Banting, John (1902-72)

The son of a commercial bookbinder and a teacher, John Banting was born in Chelsea, London on 12 May 1902. He made drawings and poems under the influence of Vorticism at the age of 18. While working as a clerk, he attended life classes at Vincent Square art school under Bernard Meninsky (1921) and the free academies in Paris, including the Grande Chaumière and Colarossi's (1922). By 1925 he had established a studio in Fitzroy Street and was associated with the Bloomsbury group. He made designs for Leonard and Virginia Woolf's Hogarth Press and for the ballets Pomona (1929) and Prometheus (1936) at Sadler's Wells. He was notable for shaving his head (a response to premature hair-loss), and for his relationships with Nancy Cunard and the poet Brian Howard. Although he produced few paintings in his last years, Banting regularly contributed earlier works to Surrealist exhibitions. He died at Hastings on 30 January 1972 between solo exhibitions in London at the Hamet Gallery (Dec. 1971) and Edward Harvane Gallery (March-April 1972).

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