Dr Ben Thomas, Reader in the History of Art, has just published a new book on Humphrey Ocean RA for the Royal Academy of Arts.
Over five decades, the painter Humphrey Ocean’s work has filtered into our national culture. This includes his series of portraits entitled ‘A Handbook of Modern Life’ displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in 2013; his portrait of Christopher Le Brun, President of the Royal Academy of Arts; and the cover of Sir Paul McCartney’s 2007 album Memory Almost Full, which featured one of the Chair series.
Ocean’s practice encompasses painting, printmaking, sculpture, book-making and drawing. Of the last, he has said: ‘Paper is lovely, immediate and personal. I draw as an end in itself.’
In 2019, his exhibition ‘Birds, Cars and Chairs’ is on display at the Royal Academy of Arts. Of these subjects, he says: ‘Birds, cars and chairs are, in that order, ancient, modern and intimate. Without them life would be a lot less bearable.’ These works are reproduced alongside others in the book to provide a fascinating overview of Ocean’s career.
For the volume, Ben contributes an essay that sets out to discover exactly what it is that makes Ocean’s art so appealing and universal.
The book was launched at the Royal Academy of Arts on the 27 November 2019.
For more details, please see the publisher’s page.