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Click here for suggestions about how to find books on the net and in the world. That rare book -how much is it worth? Just check the excellent ViaLibri It should inverno there. We have started another blog, archiving things found in our warehouse, it’s called Jot Spare Austin Osman Spare. Co-operative Printing Society, A very large book in printed brown paper wraps; The vellum copies were supposed to have a colour print in them but no copies ever have it and presumably it wasn’t inserted.

It was the Bohemia bookshop on St. Leonards, mostly military books, run by a great character named Frank Letchford.

He impressed me by knowing a lot about rock music, unusual in those inverno among septuagenarians. He had known Spare and also Henry Miller. In fact I bought a Spare portrait of Miller which thereafter seemed to spend its infero in auction. It was done from a photo. Soon after with art connoisseur and boulevardier James Birch I put on a show of Spares’ work at his austih in Fulham. At the time James had Nico Velvet Underground staying in his spare bedroom.

Every one seemed to be dressed in black. Infegno wrote the intro in the catalogue and it went like this: Certainly his life divides neatly into two periods. By the age of fourteen, possibly inspired by Beardsley and Ricketts, he was producing work of a high technical order.

A fellow student at the Royal College described Spare as ‘a fair creature resembling a Greek god, curly-haired, proud, self-willed, practising the black arts and taking drugs.


In the s Spare was at the height of his powers, intensely active, producing books, magazines, objects and becoming briefly the darling of Mayfair. He appears to have reacted against the false values of his patrons and admirers in the Smart Set.

Austin Osman Spare – Earth Inferno-1905

His book ‘The Anathema of Zos: A Sermon to the Hypocrites’- a work of ‘automatic writing’ excoriates austn self- pity and smugness of the mids. He was seen as a degenerate and crank; little bothered by this Spare headed back to South London, seldom to be seen again in the purlieus of Bond Street.

He found peace and obscurity among the lower classes- the whores and sneak-thieves, many of whom he used as models. His portraits from this latter period of his life show that he was still primarily a visionary.

Earth Inferno by Austin Osman Spare

Even in straightforward works like his portrait of a Southwark tramp, austni shines out beyond asutin technique. Spare said that aushin portrait of a person should be more like them than they are themselves Often surrounded by models young and old, he would receive critics and buyers, showing them his latest pictures in the living room, bedroom and kitchen.

Spare liked to meet the people who wanted to buy his work, rather spard have his pictures sold in a gallery in an impersonal way. Thus he carried on for years selling works for trifling sums, sometimes reduced to decorating radio sets and even mending them.

Spare wrote that he had turned his back on fame, money and comfort ‘ It was not until in a cramped basement in Briton that he began to paint again.

His exhibition in Westbourne Grove attracted many people and sold well. The paintings of this last period were some of his finest and most innovative. By the time he died in he had created an impressive range of work showing throughout a singularity of vision. The original idea oaman the automatic drawings of’ living beyond thought in courageous originality’ never left him. Comparisons with Durer, Goya, Rops and Hokusai although well meant and occasionally illuminating miss the point.


Spare was unique- nothing but himself. The private view was well attended and the cheap wine flowed. At one point a fight broke out but was fairly quickly quelled, a few girls screamed, voices were raised. Ajstin of the paintings had been donated by an old cove who had known Spare and were for sale. The son, who felt they should be his eventually, objected quite forcefully and attacked myself and James.

In dealing with older owners, even with books, there are often problematic offspring in the background but it seldom leads to fisticuffs. However these day unless the books are demonstrably valuable, they are not coveted -in fact they are a nuisance.

They can turn up in truly lousy condition and being large and thin they can get bent. Although Spare now has a large fan base they are not isman the ‘loadsamoney’ crowd.

EARTH INFERNO by Austin Osman Spare on artnet

Many good facsimiles have been produced. The excellent publishing company Fulgur has reproduced many of Spare’s works and some are now out of print and eagerly sought after. Ebay sees much trading in Spare drawings ,books and art. He is not Lucian Freud when it comes to value but you get a lot more for your money. Above is a superior later work in his ‘sidereal’ style.

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