Isabelle Mooney

Project Title: Ruin to Reconstruction: Post-War British Art in the Transnational Field

Until recent decades, studies of art in post-war Britain have often treated this body of work as belated, fixed within national schools, stylisations and ‘isms’. This field has been predominantly discussed within geographical frameworks and definitions of ‘Britishness’, and such frameworks have unfortunately caused the obscurity of artists who have not been placed within these stylistic or indeed, geographical, boundaries.  By contrast, a number of initiatives including the major 2010 conference ‘New Approaches to British Art 1939-1969’ have introduced unfamiliar framings and the use of new material from neglected archives to open an ongoing dialogue that addresses transnational histories and geographies. This research project proceeds from the conviction that post-war British art needs to be studied as part of this transnational cultural field. It seeks to prise British art of the post-war period away from a narrative that traces modernism alongside a distinct notion of ‘Britishness’, challenging previous historical claims that link nationalist ideologies with modernity. Alternatively, this project will explore how the language of modernism was not monolithic, but offered a transnational aesthetic that echoed notions of independence and de-colonisation, and how an engagement with abstract and formal experimentation facilitated this.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Art History

University: University of St Andrews

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