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A new generation of British art: A problem of provincialism

Juliff, T 2018 , 'A new generation of British art: A problem of provincialism' , Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, vol. 18, no. 1 , pp. 125-145 , doi: 10.1080/14434318.2018.1481335.

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The curators and participating artists of the critically mauled Australia exhibitionheld at London's Royal Academy (RA) in 2013 might take some small amount ofsolace in recognising that the only RA exhibition considered worse in recent memorywas that of the survey of British sculpture two years earlier. Entitled simplyenough 20th Century British Sculpture and curated by the then recently appointeddirector of Tate Britain, Penelope Curtis, that 2011 exhibition was harangued andhated in equal measure for its omissions, lack of vitality and bored provincialism.Labelled ‘shamefully bad’, ‘misguided’ and ‘just stupid’ by Peter Buchanan,‘joyless’ by Laura Cummings, and – in an especially vitriolic zero-stars review byAndrew Graham-Dixon – ‘lamentable’, the 2011 survey fared poorly in manynational reviews. In attempting to navigate the alluring and representativeimpulse of surveys of national art whilst simultaneously aggregating the globalinfluences upon and the internationalism of its mid-late century, the show failedto represent the vitality and wider contribution of British sculpture. Resisting theshow-stopping, globally recognised names of Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoorin favour of little-known sculptural works by Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas, post1960sworks sat next to canonical transatlantic figures such as Carl Andre and JeffKoons. The work – the critics bemoaned – was more regional than international,mid-Atlantic than trans-Atlantic, and bitterly and anachronistically out of touchwith its progressive international cousins.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Juliff, T
Keywords: British art, sculpture, historiography, exhibition history
Journal or Publication Title: Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1443-4318
DOI / ID Number: 10.1080/14434318.2018.1481335
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 The Art Association of Australia and New Zealand, Inc.

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