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PRINT November 2019

CLOSE-UP: NAKED EYE

Derek Jarman, Journey to Avebury, 1971, Super 8, color, silent, 13 minutes 29 seconds.

TOWARD THE END OF HIS LIFE—with little time and energy left—Derek Jarman returned to painting in a spirit of vigorous, vehement urgency. Cinema had long been the celebrated center of Jarman’s art. From the mid-1970s to the early ’90s, he was, arguably, Britain’s most venturesome big-screen poet: a cultivated, risk-taking pioneer of punk and queer film. But painting had also been important to Jarman since he was a student at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, in the ’60s, fitfully recurring as an artistic compulsion in conjunction with the collaborative pressures of filmmaking and the contemplative pleasures of writing and gardening, all of which he approached, at different times, with unbounded, exploratory zeal. (Describing the cherished garden at Prospect Cottage, his coastal retreat on the beach at Dungeness in Kent, he might have been elaborating a personal creative manifesto:

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