Talk: New Ways of Modern Bohemia – Edward Burra in London, Paris, Marseilles and Harlem

Edward Burra, The Snack Bar, 1930. Photo c. Tate and Lefevre Fine Art.

The Rothenstein Lecture, Tate Britain, Wednesday 28th November 2012, 6:30pm

The Rothenstein Lecture series is an annual lecture programme at Tate Britain in which eminent scholars address aspects of modern British art, offering fresh insights into the work of individual artists or exploring themes relating to particular periods. Andrew Stephenson presents the next lecture in the series, looking at the shifting geographies of bohemianism in the interwar years as represented in the work of Edward Burra (1905–76).

Taking as his starting point the observation in a 1926 press article that the down-at-heel drinking clubs and music halls of the years before the First World War were being replaced everywhere by modern nightclubs, fashionable hotels and glamorous cocktail bars, Stephenson explores how the identity of Burra and his circle as ‘modern bohemians’ was shaped within and by these metropolitan locations. He notes how Burra’s night life scenes in London, Paris, Marseilles and Harlem were framed by the visual vocabularies of interwar photography, photojournalism and film, and shows how the artist was committed to developing a cosmopolitan modernism that publicised more relaxed, contemporary roles for young men and women and championed sexually liberal values.

Andrew Stephenson teaches in the School of Arts and Digital Industries at the University of East London. He completed his doctorate on Edward Burra at the University of Edinburgh in 1988. A specialist in British modernism, his most recent publications include ‘Painting and Sculpture of a Decade ’54–’64 Revisited’ in Art History, April 2012, and essays in The Camden Town Group in Context, Tate 2012, and Julie Codell ed., Transculturation in British Art 1770–1930, Ashgate Press 2012.

Please note that admission to the Rothenstein Lecture is free but places are limited. If you are interested in attending, please email rothensteinlecture@tate.org.uk before Friday 16 November 2012.

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