Unit One By Fowler, Alan
Unit One was a group of painters, sculptors, and architects formed in London in 1933 by the artist Paul Nash. “Unit” referred to the group’s unity of purpose, and “One” to each member’s individual style. Its unifying aim was to reflect contemporary modernism, including Surrealism and abstraction. The painters were John Armstrong, Edwin Burra, Tristram Hillier, and Paul Nash—all influenced by Surrealism—and the abstract artists John Bigge, Ben Nicholson, and Edward Wadsworth. The sculptors, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, were making biomorphic forms, while the architects Wells Coates and Colin Lucas were designing in a modernist style. The group launched with a London exhibition in 1934 which then toured provincially. A book, Unit One, edited by the art critic Herbert Read, accompanied the exhibition and carried statements by all the group’s members. The exhibition and book generated intense public controversy about the nature of modern art, although the group itself broke up in 1935 as a result of differences between its members.