The Big Sale


Artist Biographies
Tom Adams
Thomas Barclay Adams was born in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A. to a family of distinguished architects and planners. He was trained at the Chelsea School of Art and Goldsmith's College between 1946-1950. In 1949 he received a National Diploma of Painting. Between 1953-60 Adams illustrated natural and Regimental history pages for Eagle and natural history features for Eagle, Girl and Swift. In 1958 he founded Adams Design Associates with Anna and Andy Garnett, where he produced large murals in the then-new medium of laminated plastic for various firms such as The Royal Bank of Scotland, Chartered Bank, Aspro Nicholas and Airscrew Jiewood.

In 1960 Adams Design Associates became DANAD Designs with a group of architects and designers. In 1965 Adams joined his father, the late James W.R. Adams OBE, eminent town planner and landscape architect, who was planning and design consultant to the Poster Advertising Planning Committee, for whom he helped produce a book: "Posters Look to the Future". He mounted an exhibition at the Tea Center in Regent Street opened by Sir Hugh Casson in 1966. During this period, Adams met Virgil Pomfret and joined his artists' agency. Apart from a few gaps when pursuing other activities (like running art galleries), Adams has been with Pomfret ever since. With Virgil's representation, Adams began a career as a book cover illustrator, most notably for the early John Fowles' novels The Collector, The Magus and The French Lieutenant's Woman (Cape) and the now famous paperpack covers for Agatha Christie (Collins UK and Simon & Schuster USA). This period covered 1963-1975. A book on these cover paintings, with commentary by Julian Symons and an introduction by John Fowles was published in 1981 by Dragons World.

Adams has won various awards for illustration, notably the American Society of Illustrators, The American Art Directors Association, and The Design and Art Directors Association, UK.

In 1967 Adams opened the Fulham Gallery, which not only gave first exhibitions of some now famous artists, but was for several years the center of the late '60's phenomenon - the poetry print. With C.Day-Lewis (the Poet Laureate) and artist Joseph Herman and John Piper, Adams produced the investiture print for the Prince of Wales.

Adams also designed posters for Mark Boyle's light shows (The Sensual Laboratory), going on tour with The Jimmy Hendrix Experience and The Soft Machine. His connection with the modern world of rock music continued when he met Lou Reed, an admirer of his Christie and Raymond Chandler covers. Reed asked Adams to design the cover for his first UK solo album. As a result of this friendship with Lou Reed, Andy Warhol offered to sponsor of exhibition of Tom's work in New York. Adams did eventually work in the States in the early 70's where he was asked by Marshall Arisman to teach at the New York Central School of Art.

Around this time, having completed a private commission to paint a portrait of Benjamin Britten in 1971, the Aldeburgh Festival committee commissioned him to produce a limited edition print with William Plomer and Mary Potter as part of the fundraising for the restoration of the Snape Maltings. His occasional portrait commissions have include HRH Price of Wales, Benjamin Britten (twice), J.D. Curran, retiring head of ITA Federico Fellini or the Playboy organization, Bud Flanagan, Richard Dimbleby, and President Tubman of Liberia. In 1997 he was commissioned to paint a posthumous portrait of Enid Blyton, whose centenary occurred that year, by the family and estate, in the style of the Britten portrait. This was later auctioned at Sotheby's in aid of the Children's Charity, The Royal Variety Club of Great Britain.

Tom Adams has worked in films from time to time, mostly science fiction, including "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Flash Gordon", where his skills as an illustrator were enhanced by his virtuosity in designing special effects.

In 1980, with the backing of Geoffrey Greenwood, Tom Adams opened a new print gallery in Pimlico. This was very successful and established a reputation for promoting the work of young printmakers, mounting post-graduate diploma shows from the Chelsea School of Art and others, and providing an art for business service.

Adams has continued to carry out murals, old masters copies and other commisssions for Wimpey Construction Group, Lloyds Bank, Aspro Nicholas, Phillips Petroleum, Intercraft Designs, Daiwa Europe, H.K. Furniture and others. In the late '80's, Adamas worked on a series of advertisements for Bell's Whisky, one of which (The Book) won a Reader's Digest Ad of the Year award.

Tom Adams paintings are in public and private collections in the UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Liberia, Italy, Spain and the USA. He continues to design, print and publish his own limited editions. His prints are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the V&A Museum, London.

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