Art historian, editor, curator and member of the artist collective Art & Language, Charles Harrison (1942–2009) was one of the leading figures of the British art world in the late 1960s and 1970s. Initially focusing on early twentieth century British art, in the late 1960s Harrison became deeply engaged with an international avant-garde that sought to redefine art, giving priority to concept, process and activity over the finished object. As Deputy Editor of the influential magazine Studio International, Harrison embraced the diverse movement as a crucial turning point in the history of modernism.
This display examines Harrison’s curatorial contribution to this new kind of art through his groundbreaking exhibitions: the London showing of When Attitudes Become Form 1969; Idea Structures 1970; July/August Exhibition 1970; The British Avant Garde 1971; and Art as Idea from England 1971. Material from Harrison’s archive reveals his collaborative and experimental approach to exhibition making. It also charts his changing role as curator, from scholarly historian to a figure absorbed in the conception, production and presentation of art beyond the gallery space. The display includes a selection of artworks by some of the British artists that Harrison championed in these exhibitions.
This Focus display is one of a series using material from the Tate Archive, and exploring exhibition culture in (and around) London.
This display has been devised by curator Helen Little.