Whilst scholarship on post-war British art has seen significant expansion, prints and printmaking remain overlooked within the literature. At the same time, studies of British printmaking give limited attention to the period, which is characterised as something of a creative trough. Through this thesis I explore the proposition that prints and printmaking should not be seen simply as an adjunct to other art forms, considered within the history of post-war British art solely for completeness; rather specific features of printmaking, as it was understood within the wider ecology of visual art at that moment, mean that its study illuminates issues in the history, cultural history and art history of the period.
My inquiry considers the role played by prints in changing ideas about democratising access to art during the 1945 Attlee Government and the subsequent Conservative ascendancy. I am exploring how print images and ideas of democratisation can be related to changing understandings of art, modernity, national culture and national identity and the emergence of consumerism. My work gives particular attention to print series produced for the Festival of Britain in 1951 and the Coronation in 1953, and to the activities of the Miller’s Press in the late 1940s, the Lyons Lithographs, and the emergence of the St George’s press in the late 1950s, as a precursor (but also a contrast) to the ‘print boom’ of the next decade.
- Post-war British Art
- Prints and printmaking
- Modern British Art
- Art and the Middlebrow
- The art support network
- Critical cultures in twentieth-century Britain