Collage, and the melding of visual art with textual content has long been a hallmark of artist Tom Phillips’ work. A noted portrait painter etcher, creator of installation art, stage design and sculpture, Phillips is perhaps most famous for A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel, first published in 1970, which has come to be seen as a defining product of post-modernism, linking medieval illumination, experimental poetry, and non-linear narrative with the procedures of modern art. Novelist William Gass, writing in Art Forum, says of A Humument, “There are fractured images and spaces, regimented squares, rows of canceled words looking like squashed bugs, lines flying as furiously away as message wires, indistinct layers of smudge and grime, collages, cartoons, wallpaper, curves lying about like clipped dyed hair. The result as you initially leap, skip, and bound through the book is pure exhilaration.”
A member of the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Society of Painter Etchers and Engravers and an honorary member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Phillips was born in London in 1937 and attended St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, and the Camberwell School of Art. His work has been exhibited extensively throughout the world, with solo exhibitions at Yale University, the National Gallery of Australia, the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, the Victoria and Albert, London’s National Portrait Gallery, and the Royal Academy. In addition, he is a writer and composer, whose opera, Irma, has been performed throughout Europe and recorded on CD. He has designed for the stage, including productions of The Magic Flute for the Opera Holland Park and Otello for the ENO.