- 3 July 2020
The Centre’s Director of Studies Mark Hallett and Deputy Director for Research Sarah Turner are each co-organising a session at next year’s Association for Art History Conference, taking place at the University of Birmingham, 14–17 April. Both sessions are now inviting proposals to give papers until 19 October 2020.
The Big Screen: Art History and British Cinema
Organised by Mark Hallett and Lynda Nead (Birkbeck)
Ever since its earliest iterations, British cinema has generated exceptionally ambitious and experimental forms of visual representation; equally, it has stimulated outstanding critical and historical interpretation from within the discipline of film studies. In recent years, art historians and film historians have, within higher education, regularly been grouped within single departments, a combination which would seem rational given their shared focus on visual culture. Frequently, however, the two disciplines remain separate and only occasionally do they draw on each other’s forms and methodologies. Furthermore, though art-historical scholarship has recently been directed at artists’ films, and at artists’ moving practice work more generally, less attention has been granted by the discipline to the imagery and histories of British cinema, both mainstream and independent.
Given this situation, now seems a good moment to take stock of the relationship between British art studies and British film studies, and to think anew about how we might work between and across these areas of scholarship to produce exciting new studies of British art and cinema, drawing on the finest historical scrutiny and interpretation within both subject fields. How, we can ask, does working across art (in its broadest sense) and cinema expand and enrich our understanding of the visual arts, and what new insights can be developed by putting different kinds of artistic practice and cultural production into dialogue?
This session is underpinned by such concerns, and encourages papers that pursue one or more of the following approaches or topics:
- New art-historical perspectives on both mainstream and independent British cinema
- The relationships between British cinema and the wider realm of visual art practice
- The opportunities and challenges of bringing art-historical methods into dialogue with the critical apparatus of film studies
- Close or contextual readings of individual examples of British film
- Inter-medial and formal relationships between British art and cinema
- Thematic and subject-specific relationships between British art and cinema
- Institutional and historical contexts for British art and cinema
- The issue of genres across art and cinema: landscape; history; portraiture
- The imagery of the body
- Viewers and viewing
- Movement and stasis
- Greyscale and colour; shadow and light.
Female art dealers were integral in expanding the horizons of modern art in mid-twentieth-century Britain, yet the significance of their work remains marginalised in art histories. Erica Brausen, Lillian Browse, Peggy Guggenheim, Lea Bondi Jaray, Annely Juda, Helen Lessore, Halima Nalecz, Peter Norton, Ala Story and Lucy Wertheim (among others) promoted emerging and established British and international artists. Their activities created avant-garde networks that became sites of cultural exchange across geographical and disciplinary borders. Providing not only crucial financial infrastructures for new art markets, they also gave social and emotional support to artists. What happens if, rather than being known for their supporting roles as facilitators, these women are recast as active agents in art-historical discourses? How can modernist narratives account for them and their commercial ventures? Can we configure collective and collaborative histories where these women – many of whom were queer and/or Jewish émigrés and refugees – are recognised for their role in modern art in Britain?
We seek papers exploring the work of female* art dealers in mid-twentieth-century Britain and their impact on its discourses (*including those who identified with unconventional definitions of gender and sex). Within this area, topics could include:
- individual and gallery legacies in art history and public art collections
- international exchanges that shaped modern art
- relationships between private and public art institutions
- professional and personal relationships between dealers, collectors and artists
- queer intersections between private and public art worlds
- lesbian subcultures
- ‘otherness’, refugee émigré and Jewish female subjectivities.