American Art Archives in Britain

Contexts for American Art Archives in Britain

Work in Progress workshop

On Monday 24 May 2021 we will be holding a virtual closed workshop for grant awardees on work in progress. There will be a further event, in person at The Courtauld if circumstances allow, on 29 November 2021, and an in-person symposium, also at The Courtauld, 6-7 May 2022 aimed at PhD and immediately postdoctoral researchers. Further details in due course.


Lucy Bradnock, University of Nottingham
Karen Di Franco, Tate/University of Reading & UAL
John Fagg, University of Birmingham
Mark Rawlinson, University of Nottingham

The American Art Archives in Britain project will develop four case studies on: the 1958 exhibition Abstract Impressionism, curated by critic and curator Lawrence Alloway and artist Harold Cohen; work made by Carolee Schneemann during her stay in the UK between 1969-73; the Pop Art collection at Wolverhampton Art Gallery; and landscape photographic prints in British public and private collections. This discussion will explore the research contexts for this archival material and approaches and methods for archival research on American art in the UK.

Call for Papers 2021 (Expired)

This project aims to tell the stories of, and stories contained in, archival records and documents generated by American artists, artworks and artworld activities in Britain.

This might mean bringing new materials to light, such as the archival record of Pop Art at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, or finding new ways to approach well-known sources, like the Whistler collections at the University of Glasgow. It might follow the trail left by transatlantic artists, like Claire Leighton, who gained prominence in interwar Britain before moving to and taking citizenship in the US. Or, it might trace, through Arts Council and other institutional records, local and national media archives, and business or personal correspondence, the exhibition, sale and acquisition of American art. London may be as central to many of these stories as it is to the artworld, but American art takes on particular meaning in, and attracts a local response from, British regional spaces, as in George Grey Barnard’s Lincoln statue presented in Manchester in 1919, or responds the histories of such sites, as in Kara Walker’s 2004 Grub for Sharks: A Concession to the Negro Populace at Tate Liverpool. American art’s presence may be brief, like the Abstract Expressionist exhibition in Nottingham in 1958, and or leave only minimal traces, like Winslow Homer’s 1881 entry ticket to the British Museum print room.

Few UK holdings match the breadth and depth of material on American artists in US archives, and so this project encourages and facilitates consideration of what constitutes an archive, the meaning of scarcity as well as abundance and the ways small details add to, frame, and disrupt established narratives. American Art Archives in Britain does not aim to catalogue or survey archives, but to find case studies and examples that tell new and significant stories about American art and transatlantic dialogue, or that explore the aims and methods of art historical research.

We invite applications for funding up to £750 to support individual researchers or groups comprising an established scholar and one or more postgraduate students.

Please provide should include a short CV from the lead, a short statement (c 250 words) identifying the archive(s) and aims of the research, and a breakdown of the funds requested. These may include:

  • Travel and accommodation expenses
  • Administrative fees that enable researchers to work with museum and gallery collections, including digitisation fees or other costs for remote access to resources
  • A stipend to support one or more postgraduate students conducting research with support of an academic supervisor

Please send applications to Professor David Peters Corbett ( and Dr John Fagg ( by Friday 15 January 2020.

Funding recipients will participate in two (online) workshops hosted by the Courtauld Institute in Spring/Summer 2021. At these events participants will present initial findings and explore ways of writing up and sharing the research.

Previous Events

On November 4 a group of UK and US scholars and curators met to share approaches and case studies for working with American Art Archives in Britain, that may offer ideas and inspiration for anyone interested in participating in this project.

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