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Apollo Events

‘Drawn from life: biography in British art history’ – a talk at London Art Fair

12 January 2023

On Thursday 19 January at 4pm, Apollo assistant editor Samuel Reilly will chair a panel discussion at London Art Fair, Islington, on the theme of British art and the environment – with panellists Peter Parker (writer, and advisory editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography), and Florence Evans (art historian, curator and director of Florence Evans Fine Art). Read more about the talk below.

Recent years have seen a proliferation of biographies published and monographical exhibitions staged on modern British artists. These have come both as a means of reassessing well-known figures such as Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon or Walter Sickert, and of returning attention to forgotten figures.

To an extent, this reflects a global trend towards the return of the biographical method in art history. But is there something in modern British art – with its neo-romantic tendencies and continued celebration of the figurative in the face of abstraction – that is peculiarly open to being read through the lives of its artists? How does it change our appreciation of the course of modern British art to think and write of Sickert, rather than the Camden Town Group, or Hepworth and not the St Ives School? How far does an emphasis on personality risk entrenching particular ways of looking at the work of artists like Freud or Bacon – and how far can it enable the possibility of broadening out the story of modern British art to encompass neglected voices?

Free to attend for all visitors to London Art Fair.