Refugee Art Dealers in London: New Artists, Networks and Approaches, 1933-1960
Kingston University, London
Year of enrolment: 2019
Art dealers who escaped Nazism to settle in the UK from 1933-1938 are conspicuous by their relative absence in the existing histories of modern art in Britain and exile studies. Appearing sporadically in artist’s narratives and gallery histories, they take centre stage only in their own writings and memoirs.
My research breaks new ground by focusing specifically on art dealers (rather than artists) and expands exile studies - predominantly focused on German-speakers émigrés – to include significant figures from eastern European countries. This much needed and timely research intersects with current academic and museological ambitions to uncover networks and infrastructures that have supported famous and lesser-known artists and exile and diasporic studies, and has particular significance for contemporary understanding of the contribution of émigrés to British culture. Without such rigorous academic enquiry it is impossible to know, for example, whether Francis Bacon would have risen to fame without Erica Brausen’s unstinting support; if Josef Herman would be known today without Roland, Browse & Delbanco’s exhibitions; or if L.S. Lowry’s stick figure scenes would be recognisable to wide audiences without Andras Kalman’s friendship.
Through analysis of archival and collection materials at the Ben Uri and other holdings in the UK, Germany and Austria, this innovative study will establish the specific contribution of émigré art dealers, including key male and female figures such as Gustav Delbanco and Henry Roland, Harry Fisher and Frank Lloyd, Jack Bilbo, Kalman, Herbert Bier, William Ohly, Alfred Flechtheim, the Gimpel brothers, and Brausen, Annely Juda, Lea Bondi Jaray, Halima Nalecz and Monika Kinley. Outcomes will be a written thesis, an online resource of oral history interviews highlighting the value of “intangible” history in archival and academic study, and an exhibition focusing on émigré art dealers contribution to modern British artists’ careers for diverse public audiences.