Nicolete Gray

Nicolete Gray (sometimes Nicolette Gray) (20 July 1911–8 June 1997)[1] was an English art scholar and exponent and scholar of calligraphy. She was the youngest daughter of the poet, dramatist and art scholar Laurence Binyon and his wife, writer, editor and translator Cicely Margaret Pryor Powell.[3] In 1933, she married Basil Gray (1904–1989), with whom she had five children, two sons and three daughters.[1]

She attended St Paul's School where she won a scholarship to Lady Margaret Hall at Oxford to read History in 1929.[1]

In 1936 she curated the touring exhibition Abstract and Concrete, the first showing of abstract art, and of the work of Mondrian, in England.[4]

Her books include Nineteenth century ornamented types and title pages (Faber & Faber 1938; 2nd edition, as Nineteenth century ornamented typefaces, 1976) and A History of Lettering (Phaidon, 1976).

She died in London on 8 June 1997.[1]

Nicolete Gray
Nicolete Binyon

20 July 1911
Died8 June 1997 (aged 85)
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
OccupationArt scholar, historian
Spouse(s)Basil Gray
Parent(s)Cicely Margaret Powell
RelativesHelen Binyon (sister)
Margaret Binyon (sister)
T. J. Binyon (cousin)[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Barker, Nicolas (13 June 1997). "Obituary: Nicolete Gray". The Independent.
  2. ^ "T. J. Binyon". The Independent. 13 October 2004.
  3. ^ Spalding, Frances (2004). "Gray (née Binyon), Nicolete Mary". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/66078. Retrieved 2009-01-16. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  4. ^ Green, Christopher; Wright, Barnaby, eds. (2012). Mondrian / Nicholson in Parallel. London: Courtauld Gallery. ISBN 978-1-90737232-2.
1936 in art

The year 1936 in art involved some significant events and new works.

Abstract art

Abstract art uses a visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an attempt to reproduce an illusion of visible reality. The arts of cultures other than the European had become accessible and showed alternative ways of describing visual experience to the artist. By the end of the 19th century many artists felt a need to create a new kind of art which would encompass the fundamental changes taking place in technology, science and philosophy. The sources from which individual artists drew their theoretical arguments were diverse, and reflected the social and intellectual preoccupations in all areas of Western culture at that time.Abstract art, non-figurative art, non-objective art, and non-representational art are loosely related terms. They are similar, but perhaps not of identical meaning.

Abstraction indicates a departure from reality in depiction of imagery in art. This departure from accurate representation can be slight, partial, or complete. Abstraction exists along a continuum. Even art that aims for verisimilitude of the highest degree can be said to be abstract, at least theoretically, since perfect representation is likely to be exceedingly elusive. Artwork which takes liberties, altering for instance color and form in ways that are conspicuous, can be said to be partially abstract. Total abstraction bears no trace of any reference to anything recognizable. In geometric abstraction, for instance, one is unlikely to find references to naturalistic entities. Figurative art and total abstraction are almost mutually exclusive. But figurative and representational (or realistic) art often contains partial abstraction.

Both geometric abstraction and lyrical abstraction are often totally abstract. Among the very numerous art movements that embody partial abstraction would be for instance fauvism in which color is conspicuously and deliberately altered vis-a-vis reality, and cubism, which alters the forms of the real life entities depicted.

Basil Gray

Basil Gray, (1904 – 1989), was an art historian, Islamicist, author, and the head of the British Museum's Oriental department.

Camilla Gray

Camilla M. Gray, also known as Camilla Gray-Prokofieva, (1936 – 17 December 1971) was a British art historian whose book, The Great Experiment: Russian Art 1863–1922 (1962), broke new ground in explaining Russian avante-garde art of the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century outside Russia at a time when the subject was largely unknown outside the country. It was later revised and expanded by Marian Burleigh-Motley and published in a new edition by Thames & Hudson in 1986.

She wrote catalogues and organised exhibitions in London on Kasimir Malevich, Mikhail Larionov, and Natalia Goncharova, and staged an exhibition of Soviet revolutionary art in Britain in 1971 despite misunderstandings at home and official Soviet antipathy to abstract art.

In 1969, she married Oleg Prokofiev in Russia, son of the composer Sergei Prokofiev, after the couple had been kept apart by Soviet unhappiness over Gray's views on Russian art. She died in Russia from hepatitis in 1971 while pregnant with the couple's second child.

Clarendon (typeface)

Clarendon is the name of a slab-serif typeface that was released in 1845 by Thorowgood and Co. (or Thorowgood and Besley) of London, a letter foundry often known as the Fann Street Foundry. The original Clarendon design is credited to Robert Besley, a partner in the foundry, and was originally engraved by punchcutter Benjamin Fox, who may also have contributed to its design. Many copies, adaptations and revivals have been released, becoming almost an entire genre of type design.

Clarendons have a bold, solid structure, similar in letter structure to the "modern" serif typefaces popular in the nineteenth century for body text (for instance showing an 'R' with a curled leg and ball terminals on the 'a' and 'c'), but bolder and with less contrast in stroke weight. Clarendon designs generally have a structure with bracketed serifs, which become larger as they reach the main stroke of the letter. Mitja Miklavčič describes the basic features of Clarendon designs (and ones labelled Ionic, often quite similar) as: "plain and sturdy nature, strong bracketed serifs, vertical stress, large x-height, short ascenders and descenders, typeface with little contrast" and supports Nicolete Gray's description of them as a "cross between the roman [general-purpose body text type] and slab serif model". Gray notes that nineteenth-century Ionic and Clarendon faces have "a definite differentiation between the thick and the thin strokes", unlike some other more geometric slab-serifs.Slab serif typefaces had become popular in British lettering and printing over the previous thirty-five years before the original Clarendon’s release, both for display use on signage, architectural lettering and posters and for emphasis within a block of text. The Clarendon design was immediately very popular and was rapidly copied by other foundries to become in effect an entire genre of type design. Clarendon fonts proved extremely popular in many parts of the world, in particular for display applications such as posters printed with wood type. They are therefore commonly associated with wanted posters and the American Old West. A revival of interest took place in the post-war period: Jonathan Hoefler comments that "some of the best and most significant Clarendons are twentieth century designs" and highlights the Haas and Stempel foundry's bold, wide Clarendon display face as "a classic that for many people is the epitome of the Clarendon style."

Didone (typography)

Didone () is a genre of serif typeface that emerged in the late 18th century and was the standard style of general-purpose printing during the nineteenth. It is characterized by:

Narrow and unbracketed (hairline) serifs. (The serifs have a nearly constant width along their length.)

Vertical orientation of weight axes. (The vertical strokes of letters are thick.)

Strong contrast between thick and thin lines. (Horizontal parts of letters are thin in comparison to the vertical parts.)

Some stroke endings show ball terminals. (Many lines end in a teardrop or circle shape, rather than a plain wedge-shaped serif.)

An unornamented, "modern" appearance.The term "Didone" is a 1954 coinage, part of the Vox-ATypI classification system. It amalgamates the surnames of the famous typefounders Firmin Didot and Giambattista Bodoni, whose efforts defined the style around the beginning of the nineteenth century. The category was known in the period of its greatest popularity as modern or modern face, in contrast to "old-style" or "old-face" designs, which date to the Renaissance period.

Fernand Baudin

Fernand Baudin (1918, Bachte-Maria-Leerne - 2005, Grez-Doiceau) was a Belgian book designer, author, typographer, and teacher. Baudin was active in the field of graphic design in many ways and described himself as a “typographiste”. He was part of national and international typographic organisations, like ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale), the Graphica-Belgica Prize, and Rencontres internationales de Lure.

Throughout his career he focused on the importance of (hand)writing in graphic design. He wrote and designed two books: How Typography Works (And why it is important) and L'Effet Gutenberg, that summarize his ideas on writing and designing.

After his death, because of his influence in the history of design, the Prize for the Most Beautiful Books in Brussels and Wallonia was named after him, called the Fernand Baudin Prize.

Festival of Britain

The Festival of Britain was a national exhibition and fair that reached millions of visitors throughout the United Kingdom in the summer of 1951. Historian Kenneth O. Morgan says the Festival was a "triumphant success" as people:

flocked to the South Bank site, to wander around the Dome of Discovery, gaze at the Skylon, and generally enjoy a festival of national celebration. Up and down the land, lesser festivals enlisted much civic and voluntary enthusiasm. A people curbed by years of total war and half-crushed by austerity and gloom, showed that it had not lost the capacity for enjoying itself....Above all, the Festival made a spectacular setting as a showpiece for the inventiveness and genius of British scientists and technologists.

Labour cabinet member Herbert Morrison was the prime mover; in 1947 he started with the original plan to celebrate the centennial of the Great Exhibition of 1851. However it was not to be another World Fair, for international themes were absent, as was the British Commonwealth. Instead the 1951 festival focused entirely on Britain and its achievements; it was funded chiefly by the government, with a budget of £12 million. The Labour government was losing support and so the implicit goal of the festival was to give the people a feeling of successful recovery from the war's devastation , as well as promoting British science, technology, industrial design, architecture and the arts.

The Festival's centrepiece was in London on the South Bank of the Thames. There were events in Poplar (Architecture), Battersea (The Festival Pleasure Gardens), South Kensington (Science) and Glasgow (Industrial Power). Festival celebrations took place in Cardiff, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, Perth, Bournemouth, York, Aldeburgh, Inverness, Cheltenham, Oxford, Norwich, Canterbury and elsewhere and there were touring exhibitions by land and sea.

The Festival became a "beacon for change" that proved immensely popular with thousands of elite visitors and millions of popular ones. It helped reshape British arts, crafts, designs and sports for a generation. Journalist Harry Hopkins highlights the widespread impact of the "Festival style". They called it "Contemporary". It was:

clean, bright and new.... It caught hold quickly and spread first across London and then across England....In an island hitherto largely given up to gravy browns and dull greens, "Contemporary" boldly espoused strong primary colors.

Helen Sutherland

Helen Christian Sutherland (24 February 1881 – 29 April 1965), married name Helen Denman, was an English art patron and collector.

Laurence Binyon

Robert Laurence Binyon, CH (10 August 1869 – 10 March 1943) was an English poet, dramatist and art scholar. His most famous work, "For the Fallen", is well known for being used in Remembrance Sunday services.

Long Wittenham

Long Wittenham is a village and small civil parish about 3 miles (5 km) north of Didcot, and 3.5 miles (5.6 km) southeast of Abingdon. It was part of Berkshire until the 1974 boundary changes transferred it from Berkshire to Oxfordshire, and from the former Wallingford Rural District to the new district of South Oxfordshire.

Ray Nash

Ray Nash (died May 21, 1982) was a notable American graphic-arts historian and expert on calligraphy and the history of printing.

Reverse-contrast typefaces

A reverse-contrast letterform is a typeface or custom lettering in which the stress is reversed from the norm: instead of the vertical lines being the same width or thicker than horizontals, which is normal in Latin-alphabet writing and especially printing, the horizontal lines are the thickest. The result is a dramatic effect, in which the letters seem to have been printed the wrong way round. Originally invented in the early nineteenth century as attention-grabbing novelty display designs, modern font designer Peter Biľak, who has created a design in the genre, has described them as "a dirty trick to create freakish letterforms that stood out."Reverse-contrast letters are rarely used for body text, being more used in display applications such as headings and posters, in which the unusual structure may be particularly eye-catching. They were particularly common in the nineteenth century, and have been revived occasionally since then. They could be considered as slab serif designs because of the thickened serifs, and are often characterised as part of that genre.

The reverse-contrast effect has been extended to other kinds of typeface, such as sans-serif designs and designs more suitable for extended text passages. The design style, also known as "reverse-stroke" or "horizontal-stress", has no connection to reverse-contrast printing, where light text is printed on a black background.


In typography, a serif () is a small line or stroke regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter or symbol within a particular font or family of fonts. A typeface or "font family" making use of serifs is called a serif typeface (or serifed typeface), and a typeface that does not include them is a sans-serif one. Some typography sources refer to sans-serif typefaces as "grotesque" (in German, "grotesk") or "Gothic", and serif typefaces as "roman".

T. J. Binyon

Timothy John Binyon (18 February 1936 – 7 October 2004) was an English scholar and crime writer. He was a great-nephew of the poet Laurence Binyon.

Timeline of Oxford

The following is a timeline of the history of the city, University and colleges of Oxford, England.

Vincent Figgins

Vincent Figgins (1766-1844), of Peckham, England, was a British type-founder. After an apprenticeship with Joseph Jackson, he established his own type foundry in 1792. His company was extremely successful and, with its range of modern serif faces and display typefaces, helped to define the styles of British printing in the nineteenth century.

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