John Craxton – 50 years in 50 books

First published in 2021, John Craxton: A Life of Gifts has since been re-released in paperback. In A Life of Gifts, Ian Collins takes us through the life and career of the rebellious 20th-century British artist John Craxton, including an in-depth exploration of the storied, complicated friendship between Craxton and Lucian Freud, drawing on letters and memories that Craxton wanted to remain private until after his death..

As part of the 50 Years in 50 Books series for our 50th Anniversary, we’re sharing an extract from the book in which the author charts the beginnings of the friendship between Craxton and Freud, which ultimately turned into rivalry.


Read the extract from John Craxton: A Life of Gifts


About the Author:

Ian Collins is an independent art writer and curator.


About the book:

John Craxton: A Life of Gifts
Ian Collins

Born into a large, musical and bohemian family in London, the British artist John Craxton (1922–2009) has been described as a Neo-Romantic, but he called himself a ‘kind of Arcadian’. His early art was influenced by Blake, Palmer, Miró and Picasso. After achieving a dream of moving to Greece, his work evolved as a personal response to Byzantine mosaics, El Greco and the art of Greek life.

Find out more


Further reading:

Yale University Press is celebrating 50 years of publishing in London. To celebrate, we have selected 50 important Yale London books from our past, present and future to tell the story of our publishing through a series of articles and extracts.

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