The social, political and economic determinants of a modern portrait artist: Bernard Fleetwood-Walker (1893-1965)

Considine, Marie (2012). The social, political and economic determinants of a modern portrait artist: Bernard Fleetwood-Walker (1893-1965). University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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As the first major study of the portrait artist Bernard Fleetwood-Walker (1893-1965), this thesis locates the artist in his social, political and economic context, arguing that his portraiture can be seen as an exemplar of modernity. The portraits are shown to be responses to modern life, revealed not in formally avant-garde depictions, but in the subject-matter. Industrial growth, the increasing population, expanding suburbs, and a renewed interest in the outdoor life and popular entertainment are reflected in Fleetwood-Walker’s artistic output. The role played by exhibition culture in the creation of the portraits is analysed: developing retail theory affected gallery design and exhibition layout and in turn impacted on the size, subject matter and style of Fleetwood-Walker’s portraits. Emerging, and soon dominant, tabloid newspapers shaped content and language to attract readers, influencing the articulation of the reception of the artist’s work. This thesis also makes a contribution to the regional perspective, demonstrating the temporary co-existence of multiple, heterogeneous, modern art worlds. Throughout the thesis the relevance of economic factors is emphasised, reappraising the Marxist theory of modern art and concluding that a more complex economic description is required to provide a sensitive and insightful analysis of art history.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration
N Fine Arts > ND Painting


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