Academic Session 23: Edinburgh 2016

AAH2016 Annual Conference and Bookfair
University of Edinburgh
7 - 9 April 2016

Roland Penrose. Curating the 20th century


Patricia Allmer, The University of Edinburgh,
Colin Rhodes, The University of Sydney,

The curatorial work of Roland Penrose (1900–84) significantly shaped 20th-century British and international art scenes, influencing practices of display and collecting, and profoundly affecting popular Western conceptions of modern art. It also defines connective and collaborative networks that help map configurations of the British avant-garde. Edinburgh is home to the archive and library of this surrealist artist, curator, writer, and collector.

Penrose’s curatorial career began in 1936, when he co-organised, with ELT Mesens, David Gascoyne and Herbert Read, the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London, marking Surrealism’s arrival in Britain and the emergence of a radically new British avant-garde. Subsequent curatorships include landmark displays of Picasso’s work in London in 1938, 1951, 1960 and 1967. As major instigator and co-founder of the London Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) he curated post-war exhibitions like 40 Years of Modern Art (1948) and 40,000 Years of Modern Art (1949), and was instrumental in other exhibitions at the ICA and major British and American museums.

This session offers theoretical and historical explorations of different dimensions of this varied, complex, and influential work.

Click here to download a .pdf of this session's paper abstracts

Antony Penrose (Lee Miller Archive and The Penrose Collection) Roland Penrose, The Discreet Collector

Rachel Stratton (The Courtauld Institute of Art) Roland Penrose and the Subversion of the Everyday: Staging and perceptual embodiment in the Surrealist Exhibition of Objects and Poems, London Gallery, 1937

Catriona McAra (Leeds College of Art) Some (Pen)Roses and Their Phantoms: A curated dialogue between Dorothea Tanning and Roland Penrose

Kerry Watson (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art) The Wonder and Horror of the Human Head: The artist as curator

Lucy Bayley (Institute of Contemporary Arts and Middlesex University) 40,000 Years of Modern Art: Through the clouded lens

Judith Walsh (University of Liverpool) Shaping International Perceptions of British Art: Roland Penrose and the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Caterina Caputo (University of Florence) Roland Penrose’s Curatorial Activity and the Intersections with his Role as Collector and Art Dealer Between 1936 and 1951

Anna F Vives (University of Sheffield) Roland Penrose’s Secret Pleasure: Àngel Planells’ pictorial art