Accidental Alchemy

Neil Wells

The significant influence of the periodical Signature on fine art has long been overlooked. While few people nowadays will have read it, no journal has greater claim to have stimulated the taste that became British neo-romanticism in the mid-20th century. Oliver Simon, its editor, publisher, patron and printer was something of an enigma. Although shy, he somehow knew ‘everyone’ in the London literary and arts scene during the 1930s and 40s. So outwardly conservative to be dubbed ‘the archbishop’ by Ben Nicholson, Oliver elicited adventurous art from his artist contributors to Signature. The Signature artists were fellow travellers on a journey: young artists working in commercial art to pay the bills. Having mastered graphic techniques for applied purposes they then began to apply what they learned to their own artwork. Then they went off to War… Those interested in the work of Paul Nash, John Piper, Graham Sutherland, Edward Bawden, and Barnett Freedman will enjoy the story of the influence and fellowship of Oliver Simon, Signature, and the Curwen Press, on their art. 208pp.




  • ISBN: 9781914414343
  • Binding: Hardback