Past Events

Exhibiting Contemporary Art in Post-War Britain, 1945-60


  • 28 to 29 January 2016
  • Thursday 28 January 2016, 13.30 - 17.30
    Followed by a drinks reception
    Friday 29 January 2016, 9.30 - 17.00

  • Clore Auditorium, Tate Britain

This conference places exhibitions of contemporary art within the wider cultural field of the period 1945-60 and poses new questions about what researching exhibitions can tell us about British art and culture at this time. Situating exhibition making within the larger socio-economic and political climate, such as the impact of the Welfare State and the introduction of the first state-sponsored exhibitions, the papers will focus attention on the diversity of exhibitions of contemporary art in post-war Britain. Speakers will ask new methodological questions about temporary displays and installations in this period to prompt innovative ways of thinking about the exhibition contexts in which contemporary art was first seen. Unearthing new archival information about exhibitions is an important strand of researching past events, but these papers will also address broader methodological questions about using exhibitions as a framework through which to research and reassess the art and culture of a particular period.

Our speakers will consider: What was the impact of exhibitions of contemporary art in this period and how do we go about assessing it? Can this period be used as a test case for thinking more broadly about the art history of exhibitions? Can researching exhibitions provide new insights and innovative ways of thinking about post-war contemporary British art?

In collaboration with: