Patronage, professionalism and youth: the emerging artist and London's Art institutions 1949–1988

Massouras, Alexander (2013) Patronage, professionalism and youth: the emerging artist and London's Art institutions 1949–1988. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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In 1949, the first Young Contemporaries exhibition presented work by art school students in London. In 1988, Freeze displayed the work of artists who became known as the young British artists (‘YBAs’). This dissertation offers a historical framework and a critical account of the concept of the ‘emerging artist’—developed during the intervening forty years—a term typically associated with Freeze and the YBAs. The dissertation offers a corrective to the widely held belief that an interest in young and emerging artists was a new development in the 1980s, by reconnecting the notion with much earlier roots in the 1950s. It also revises the term’s commercial connotation. ‘Emerging artist’ posits something yet to come, and is loaded with suggestions of investment and future value. These traits can be read as imprints of the marketplace. This research demonstrates that a focus on young artists’ work in fact evolved as a result of changes to education and public patronage that occurred during the expansion of the welfare state. The art market contributed to the phenomenon, but did not shape it alone. Alongside the historical account of these institutional changes this dissertation considers the relationship between characteristics associated with the emerging artist and those associated with creativity more generally. Judgments of quality and value are in part made institutionally: an artist’s worth is attested by passage through prestigious educational institutions, exhibition in respected galleries, and collection by public institutions and important individuals. But there remains a conflicting appetite for these artists to be ‘outsiders’, expressed in the discourse which frames and receives them. It is in the ‘emerging artist’ that these competing demands can be reconciled. This analysis concludes by framing the ‘emerging artist’ as a paradigmatic artist, with dual appeal both as institutional ‘insider’ and romantic ‘outsider’.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: London Consortium
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2014 13:45
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 12:46

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