Summer Term - Taboos and Liberations - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Summer Term – Taboos and Liberations

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Showcasing Art History

Spring Term 2021


Showcasing Art History 2020-21

Summer Term – Taboos and Liberations

Taboos and Liberations: Gender and Sexuality in British Art, 1950-1988

27 April to 25 May 2021
In one part of 5 lectures; £95

A term of 5 lectures on questions of gender and sexuality in British post-war art, delivered by Dr Catherine Howe.


Course Description

This lecture series will explore British art produced from the 1950s into the 1980s, a period of ground-breaking creativity that confronted societal taboos and raised awareness of gender and sexual orientation inequality, challenging the stereotypical British ‘stiff upper lip’. We shall focus on a range of artists, landmark exhibitions and historical moments of freedom and oppression. The lectures begin with Francis Bacon and Keith Vaughan’s depictions of the male nude during the 1950s, when homosexuality was a crime; indeed, Bacon’s 1955 solo exhibition even prompted a police visit. We shall then consider David Hockney’s pop art and the changing attitudes that led to the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, as well as gender in Pauline Boty’s work, which coincided with the beginnings of women’s liberation in the UK. Two lectures will examine feminism and women artists during the 1970s and 1980s, including Margaret Harrison, Helen Chadwick and Lubaina Himid, among others, extending into photography, collectivity and performance. We shall conclude by looking at queer public and private lives, and discrimination during the time of Thatcherism and the HIV/AIDS crisis, through artists such as Gilbert & George, Jill Posener, Derek Jarman and Sunil Gupta. The summer term lectures will be delivered by Dr Catherine Howe.


Lecturer’s biography

Dr Catherine Howe is an Associate Lecturer at The Courtauld, specialising in twentieth-century British and French art. She is the recipient of a Paul Mellon Centre Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2020-21, for a book on Francis Bacon’s French influences. She also works as a research assistant at the Barbican Art Gallery and as a consultant for the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. She completed her PhD (2018) and MA (2014) at The Courtauld and has an undergraduate degree in English and art history from the University of Leeds (2012). She has published in numerous exhibition catalogues, including Francis Bacon: Books and Painting (Centre Pompidou, 2019) and Queer British Art: 1861-1967 (Tate Britain, 2017), to which she also contributed as a researcher and curator.

Image: Helen Chadwick, In the Kitchen (Fridge), 1977 © The Artist; reproduced with Richard Saltoun Gallery’s kind permission

Course delivery

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Fees and booking

Spaces remain available on this course; an online booking form can be found using the link below.

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Other courses at The Courtauld

If you would like to pursue art-historical themes raised by this summer term of lectures we recommend the following:

On global modernism: Summer School, course 8: American Museum, Global Modernism: The Museum of Modern Art in the World, 1929-1959   Click here >

On Pop-art: Summer School, course 28: Beyond the Brillo Box: Re-examining Pop Art 1947-1989  Click here >

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