‘Leader among Equals: The School of Bomberg and Art School Reform’: A Talk by Kate Aspinall

Thursday 28 April 2016

7pm (Gallery open 6.30-6.55pm)

Free entry, booking recommended. For information on the second event in this series please click here.

This talk is now available to read as a paper in the Digital Archive.

The first event in a two-part series exploring Bomberg as teacher, this talk will look at ways to understand Bomberg’s teachings against and within the rapid changes in art education in mid-twentieth century Britain, considering the claim that Bomberg created an environment set apart from the trends around him. Aspinall will take the position that the culture of Bomberg’s classes laid bare fundamental concerns; specifically, how belonging to a ‘school’ positions an artist within an art world that is increasingly aware of itself as a consumer economy and yet remains reliant on the romantic myth of an artist as a heroic individualist. Looking at the culture of Bomberg’s classroom and the community of makers that it crystalised, Aspinall will proffer that there was a school of Bomberg, set apart from conflations with the Borough Group or the pejorative label of ‘Bombergians’. Understanding the dynamics of this and the concurrent reactions against it sheds light on a deeper insecurity about the limits of art education within late modernism. This talk will address not only the content of Bomberg’s teachings, but also the relational politics it established and how these touched a nerve in the wider society.

Kate Aspinall is an independent historian, writer, and artist. Based in London, her research looks to the role of drawing in early 20th century British visual culture with a particular emphasis on the intersections between institutional and personal discipline. She is currently working on a monograph, The Paradox of Medium Specificity: Drawing Practice and Twentieth Century Modernism in Britain, and most recently she wrote an article on the role of the drawn mark and the Gothic within Herbert Read’s critical agenda for a special issue of Visual Resources (February 2016). She consults for the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation and serves as Chairwoman of the AAH Freelance and Independents.