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Private view: Paul Nash

A new exhibition reveals a Paul Nash who, while only sometimes brilliant, possessed a modernist vision ahead of his time

By Ben Lewis   April 2010

We are Making a New World (1918): eerily contemporary

Full of optimism, I enter an exhibition of a British modernist. I imagine a new era dawning, which overturns the consensus of generations of international art historians that British 20th-century art has always been third-rate, following far behind France, Germany and America, and possibly not much ahead of Argentina or Sweden. Francis Bacon has belatedly become recognised as an internationally important painter—who’s next? Perhaps the British surrealist landscape painter Paul Nash (1889-1946), the subject of a comprehensive new exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

I am greeted by Nash’s most famous…

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