From British daily The Morning Star:
Art on the offensive
(Monday 15 January 2007)
IN PROFILE: James Boswell
JOHN GREEN looks into the life of James Boswell and the Artists International Association that he cofounded.
The recent publication of William Feaver’s biography of James Boswell is not only a belated commemoration of a significant and progressive 20th-century artist.
Unofficial War Artist is also a reminder of the short but shining role played by the Artists International Association, of which Boswell was a founding member.
He, alongside his fellow communist artists James Holland and James Fitton, were known in left circles as the three Jameses.
The book is lavishly illustrated with pages from Boswell’s sketch books – evocative drawings of pre-war Britain, of his time as a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Scotland and Iraq [see also here] and of wartime London, as well as a number of his incisive cartoons.
Boswell and other like-minded artists founded the Artists International Association in 1933.
It was born out of the social and political conflicts of the 1930s and in response to the rise of fascism. At its height, it brought together many of the leading artists of the time.
Among its illustrious members and contributors were people such as Henry Moore [see also here], Peter de Francia, Cliff Rowe, John Piper, Betty Rea, Laura Knight, Paul Hogarth and the art critic Anthony Blunt, who later became Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures.
It worked in confraternity with the Marxist theoretical journal Left Review and collaborated with Writers International, which numbered many leading intellectuals of the time among its supporters – poets such as WH Auden, Randall Swingler, Stephen Spender and prose writers such as George Orwell, Virginia Woolf and Edward Upward [see also here].
Although, contrary to myth, communists made up only a small core of the AI, they did play a very influential role.