Viscount (Jack) Hastings, The Worker of the Future 1935
Viscount (Jack) Hastings
The Worker of the Future 1935
Marx Memorial Library, London

Exchanges between British and American artists in the years 1880–1980 are the theme of this issue, which includes explorations of the effects of transatlanticism on English artists’ support for socially engaged mural painting in the 1930s, on David Hockney’s early autobiographical prints, and on the work of conceptual art collective Art & Language. Shifting attitudes towards British and American artists are discussed in relation to critics’ responses to John Singer Sargent and the writings of David Sylvester, while other articles look at the aesthetic impact of transatlantic travel on the art of Joseph Pennell and William Johnstone, and the influence of American psychology on photographer Peter Henry Emerson’s theories of naturalism.

Edited by Professor Martin Hammer and Professor David Peters Corbett

Contents

Kevin Brazil

This essay looks at the role of transatlanticism in the early work of the conceptual art collective Art & Language, arguing that it imagined and questioned the transatlantic as a virtual place in which a cosmopolitan mode of art could be created.

James Finch

David Sylvester’s criticism from the 1950s and 1960s combined enthusiasm for the vitality of new American art with ambivalence about its influence on British artists. This essay investigates Sylvester’s complex attitude towards American art through his writing, broadcasting and artist interviews.

Carl Fuldner

British photographer Peter Henry Emerson’s dramatic recantation of his beliefs about photography and art forms a canonical yet perplexing episode in the modernist history of photography. This article explores Emerson’s interest in evolutionary psychology, revealing how his crisis of confidence, along with his later efforts to rework his ideas about naturalism and photography, were influenced by the American psychologist and philosopher William James.

Martin Hammer

David Hockney’s early autobiographical prints, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean 1961 and the series A Rake’s Progress 1961–3, are examined in relation to contemporary developments in American art and literature, the artist’s affinities with his British modernist contemporaries and predecessors, and other aspects of his emerging sense of artistic and sexual identity.

Jody Patterson

This article explores English artists’ support for socially engaged public mural painting during the 1930s in relation to international developments, particularly those in the United States.

Margaret J. Schmitz

American printmaker Joseph Pennell’s iconic New York imagery is the focus of this article, including an exploration of his efforts to find an appropriate aesthetic language for Manhattan’s unparalleled new skyscrapers in light of his experience as a transatlantic artist.

Andrew Stephenson

This article examines how John Singer Sargent’s American nationality, his Anglo-American expatriate experience and his works’ cosmopolitanism coloured the views of British and American art writers. Notwithstanding his great success as a painter, these writers remained conflicted about the nature of his cosmopolitan sensibility throughout his life and afterwards.

Beth Williamson

Scottish artist William Johnstone lived and worked in America for periods in the 1920s and 1940s, encountering a very different landscape to that he had grown up with in the Scottish Borders. This article investigates how Johnstone’s landscape paintings might be understood firstly as abstracted from nature and the Scottish landscape to which he felt so connected, and secondly in dialogue with the American landscape and culture he experienced during his visits.