A new exhibition at Southwark's Cuming Museum comprises the largest exhibition of work by Austin Osman Spare since his death in 1956.
Artists don't come much more Londony than Spare. Born in 1886 in Smithfield, the son of a City of London policeman, Spare became a talented draughtsman, often drawing on the people of the streets of Borough for inspiration. Having served as a medical orderly in the First World War, he was badly injured in the Second when his studio took a direct hit. He thereafter spent later years living and working in an impoverished tenement block. He peppered this troubled life with dabblings in the occult, liaising on several occasions with Aleister Crowley.
Needless to say, this dark biography stimulated some very unusual art work. Spare's drawings, while often rooted in the humdrum and familiar, contain grotesque, surreal or magical elements. The current exhibition gives the visitor a chance to explore these disturbing images up close, and learn more about this fascinating and under-appreciated 20th Century artist.
Austin Osman Spare: Fallen Visionary runs at the Cuming Museum until 14 November 2010. Entrance is free.