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The Unsophisticated Arts
by Barbara Jones

The Unsophisticated Arts, a great survey of the art of the everyday, was first published in 1951, the same year that Barbara Jones curated the ‘Black Eyes and Lemonade’ exhibition for the Festival of Britain. These two events were definitive in the history of popular art, creating a vibrant snapshot of culture in postwar Britain which has influenced generations of artists and designers ever since.

Author: Barbara Jones

Published: April 2014

SKU: 9781908213129 Categories: , Tags: , ,

£50.00

In stock (can be backordered)

‘I have no doubt that discovering Barbara Jones was one of the more important things that happened to me’ PETER BLAKE

‘Jones’s daring, humorous and too little celebrated exploration of the modern material world’ THE LRB

‘beautifully republished’ SPECTATOR

Unsophisticated art is the art of everyday life. During the 1940s Barbara Jones set about documenting this everyday art throughout  Britain, visiting fairgrounds, tattoo parlours, taxidermists, houseboats, high street shops, seaside piers and amusement arcades. She befriended people who lived afloat on redundant canalways and studied the way they decorated their boats. She spent day after day in workshops where roundabouts were made, and watched in awe as these labyrinths of wire and painted wood were slotted into place at the fair. Her journey was an epic undertaking and her achievement remains groundbreaking.

The Unsophisticated Arts was first published in 1951, the same year that Barbara Jones curated the ‘Black Eyes and Lemonade’ exhibition for the Festival of Britain. These two events were definitive in the history of popular art, creating a vibrant snapshot of culture in postwar Britain which has influenced generations of artists and designers ever since. Barbara Jones’s unique vision continues to inspire today, unlocking a way of seeing the world which celebrates the objects of everyday life and encourages us to find beauty in unexpected places.

Little Toller is delighted to include previously unpublished ephemera and art from Barbara Jones’s studio in our new edition, including watercolour, ink and pencil studies from her sketchbooks which reveal her lifelong fascination with vernacular art.

BARBARA JONES

Foreword by Peter Blake RA

Introduction by Simon Costin

246 x 186mm sewn hardback printed on Munken papers
200 pages with over 170 illustrations by Barbara Jones
978-1-908213-12-9

Additional information

Weight810 g
Dimensions25 x 200 x 250 mm

Reviews

  1. The writer James Russell, known for his excellent work with the Mainstone Press on Eric Ravilious, has posted a wonderful article about Barbara Jones and our new edition of The Unsophisticated Arts.

    ‘Her books show a similarly eclectic spirit,’ James writes. ‘The Unsophisticated Arts combines chapters on tattooing and the seaside, amusement arcades and taxidermy, each illustrated with a mixture of photographs, line drawings and paintings. It is disorderly, intensely personal and obsessive, but at the same time the book  hangs together perfectly . . . I suspect that many artists besides Peter Blake owe a debt to Barbara Jones; she looked about her with keen eyes, found subjects no-one had bothered with before and took her discoveries seriously – but never too seriously.’

    Read the full article here.

  2. ‘Peter Blake, 19 and just out of art school, also visited the Whitechapel and took note. Advertising, tattoos, commercial lettering, a lot of Black Eyes and Lemonade passed rapidly from popular art into pop art by way of Jones’s daring, humorous and too little celebrated exploration of the modern material world.’

    Read Rosemary Hill’s excellent piece about Barbara Jones in the London Review of Books.

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