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2055 Module Reading List

Variant Modernism, 2021/22, Semester 1
Dr Will Rea
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue


Variant Modernism Reading List 

Week 1. Introduction

Narrative histories of English art in the 20th century have tended to imply a succession of movements of varying 'modernity'. This module will examine certain key critical and historical moments in British Art of the Twentieth Century (for example, C Harrison, English Art and Modernism 1900-1939, 1981; H Read, Contemporary British Art, 1951; 1964). The historical span of the course intends to work from c.1912 through to the 1960s.

It aims to place the making of work into relation with developments in Twentieth century British cultural thought as this has responded to the historical events of this period. As such the course aims to offer an introduction to some of the key moments and makers of British Art in the twentieth century, but to align these movements with particular themes in British life. To this end the course will also examine the moves in the way in which culture has been regarded through the twentieth century as a matter of policy. Essentially, as the course develops the move is from a view of Culture based upon that described by Thomas Arnold to one that is more closely integrated with political policy.

At the same time it will focus on the important collections of paintings, drawings and sculpture at Leeds City Art Gallery and the University, using these as principal alternative archives. It will introduce artistic movements as they have arisen at different historical moments, as well as their ideological bases.

Principle reading

Harrison, Charles, English Art and Modernism 1900-1939 (New Haven ; London: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1994)  

Corbett, David Peters, & Perry, Lara, ed., English Art 1860-1914: Modern Artists and Identity (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000) —— Many good chapters  

Read, Herbert, Contemporary British Art (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1951)

Corbett, David Peters, The Modernity of English Art, 1914-30 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997)

Hewison, Robert, Culture and Consensus: England, Art and Politics since 1940 (London: Methuen, 1997)

Rothenstein, John, Modern English Painters (London: Macdonald and Jane's, 1976) —— a somewhat synthetic but useful introduction

British art in the Twentieth Century Royal academy of Arts catalogue 1986

Spalding, Frances, British Art since 1900 (London: Thames & Hudson, c1986)

Art history Special Issue: British Art and the Cultural Field, 1939–69 Edited by Lisa Tickner and David Peters Corbett April 2012 Volume 35, Issue 2 Pages 200–461

Week One essential

Raymond Williams – When was modernism? In Williams, Raymond, The Politics of Modernism : Against the New Conformists, ed. and intro. by Tony Pinkney (London: Verso, 1989)    Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

Week 2. The attempted modernity of English Art: Vorticism and the idea of modernity

Corbett, David Peters, The Modernity of English Art, 1914-30 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997) —— Chapter One    OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (IK 17/10/2019) 

Tickner, Lisa, Modern Life & Modern Subjects : British Art in the Early Twentieth Century (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2000) ——  see chapter one on Walter Sickert and Chapter three on Wyndham Lewis.   OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (IK 17/10/2019) 

Cork, Richard, Vorticism and Abstract Art in the First Machine Age (Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, c1976)

Loss, Archie, ‘Vile Bodies, Vorticism, and Italian Futurism’, Journal of Modern Literature, 18, No. 1 (Winter 1992), pp. 155-164

Steele, Tom, Alfred Orage and the Leeds Arts Club, 1893-1923 (Aldershot: Scolar, 1990) —— check out the library entries to Leeds Arts Club – a list of catalogues is held in Special Collections

Tuma, Keith, ‘Wyndham Lewis Blast and Popular Culture’, ELH, 54, No. 2 (Summer 1987), pp. 403-419

The issue of Modernism/modernity 1997 4/2 is devoted to Wyndham Lewis  

Week 3. Before and after WWI


Gardiner, Stephen, Epstein: Artist against the Establishment (London: Joseph, 1992)

Cork, Richard, Jacob Epstein (London: Tate Gallery Publishing, 1999)

Cronshaw, Jonathan Lee, ‘Carving a legacy: the identity of Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)’ (doctoral thesis, University of Leeds, 2010) Available online

Conflict and consolation

Malvern, Sue, ‘”War as it is”: The art of Muirhead Bone, C. R. W. Nevinson and Paul Nash 1916-17’, Art History 9 (December 1986).    Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

Malvern, Sue, Modern art, Britain and the Great War: Witnessing, Testimony and Remembrance (New Haven, Conn.; London: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, c2004)

Malvern, Sue, ‘War Tourisms: “Englishness”, Art and the First World War’, Oxford Art Journal, 24, No. 1 (2001), pp. 47-66

Cole, Roger, Gaudier Brzeska: Artist and Myth (Bristol: Sansom, 1995)

Cork, Richard, A Bitter Truth : Avant-garde Art and the Great War (New Haven; London: Yale University Press in association with Barbican Art Gallery, 1994)

Cork, Richard, Art beyond the Gallery in Early 20th Century England (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1985)

Walsh, Michael J. K., C.R.W. Nevinson: This Cult of Violence (New Haven, Conn., London: Yale University Press, 2002)

Week 4. The triumph of Bloomsbury and its alternates 

Fry, Roger Eliot, Vision and Design (London: Chatto and Windus, 1928)

Nicholson, Virginia, Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939 (London: Viking, 2002) —— Bloomsbury Rooms Modernism subculture and domesticity

Shone, Richard, The Art of Bloomsbury: Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant (London : Tate Gallery Pub., 1999)  

Kuper, Adam, Incest and Influence: The Private Life of Bourgeois England (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009)

McLaughlin, Thomas M., ‘Clive Bell's Aesthetic: Tradition and Significant Form’ The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 35, No. 4 (Summer 1977), pp. 433-443

Corbett, David Peters, The Modernity of English Art, 1914-30 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997) —— Chapter Two

Manson, David, Jacob Kramer: Creativity and Loss (Bristol: Sansom, 2006)

MacDougall, Sarah, Mark Gertler (London: John Murray, 2002)

Week 5. The city as a site of the modern? Camden town and Euston Road

Laughton, Bruce, The Euston Road School: A Study in Objective Painting (Aldershot: Scolar, 1986)

Corbett, David Peters, The Modernity of English Art, 1914-30 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997) —— Chapter Three    OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (IK 17/10/2019) 

Cork, Richard, ‘Machine Age, Apocalypse and Renewal’ in British art of the Twentieth Century (Royal Academy, London, 1986), pp.63-72

Causey, Andrew. Edward Burra: Complete Catalogue (Oxford: Phaidon, 1985)

Coldstream, William, William Coldstream (London : Arts Council, 1962)

Gowing, Lawrence, The Paintings of William Coldstream 1908-1987 (London: Tate Gallery, 1990)

Week 7. The 1930s: Gender, Body and Politics


Morris, Lynda, AIA: The story of the Artists International Association, 1933-1953 (Oxford, [Eng.]: Museum of Modern Art, 1983)  

Radford, Robert, Art for a Purpose: the Artists' International Association, 1933-1953 (Winchester : Winchester School of Art Press, 1987)


Carolyn Trant Voyaging Out (London: Thames and Hudson, 2019)  

Deepwell, Katy, Women Artists Between the Wars (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010)

Ten Decades: Careers of Ten Women Artists Born, 1897-1906, curated by Katy Deepwell (Norwich: Norwich Gallery, c1992)

Jenkins, David Fraser, & Tickner, Lisa, Gwen John and Augustus John (London: Tate Publishing, 2004)


There are numerous books on Henry Moore and Hepworth, the most important are:

Curtis, Penelope, Barbara Hepworth (London: Tate Gallery, c1998), revised in 2013  

Read, Herbert, Henry Moore: A study of His Life and Work (London: Thames & Hudson, c1965)

Beckett, Jane & Russell, Fiona. Henry Moore: Space, Sculpture, Politics (Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2003

Causey, Andrew, Sculpture Since 1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)  

Modern British Sculpture , curated by Penelope Curtis and Keith Wilson (London : Royal Academy of Arts, 2011)

Week 8. Country (right and wrong) The second World War II Landscape

Mellor, David, A Paradise Lost: The Neo-Romantic Imagination in Britain 1935-1955 (London: Lund Humphries 1987) —— numerous good short essays.  

Harris, Alexandra, Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper (London: Thames & Hudson, 2010)

Haycock, David, Paul Nash (London: Tate Publishing, 2002)


Week 9. Post war reconstruction – the new towns of England (art and policy)

Gibberd, Frederick, Harlow: The Story of a New Town (Stevenage: Publications for Companies, 1980)

Sinclair, Andrew, Arts and Cultures: the History of the 50 years of the Arts Council of Great Britain (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995)  

Weingärtner, Jörn, The Arts as A Weapon of War: Britain and the Shaping of National Morale in the Second World War (London: I.B. Tauris, 2006)  

Atkinson, Harriet, The Festival of Britain: A Land and Its People (London; New York: I.B.Tauris & Co.; New York: Distributed in the United States by Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) 

Hewison, Robert, Culture and Consensus: England, Art and Politics since 1940 (London : Methuen, 1997)

Curtis, Penelope, Barbara Hepworth (London: Tate Gallery, c1998), revised in 2013

Week 10. The Geometry of Fear

Hulks, David, 'Dispair or Defiance: The Double Inflection in Herbert Read's Geometry of Fear' in Rereading Read: New Views on Herbert Read, ed. by Michael Paraskos (London: Freedom Press, 2007)   Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

Garlake, Margaret, ‘Identifying the Geometry of Fear’ in Henry Moore and the Geometry of Fear (London: James Hyman Fine Art Ltd., c2002)    OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (IK 17/10/2019) 

Exhibition catalogue: 'Exorcising the Fear' held at the Pangolin Gallery from 11th January to the 3rd March 2012. Pdf downloaded from gallery website   

Leaflet from the Arts Council on the Geometry of Fear. Downloaded from the following website

This list was last updated on 25/09/2019