James Hull was a painter and interior designer. Born in London, Hull studied architectural design before World War II, during which he served in the Army, 1939–46, eventually becoming a toymaker and scenery designer. His early paintings adhere to Surrealism, but this changed to a Constructionist style using pure colour and basic geometrical shapes. With the help of Herbert Read Hull had his first exhibition in the Brook Street Gallery in 1949. As his reputation as a member of the avant-garde grew, he showed at Gimpel Fils. In 1951 he painted the mural ‘The Story of Coal’ for the Festival of Britain’s Dome of Discovery. During the late 1950s he showed in Paris and New York, but economic pressures spurred him to enter and win a competition to design the interior of the Daily Mirror building. Hull worked for the IPC publishing conglomerate until 1970.
After an idyllic sojourn in Ibiza he did a variety of designing jobs in several continents, returning to London in straitened circumstances in 1980. During the period before his death his reputation as a pioneer abstractionist was re-established with shows at the Camden Galleries and Whitford and Hughes.