Sylvia Sleigh Alloway Portrait of Lawrence Alloway 1965
Sylvia Sleigh Alloway
Portrait of Lawrence Alloway 1965
Oil paint on canvas
61 x 50.8 cm

British-born Lawrence Alloway (1926–1990) was a leading member of the Independent Group in the 1950s before moving in 1961 to the United States where he became an influential curator and critic. Read about Alloway’s life and legacy in this issue, together with a report about learning initiatives associated with the ARTIST ROOMS collection, based on the conference Interpretation, Theory & the Encounter held at Tate Britain on 9 July 2010.


Courtney J. Martin

The British critic Lawrence Alloway (1926–1990) generated a new vocabulary for American art of the 1960s and 1970s. This paper discussed his use of such terms as ‘system’, ‘network’ and ‘art world’, which remain in the lexicon of contemporary art.

Stephen Moonie

Lawrence Alloway claimed that the art critic should avoid explicit value judgements and instead provide information. This paper historicises Alloway’s approach and examines his adoption of information theory. More broadly, it suggests that reconsideration of Alloway is pertinent to contemporary debates on the condition of art criticism.

Julian Myers

This essay offers a history and critical evaluation of ideas put forward by the critic Lawrence Alloway in the late 1950s, from which he developed from the discussions of the Independent Group. In particular, it interrogates the claims of his 1959 article The Long Front of Culture.

Shelley Rice

The mobility of art was a concept central to British critic Lawrence Alloway’s understanding of the role of visual imagery in contemporary life. Once photography became established as an art form, the definition of that mobility expanded significantly. The current high visibility of the medium is an opportunity to re-examine the diverse cultural contexts of visual signs and their users.

Peter Stanfield

The uncertain relationship between art and industry was at the heart of the questions Lawrence Alloway had been asking about film since the late 1950s. The contradiction between film as a manufactured, standardised product, and film as an art form and practice underpinned the terms of his enquiry, leading him to conceive of popular film as a compound art, drawn from and comprised of other industrial art forms.

Eric M. Stryker

This essay plots the shared intellectual concerns of the critic Lawrence Alloway and the artist Eduardo Paolozzi, focusing on their mutual interest in the fusion of popular culture and fine art, the relationship between the individual and the post-war urban environment, and the notion of analogical feedback developed from the emerging science of cybernetics.

Reports and strategies

Christopher Ganley

This report describes and evaluates the ARTIST ROOMS learning initiatives launched in 2009–10 at Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland, as well as at several regional museums and galleries