Monday, 6 January 2014

Review of Uproar! The First 50 Years of the London Group 1913-1963 at Ben Uri Museum and Gallery

Uproar! The First 50 Years of the London Group 1913-1963
Ben Uri Museum and Gallery
31 October 2013 – 2 March 2014

When Mark Gertler exhibited The Creation of Eve (1914) at the London Group’s third show in 1915, he was as shocked by the reaction of the public as they apparently were by his painting. The press accused him of “calculated and unpleasant sensationalism”[i], “deliberate eccentricity”[ii] and “impertinence, with a seasoning of blasphemy”[iii]. Looking at the work today, it is hard to imagine how it might have engendered such a frenzied and uproarious response, but such was the mood prevailing in the early decades of the last century. The London Group itself was set up in opposition to the art establishment, from the start being billed as the alternative not only to the Royal Academy but to the reigning anti-establishment exhibiting society, the New English Art Club (NEAC). Jacob Epstein is credited with having coined the name at a meeting held on 15 November 1913, and it was considered an appropriately all-encompassing moniker, in contrast to such locally named groups as the Fitzroy Street Group and the Camden Town Group.

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