Benjamin Creme



1922-39 Born 5 December 1922 in Glasgow. Began painting at 13, inspired by the work of Rembrandt. Left school at 16 in order to paint. Too young to get into Glasgow School of Art, he attended life classes there. At 17, he no longer wished to go to art school as he felt he had already become a 'modern painter', and found the School of Art too academic.
1940 Held a joint exhibition with a friend, Douglas Campbell, at a Trade Union Club. Josef Herman saw and like his work, and brought fellow Polish artist Jankel Adler to see it. Adler in turn brought the painter J.D.Fergusson. Adler encouraged Creme and said his work was like his own, '... in the same vein, the the direction'.
1941 Met David Archer, an Englishman who published poetry in Glasgow at his Parton Press. Archer published Dylan Thomas, George Barker, David Gascoyne and W.S. Graham and many others for the first time. Archer opened an art centre that served for poetry readings, music, exhibitions and as a social mecca for the arts in Glasgow at the time.
1941-43 Became one of the small group of students who studied with Jankel Adler during his stay in Scotland. Creme was helped and inspired by Adler - like 'the Roberts' Colquhoun and MacBryde, he was 'strongly influenced by Adlers personal brand of European modernism with its late dash of Picasso'. Creme was attracted to Adler's 'synthesis of Klee's poetry and wit, and the tough formal qualities of Picasso' (The Eye in the Wind, Edward Gage).
1942 Creme and Robert Frame illustrated W.S. Graham's book of poetry, Cage without Grievance, for Archer's Parton Press. Creme became friendly with W.S.Graham, Dylan Thomas, David Gascoyne and other poets; several of them of them often stayed at Creme's Glasgow flat.
1946 Moved to London with his future first wife, and set up a studio in Battersea. Through Adler, who had moved to London at the end of 1942, Creme became part of a larger circle than in Glasgow; his friends included John Minton, Robert Colquhoun, Robert MacBryde, Prunella Clough and Keith Vaughan.
1947-48 Douglas Campbell, now an actor and director, brought Tyrone Guthrie to Creme's Battersea studio. Guthrie commissioned him to do the sets for his production of Carmen. Joint exhibition at the South Molton Gallery, London. His work had continued up until this point in 'a rather figurative way, influenced largely by Adler and Picasso', but he became impatient with it. He then began to paint landscapes as a conscious attempt to evolve his own language - Adler did not really paint landscapes.
1947-54 Exhibited regularly in group shows at the A.I.A. Gallery, the London Group and various commercial galleries, including Roland, Browse and Delbanco, the Redfern Gallery, Gimpel Fils, the Leger Gallery and Reid & Lefevre. In 1949 one of his paintings was purchased for the Pembroke College Collection, Oxford.
1950 Visited the South of France for the first time. He was inspired by 'the light and colour and the totally abstract shapes which came out of that landscape'. Complete change of palette from his Scotish landscapes, to warm luminous colour, and a move close to abstraction.
1952 One-man exhibition at Gallery Apollinaire, London. Group exhibitions at the Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, and the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh. Continued painting landscapes, some with stylised and abstracted figures.
Continued exhibiting in group shows in London. Stopped painting for a year in 1957 but began again in 1958, his work now become more and more abstract. In 1963, he executed designs for a film production of Macbeth devised by Douglas Campbell and directed by John Barnes.
1985 Works purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum.
1991 Work purchased by The Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow.
1990-2016 Based in London, he continued to pursue the spiritual activities that had occupied much of his life since the late 1950s. He lectured worldwide, wrote books, was chief editor of Share International, and continued to paint and draw.

For more information about the artist's multifaceted life, visit the Benjamin Creme Museum.


Exhibited regularly in group shows at:
The A.I.A Gallery
The London Group
South Molton Gallery
Roland, Browse and Delbanco
The Redfern Gallery
Gimpel Fils
The Leger Gallery
Reid & Lefevre
One-man exhibition, Gallery Apollinaire, London.
Martha Jackson Gallery, New York.
Carnegie International, Pittsburgh.
Exhibited in group shows at:
The A.I.A Gallery
The London Group
1954 The Whitechapel Gallery, London.
1955 Solo exhibition, St George's Gallery, London.
John Berger's Looking Forward exhibition, South London Art Gallery.
64th Spring Exhibition, Bradford City Art Gallery.
Solo exhibition, Bryant M. Hale Gallery, Los Angeles.
British Painting, Arts Council of Great Britain.
Solo exhibition, Dartington New Gallery.
The Invisible in Art, ICA London (10 works).
Benjamin Creme: Paintings from the 1940s and 1950s, solo retrospective curated by Jane England, Themes & Variatioins Gallery, London.
Benjamin Creme: Landscape Paintings 1940-1960, solo exhibition, England & Co, London.
Avant-garde British Printmaking 1914-1960, British Museum.
Benjamin Creme: Paintings & Drawings of the Forties & Fifties, solo exhibition, Cyril Gerber Fine Art, Glasgow, in association with England & Co, London.
Benjamin Creme: Paintings and Drawings 1940-1960, solo exhibition, England & Co, London.

 Illustrated catalogues available - contact the Gallery for details.

Ben Creme in his studio circa 1988, <br> photographed by Jane England. - image

Ben Creme in his studio circa 1988,
photographed by Jane England.