Friday, 20 March 2020

New Lectures!


Given that the world has temporarily ground to a halt I'm doing my best to ignore the present and focus on the future. I feel the greatest sadness for all the artists and curators whose exhibitions have been cancelled or can only be experienced via the internet, and I fear for the survival of institutions I have worked with over the years. People who work in the non-commercial art world tend in my experience to be optimistic and determined, but it is no secret that museums and galleries that aren't part of the Tate or V&A empires have been struggling financially for years. They should be allowed to reopen as soon as humanly possible, or some may never open again. 

Damn, I was supposed to be thinking cheerful thoughts about the future. Oh well, here are a few new lectures to consider if you happen to be in the lecture-booking business...

Andy Warhol goes to Margate?! Photo from SEAS archive
SEASIDE MODERN: ART AND LIFE ON THE BEACH
In the first half of the 20th century something extraordinary happened to the British seaside: it became glamourous, exciting... modern. The young and sophisticated stripped off layers of Victorian prudery and cavorted on the sand in the latest daring swimwear. Artists hit the beach in search of new inspiration. And as governments introduced compulsory holidays for workers, people flocked to the seaside in ever-increasing numbers. Drawing on archive photos and advertising materials, as well as work by artists as diverse as LS Lowry, Paul Nash and Barbara Hepworth, this exuberant lecture explores a remarkable period in British culture. It is based on an exhibition I have curated for Hastings Contemporary, which is due to open in July.

DAME LAURA & DOD: HOW TWO WOMEN ARTISTS REACHED THE TOP
Within ten years Laura Knight (1936) and Dod Procter (1942) were both elected to the Royal Academy - the first female RAs in a century. Amazingly, they didn't just know each other but had lived and worked side by side in Newlyn, Cornwall. Both had lost their father early in life, both married talented (and supportive) artists, and both challenged convention by painting the female nude. Both of course were hard-working and determined, but otherwise they were very different. While Laura was popular and outgoing, relishing her public role as a Dame of the British Empire, Dod (christened Doris) was clever and caustic. At her peak she was the best there was, but it was Laura who became a national treasure. This lecture tells their stories.

THE SHOCK OF THE NEW: A SCANDALOUS HISTORY OF MODERN ART
When Matisse, Cezanne and co. were first shown in London in 1910, critics and public reacted with horror, setting the trend for the next hundred years. In an entertaining survey this lecture returns to the scene of some memorable scandals, from Salvador Dali's appearance in a diving suit in 1936 to Alfred Munnings' infamous attack on Picasso and, of course, the furore surrounding Tate's purchase of Tracy Emin's Bed. Enlivened with archive photos and satirical newspaper cartoons, this lecture explores a history of resistance to modern art - while at the same time introducing the work of modern artists in an unusual and approachable way.

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