Representing the Industrial Scene: Lowry in Context 1900-1980

Tuesday 4 June 2013, 4.15PM to 6.15pm

The first solo exhibition of L.S. Lowry’s work since his death in 1976 – ‘Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life’ – opens this summer at Tate Britain. Curated by T.J. Clark and Anne Wagner – visiting professors in York’s History of Art Department – the exhibition takes its title from Clark’s seminal publication, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers (1985), and “aims to re-assess Lowry’s contribution as part of a wider art history and to argue for his achievement as Britain’s pre-eminent painter of the industrial city”.

Central to Tate’s show is its aim to “reveal what Lowry learned from the strange ‘symbolist’ townscapes of his French-born teacher at the Manchester School of Art, Adolphe Valette, and demonstrate important parallels with late 19th and early 20th century French painting, including works by Camille Pissarro and Maurice Utrillo”.

Representing the Industrial Scene: Lowry in Context 1900-80’ seeks to continue the conversation initiated by this major exhibition by bringing together researchers within the History of Art Department at York to reflect on Lowry’s context and legacy. Through four short position papers and the chance for group debate and discussion, it will develop a specifically British art historical context for Lowry’s work and draw his work into a dialogue with concurrent movements in British painting, celebrating Lowry’s position as foremost painter of Britain’s industrial life.

Dr Samuel Shaw’s paper will examine attempts to represent the industrial scene by British artists in the opening decades of the twentieth century. Kirstin Donaldson will then assess the industrial fascination of the English Surrealists and other artists associated with the Mass-Observation movement in the 1930s. Robert Sutton will then look to representations of British industry and life as impacted upon by World War Two. Finally, Catherine Spencer will explore the legacies of industrialism as they presented themselves in the later part of the century.

 Lowry symposium poster (PDF , 300kb)


Location: The Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building

Admission: All welcome!