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Title: Interventions : twentieth-century art collection schemes and their impact on local authority art gallery and museum collections of twentieth-century British art in Britain
Author: Summerfield, Angela
Awarding Body: City University, London
Current Institution: City, University of London
Date of Award: 2007
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In the twentieth century, collecting became a core activity of local authority art galleries and museums in Britain. A key feature of these art collections was the representation of Twentieth Century British Art. The aim of this study is to examine, for the first time, this development as abroad cultural phenomenon, through the distinctive roles played by central government-funded, and independent national and provincial art collection schemes. The central government-funded art collection schemes are the V. & A Purchase Grant Fund, War Artists' Advisory Committee and the National Heritage Memorial Fund; and the national loan and exhibition schemes offered by the Tate Gallery and the Arts Council. Independent schemes are more numerous and varied. These were administered by the National Art Collections Fund (now the Art Fund), Contemporary Art Society, Scottish Modem Arts Association, Contemporary Art Society for Wales, Henry Moore Foundation and Gulbenkian Foundation. In addition, there were the independent national loan and exhibition schemes offered by the Museums Association, Peter Stuyvesant Foundation and Alistair McAlpine and provincial schemes based in Manchester (Charles Rutherston Loan Scheme), Cardiff (National Museum of Wales Loan Scheme), Liverpool ('John Moores' competition-exhibitions) and Bradford ('International Print Biennale' competition-exhibitions). Given the geographical coverage, historical scope and focus of this study, a substantial body of published and unpublished literature was consulted. The wide-range of sources examined included institutional histories, biographies and studies of Twentieth-Century British Art; permanent collection and exhibition catalogues; newspaper, journal and magazine articles, curatorial records and correspondence; institutional records and correspondence; archival material and reports; and . correspondence and interviews. This entailed the discovery of much new material and the collation of substantial random data held by the Contemporary Art Society and the Gulbenkian Foundation This research seeks to show that local authority collecting of Twentieth-Century British Art was part of a nation-wide cultural pattern determined by certain ideas, theories and policies. Within this context, Section 1 identifies and discusses the nature and purpose of public art galleries, muscums and their art collections from 1845-1945. This momentous period in the museum movement in Britain, it is argued, sustained and generated ideas, theories and policies which encompassed national institutional hierarchies and their models of collecting, high art aesthetic standards and scholarship linked connoisseurship; the organic structure of museums; and multifaceted education. It concludes that during this formative period, an enduring cultural framework was established, from which emerged key collecting impetuses which are art history, patronage and heritage. Sections 2 and 3 examine the roles played by central government-funded and independent schemes, as a response to these issues, which also engendered and reinforced the collecting of specific types of Twentieth Century British Art. Section'4 surveys the local authority collections, which participated in the schemes, and concludes that 1957-79 was a crucial period in post-war collecting, which was both facilitated by the emergence of a considerable and dynamic network of commercial art galleries, and enhanced by national and provincial measures to decentralize the arts. A principal conclusion is that the future of modem (twentieth-century) and contemporary (twenty-first- century) British art collecting, by local authority art galleries and museums, lies in its perception as part of a collective cultural enterprise, in which the intervention of collection schemes will, as in the past, play a fundamental role. Finally, there is also a strong argument for provincial institutions to feed into a national debate as to what is selected to represent both modem and contemporary British art practice in public collections in general.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)