Why does a university need fine art? Why do fine artists need a university? Our new multimedia exhibition reviews this debate across seven decades of fine art at the University of Leeds.

‘Lessons in the studio: Studio in the seminar: 70 Years of Fine Art at the University of Leeds opened last week in The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery and Project Space at the School of Fine art, History of Art & Cultural Studies. The exhibition explores a long conversation between making art and studying the history of art in the context of the radical social and cultural changes since 1949. The exhibition been co-curated by art historian Griselda Pollock and artist Sam Belinfante.

Head of School Dr Joanne Crawford said:

“Many people, words and objects have made their presence felt here at the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies during the last 70 years. Whilst it is good to look towards the future and think about what is to come, it is equally important to consider the past; to consolidate and cogitate on the highs and lows and lessons learned.”

Fine art at Leeds was originally the project of the influential British war poet and modernist art historian Herbert Read, Bonamy Dobrée (then Professor of English at the University), and painter Valentine Dobrée. The fledgling Department of Fine Art was first led by painter, art historian and pioneering theorist of modern art education, Maurice de Sausmarez.  He was assisted by the distinguished refugee art historian Arnold Hauser.

What is now the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies has become internationally renowned for its critical projects in feminist and postcolonial questioning of art and culture. It also has a longstanding programme in gallery and museum studies, working closely with local and regional museums, galleries and artist-led projects.

Co-curator Professor Griselda Pollock continued:

“Reviewing our seventy years, we are rediscovering the many ways our students have used their fine art, art history and cultural and museum studies to go into the world as thinkers, artists, musicians, screenwriters, film directors, teachers, curators, editors, and novelists. These include New York Museum of Modern Art’s former chief curator John Elderfield and the creator of The Queen and The Crown Peter Morgan, to artists Jacky Fleming, Sutapa Biswas, Steve Bell and Turner Prize winner Elizabeth Price. Alumni also include musicians such as Gang of Four and Little Boots. Visiting artists – from the Gregory Fellows of the 1950s-80s to contemporary figures such as Mary Kelly and Lubaina Himid – have also been a rich part of our history.”

You can save your place at the exhibition launch HERE.

Lessons in the studio: Studio in the seminar – 70 years of Fine Art at the University of Leeds, runs from Wednesday 4 December until Saturday 4 April 2020. The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery and Project Space at the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/fine-art