November 10, 2013 § 1 Comment
Conference: April 12th, 2014, UCL; CFP Deadline: December 15th, 2013.
Historic iterations of abstraction in the visual arts have traditionally been associated with terms such as the non-representational, the non-figurative, and the immaterial, in opposition to a loosely defined concept of realism. In the post-war period, however, both realism and abstraction became unstable concepts, deployed to refer to a range of diverse practices, from Nouveau Réalisme to Art Informel to Abstract Expressionism. This conference invites papers that rethink the relation between realism and abstraction in the period between 1970 and the contemporary moment. Of particular concern are the impacts of two intersecting events: the advent of Neoliberalism and the dismantling of Modernism in art history.
‘Art in the Age of Real Abstraction’ seeks to investigate contemporary forms of abstraction through the analysis of different modes of representation, affectivity and performativity, drawing lines of continuity and addressing points of ambiguity between post-war abstraction and contemporary iterations. In recent critical discourse reification has been described as both a process of abstraction and as a figural process. On this view ‘Real Abstraction’ might be understood as the becoming-concrete of the abstract. As such ‘Real Abstraction’ calls for a rethinking of what the terms realism, figuration and abstraction might mean today.
November 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment
At times realistic, at other times fable-like, the work of the British sculptor Nicola Hicks captures something of the physical and psychological power of living beings. The striking, often life-sized creatures that Hicks creates are vividly animated. Usually executed in straw and plaster, her works appear tactile and spontaneous, retaining a sense of the working process in the studio even when painstakingly cast into bronze.
This exhibition features seven recent sculptures by Hicks and a selection of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century paintings from the collection of the Yale Center for British Art. These paintings have been selected by Hicks based not on art-historical criteria, but on a personal, subjective response to the works. The selection underscores her interest in art that captures expression and emotion, and that demonstrates human empathy for the life-force of different creatures. The Center is home to one of the world’s most important collections of British animal paintings and portraiture, and Hicks’s intervention offers a unique opportunity to reflect upon the contemporary resonances of these traditions. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 14, 2013 § Leave a Comment
A one-day conference at the University of York, Berrick Saul Building, Friday 29th November 2013, 10.00am – 6.30pm
Speakers: Elena Crippa (Tate), Antony Hudek (Liverpool John Moores), Dominic Johnson (QMUL), Carmen Juliá (Tate), Courtney J. Martin (Brown), Lucy Reynolds (Central St Martins), Joy Sleeman (UCL), Lisa Tickner (Courtauld Institute of Art), Isobel Whitelegg (Nottingham Contemporary) & Andrew Wilson (Tate).
Bringing together new research on the national and international networks that came to characterise the London art world during the 1960s and 1970s, this conference at the University of York aims to trace the many informal, impromptu and experimental relationships that exist alongside, and fragment, more established institutional histories of British art in this period. The day will explore a diversity of practices, movements and spaces, ranging from painting, sculpture and film through to land art, performance and activism, addressing in particular the impact of feminism, international exchange – specifically with Latin America – and changes in art education on the works produced during these two extremely lively and innovative decades, when understandings of the ‘art world’ were challenged and reformulated in multiple ways. Papers will include studies of Alexander Trocchi’s Project Sigma, Stephen Willat’s Control Magazine, Expanded Cinema at Gallery House, the emergence of the artist performance-lecture, and the performances of COUM Transmissions, and the day will end with a roundtable discussion to which all are invited to contribute. « Read the rest of this entry »
Exhibition: ‘British Modern Art II 1948–68: Pop Art’ & ‘The New Situation – Art in London in the Sixties’
September 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The New Situation – Art in London in the Sixties, at Sotheby’s until 11 September 2013 : British Modern Art II 1948: Pop Art at Christie’s, 9 October – 24 November 2013
Two exhibitions at Christies and Sotheby’s provide an opportunity to see a great selection of mid-twentieth century British Art. The Christies exhibition, opening in October focuses on Pop artists including Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, Richard Hamilton and David Hockney and is produced with Waddington Custot to launch the new Christie’s gallery space in Mayfair. At Sotheby’s work by Hockney, Allen Jones, Bridgey Riley and Anthony Caro is shown alongside Derek Boshier, Joe Tilson, Richard Smith, Phillip King and Liliane Lijn among others. The exhibition is curated by John Kasmin, a prominent dealer and gallerist in the 60s, it celebrates the art of ‘Swinging London’.
The Sotheby’s show open only until Wednesday offers five rooms of sculpture and painting as well as some drawings, prints and two Richard Smith maquettes. Claiming to broaden the acclaim of the exhibited artists, The New Situation attempts to frame a new canon of British 60s art. Taking place within the thick-carpeted rooms of Sotheby’s Bond Street headquarters and lit with aura-inducing back lights, the works are carefully placed with more well-known works speaking to the lesser known, providing some context but more cache. In the accompanying catalogue we are told that the show (in both content and name) pivots on three key exhibitions, Situation (1960), The New London Situation (1962) and London- the New Scene (1965-66), the latter of which toured North America. Like the galleries at Bond Street, these three exhibitions also sought to show British art in sleek settings comparable to the ‘cool clean’ museum spaces in America. Underlying this appropriation are the complex political, economic and social relationships between Britain and American that structured artistic exchange the 1960s. The witty pop bricolage, luscious colours and sleek materials in The New Situation trace a British canon curtailed commercially but the exhibition fails to account for the dynamics, interactions or overlaps that many of these artists used to disrupt national association or canonicity .
The Christie’s show likewise proposes a return to the overlooked and under-celebrated of British art. Taking place in their new private sales space, the exhibition will usher in a new chapter in the history of the auction house. An expansion that echoes the shifting impact of commercial spaces of the 1960s.
August 31, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Until 13 October 2013
This exhibition explores the period between the First and Second World Wars was one of rich and varied creativity in Britain. This exhibition celebrates the diversity of this era in which British artists both adopted and rejected artistic innovation in order to explore a new expression for the particular time in which they lived. The impact of the First World War was as devastating for the arts as it was for society as a whole. Prior to the start of the War in 1914, contemporary British art celebrated modernity and the dawning of the machine age. However, many artists served in the armed forces during the War and experienced the full horror of the trenches on the front line. Their experience of the destruction wrought by the new weapons of the machine age brought about a significant reaction against innovation and experimentation in art.
During the 1920s, artists returned to traditional, uncontroversial and often timeless subject matter, especially landscape and still life. They went back to explore earlier artistic styles and to engage with the very tradition they had once rejected. Their initial attempt to recover from the War led to a tendency towards escapism and nostalgia in art. By the 1930s, British artists began again to engage and experiment with creative developments including abstraction and Surrealism. However, the new mood of artistic idealism was now in strong contrast to the bleak realities of the economic and political situation. The Great Depression was a period of high unemployment and great hardship for many people in Britain, especially in the north where industries such as steel, ship building and coal mining suffered the most. It was also a troubled period of European history characterised by the rise of radical political movements including Fascism and Communism. Rather than represent this decade of economic and political upheaval, the subject of much British art remained escapist. Throughout this period, British artists explored, questioned and rejected the requirement that to be truly modern was to break with the past.
August 31, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Nash, Nevinson, Spencer, Gertler, Carrington, Bomberg, 1908-1922, Until 22nd September 2013
C.R.W. Nevinson, Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, Dora Carrington, David Bomberg and Paul Nash became some of the most well-known and distinctive British artists of the twentieth century. Students together at the Slade School of Art in London between 1908 and 1912, they formed part of what their esteemed drawing teacher Henry Tonks described as the school’s last ‘crisis of brilliance’. As their talents evolved they became Futurists, Vorticists and ‘Bloomsberries’, and befriended the leading writers and intellectuals of their day. This exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London features over 70 original works by the group and explore the artists’ development culminating with a selection of their paintings made during and after the Great War of 1914-18 generating some of the most provoking visual records of that epochal event.
July 28, 2013 § Leave a Comment
National Portrait Gallery, London: Until 13 October 2013
Dame Laura Knight (1877 –1970) was one of the most popular and pioneering British artists of the twentieth century – although her career has suffered critical neglect, the time feels ripe for re-appraisal of her powerful portraits, especially those exploring the roles of women in twentieth century society. Her artistic career took her from Cornwall to Baltimore, and from the circus to the Nuremberg Trials. She painted dancers at the Ballets Russes and Gypsies at Epsom races, and was acclaimed for her work as an official war artist. Knight used portraiture to capture contemporary life and culture, and her paintings are remarkable for their diverse range of subjects and settings. This exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery of over thirty portraits reveals Knight’s highly distinctive and vivid work, and also illustrate her success in gaining greater professional recognition for women in the arts. For a longer account of the works in the show see A Life in Portraits on the National Gallery’s website, and a slideshow on the Guardian. The exhibition will also be traveling to Nottingham and Plymouth throughout 2013 and 2014.
May 14, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Thursday 13th June 2013, CRASSH, University of Cambridge, 9.30am – 5.30pm
What is the artist’s role – and responsibility – in visually interpreting the Bible? How did this change in nineteenth-century Britain, when the stability of scripture was increasingly uncertain? How do sacred texts in particular pose problems for the relationship between the verbal and the visual? This one day colloquium will consider how religious belief, form, function, medium, gender, and sexuality figured in representations of Biblical narrative, spanning textiles, painting, drawing and sculpture. Speakers: Michaela Giebelhausen (Essex), Colin Cruise (Aberystwyth), Ayla Lepine (Yale/Courtauld), Claire Jones (York )
May 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Until 9th June 2013, Institute of Contemporary Art, London
To coincide with the 60th anniversary of the ground-breaking exhibition Parallel of Life & Art, this display presents original art works by the Independent Group in the Fox Reading Room.
The Independent Group met at the original ICA in Dover Street from 1952-5 and comprised architects Alison and Peter Smithson, James Stirling and Colin St John Wilson; artists Magda Cordell, Richard Hamilton, Nigel Henderson, John McHale, Eduardo Paolozzi and William Turnbull; music producer Frank Cordell and writers Lawrence Alloway, Reyner Banham and Toni del Renzio. Celebrated today as the so-called Fathers of Pop, the Group worked with art, science, technology and popular culture. From horror films to theories of evolution, modern architecture to Marilyn Monroe, this group project worked beyond traditional boundaries and conventional disciplinary areas.
May 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Until 16th June 2013, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
This exhibition at Pallant House Gallery, subtitled ‘Analyst for Our Time’, will feature over 70 major paintings, sketches and prints presenting an overview of all periods of Kitaj’s extensive oeuvre from the 1960s to his death in 2007. It will consider Kitaj’s early presentations of a fragmented world, reflecting his interest in art history and intellectuals such as ‘Aby Warburg’, and his paintings and collages addressing issues of European politics, philosophy and literature such as ‘The Murder of Rosa Luxembourg’ and ‘The Rise of Fascism’. It will also include Kitaj’s remarkable portraits of personal friends and figures he admired such as his portrait of David Hockney, ‘The Neo-Cubist’, and fictional characters from literature such as ‘The Arabist’ His fascination with the relationship between the body, sexuality and history is presented in a series of powerful paintings of bathers including ‘Self-Portrait as a Woman’ and ‘The Sensualist’.