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Title: Constructing national identities through exhibition practices in post-war London : Anglo-French exchanges and contemporary sculpture on display, c.1945-1966
Author: Powell, Jennifer Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2675 0547
Awarding Body: The University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis explores exhibition practices in London between 1945 and 1966 through displays of contemporary sculpture related to Britain and France. The analysis of a selection of government funded, private and commercial galleries and organisations reveals how processes of selection, display, catalogue writing and reviews shaped, and were paradoxically shaped by, slippery constructions of national identities. The post-war period witnessed economic and social hardships but it was also a time for regeneration in which the visual arts in Britain and France were afforded important roles. Anglo-French political and military relationships during, and after, the war are well documented; however, this thesis examines attitudes towards Anglo-French exchanges through the visual arts by focusing on the role that exhibitions of sculpture in played in these dialogues. The thesis argues that although Anglo-French exchanges were exploited to feed into the processes of national rebuilding, opportunities remained limited for the display of contemporary sculpture from Britain and France in London during this period. The thesis, therefore, highlights four exhibiting spaces that were key in promoting Anglo-French exchanges in the field of sculpture; namely the Anglo French Art Centre (1946 to 1951), Institute of Contemporary Arts (founded 1948), Hanover Gallery (1947 to 1973), and the London County Council's (from 1966 the Greater London Council) triennial exhibitions of open-air sculpture from 1948 to 1966. These sites facilitated exchanges through personal contact, the physical exchange of objects for display, the commercial art market and through exhibition practices. The thesis reveals that often during this period the promotion of national pride and independent `schools' of sculpture lay beneath the surface of outwards proclamations of mutual exchanges between Britain and France. It also argues that constructing national identities through exhibition practices was particularly prominent in relation to open-air exhibitions of sculpture in which links between the sculptural object, land and the nation were stressed, and where dialogues of independence and separation were privileged, rather than reciprocal exchanges. Thus this thesis forms a major contribution to studies of sculpture exhibitions in London after the war and to dialogues between exhibition practices and the manipulation of national identity constructions during this period
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available