Paul Nash

The Elements

David Fraser Jenkins

    ISBN: 978 1 85759 619 9

    Size: 280 x 240 mm / 9.5 x 11 in.

    Binding: Paperback

    Pages: 168

    In association with:

    Date published: January, 2010

    UK £25 /US $39.95


  • Long-overdue analysis of the themes and visual symbolism in the work of one of the great pioneers of British Modernism
  • Text by leading art historian and expert on modern British artists


This book examines the career of Paul Nash, official war artist and one of the great pioneers of British Modernism. David Fraser Jenkins interprets the artist’s work according to theme and visual symbolism, bringing together paintings from different periods, and considering how the artist took elements from the visual world and recreated them within the terms of modern art. Here, the richly ambiguous word ‘element’ refers not just to the four traditional elements but, more loosely, it denotes anything natural and fundamental that seems basic to nature. Throughout his career, Nash treated various ‘elements’ as visual symbols and thus developed recurring themes such as conflict, refuge and harmony. David Fraser Jenkins explores these themes in the book’s principal essay. There are additional essays by David Boyd Haycock on the influence of Thomas Browne and by Simon Grant on Nash’s legacy in the contemporary art world. Paul Nash: The Elements accompanied an exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, curated by the author. It includes 57 paintings and watercolours, each with an accompanying text. There are also 15 of Nash’s own photographs, and 27 comparative illustrations.

Author information

David Fraser Jenkins is a leading art historian, formerly senior curator at Tate Britain, who has published widely on modern British artists including John Piper, Barbara Hepworth, Gwen John and Augustus John.