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Pop art redefined British pop arts of the 1960s: towards a social and institutional history

Pop art redefined British pop arts of the 1960s: towards a social and institutional history
Pop art redefined British pop arts of the 1960s: towards a social and institutional history
This thesis uses new histories of exhibitions, cultural institutions, individuals and artworks to problematize and reconfigure current conceptions of British Pop art, arguing for the deployment of the term ‘British Pop arts’, as opposed to ‘British Pop Art’, to reflect the varied usage of the artistic practice across Britain during the 1960s. The central conclusion of this historical account is the recognition of a wider Pop arts network, albeit formed of disparate and often conflictual subjectivities, which coalesced around a particular cultural discourse and attendant institutions. The celebrated Royal College of Art ‘Pop artists’ are located within a network of ‘Pop art producers’; a new historical descriptor which encompasses a wider array of largely overlooked artists whose practices are positioned within a particular visual art discourse. The ‘Northern neo-realist’ Pop arts practised in Liverpool, the ‘Jazz art’ of Mal Dean and the ‘Fine Artz’ of The Fine Artz Associates all represent examples of an alternative, often oppositional, Pop arts, many of which actively resisted the assumed dominance of RCA Pop art and the spectacular cultures of ‘Swinging London’. The hegemonic discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, the historical sociology of culture propounded by Raymond Williams and certain aspects of Bruno Latour’s Actor Network Theory are employed in this account. Such an approach generates a discursive, materialist and networked re-reading of the political economy of the British cultural field during 1960s, locating ‘Pop art producers’ and ‘Pop arts’ within contemporaneous hegemonic discourses, socio-economic structures and institutional narratives. An extensive analysis of archives, oral histories, interviews, artworks, policy documents and critical publications suggests that British Pop art producers were often reliant upon a shared structure of new, state-orchestrated yet commercially-funded exhibitions; sites predicated upon particular social, political and economic discourses pertinent to the 1960s. For many Pop art producers, this period also saw the development of a vibrant counternetwork of artist-led, informal exhibitions in non-art spaces such as nightclubs, cinemas, and car salesrooms which actively challenged such ‘official’ institutions. However, the ‘unofficial’ and unrecognised art world status of these exhibitions together with the informality of their contemporaneous historical recording has resulted in a lack of contemporary historicization, an omission this institutional history of British Pop arts seeks to amend.
Peterson Gilbert, Oliver
468635f1-50d0-401c-a00a-c689fa415637
Peterson Gilbert, Oliver
468635f1-50d0-401c-a00a-c689fa415637
Manghani, Sunil
75650a9a-458d-4e1a-9480-94491300e385

(2015) Pop art redefined British pop arts of the 1960s: towards a social and institutional history. University of Southampton, Winchester School of Art, Doctoral Thesis, 435pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis uses new histories of exhibitions, cultural institutions, individuals and artworks to problematize and reconfigure current conceptions of British Pop art, arguing for the deployment of the term ‘British Pop arts’, as opposed to ‘British Pop Art’, to reflect the varied usage of the artistic practice across Britain during the 1960s. The central conclusion of this historical account is the recognition of a wider Pop arts network, albeit formed of disparate and often conflictual subjectivities, which coalesced around a particular cultural discourse and attendant institutions. The celebrated Royal College of Art ‘Pop artists’ are located within a network of ‘Pop art producers’; a new historical descriptor which encompasses a wider array of largely overlooked artists whose practices are positioned within a particular visual art discourse. The ‘Northern neo-realist’ Pop arts practised in Liverpool, the ‘Jazz art’ of Mal Dean and the ‘Fine Artz’ of The Fine Artz Associates all represent examples of an alternative, often oppositional, Pop arts, many of which actively resisted the assumed dominance of RCA Pop art and the spectacular cultures of ‘Swinging London’. The hegemonic discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, the historical sociology of culture propounded by Raymond Williams and certain aspects of Bruno Latour’s Actor Network Theory are employed in this account. Such an approach generates a discursive, materialist and networked re-reading of the political economy of the British cultural field during 1960s, locating ‘Pop art producers’ and ‘Pop arts’ within contemporaneous hegemonic discourses, socio-economic structures and institutional narratives. An extensive analysis of archives, oral histories, interviews, artworks, policy documents and critical publications suggests that British Pop art producers were often reliant upon a shared structure of new, state-orchestrated yet commercially-funded exhibitions; sites predicated upon particular social, political and economic discourses pertinent to the 1960s. For many Pop art producers, this period also saw the development of a vibrant counternetwork of artist-led, informal exhibitions in non-art spaces such as nightclubs, cinemas, and car salesrooms which actively challenged such ‘official’ institutions. However, the ‘unofficial’ and unrecognised art world status of these exhibitions together with the informality of their contemporaneous historical recording has resulted in a lack of contemporary historicization, an omission this institutional history of British Pop arts seeks to amend.

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More information

Published date: October 2015
Organisations: University of Southampton, Winchester School of Art

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 385575
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/385575
PURE UUID: 103a6e86-8324-435d-85ca-3cb2bc419bdf
ORCID for Sunil Manghani: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6406-7456

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 20 Apr 2016 13:25
Last modified: 04 Jun 2020 00:34

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Contributors

Author: Oliver Peterson Gilbert
Thesis advisor: Sunil Manghani ORCID iD

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