell in 1998. He was also a part of a number of significant group exhibition including the British Abstract Art exhibition of 1951 held at Gimpel Fils, London and the 1972 – 73 Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition Decade ’ 40 , which was a touring Arts Council exhibition.
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