Academic Art and the Twentieth Century: The Royal Academy of Arts 1910-1951

Yordanov, Vassil (2019) Academic Art and the Twentieth Century: The Royal Academy of Arts 1910-1951. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis examines the art shown at the Royal Academy of Arts in London between 1910 and
1951. It attempts to demonstrate that this often neglected body of works was a highly
prominent element of British visual culture of the time and was often seen to meet the social
needs of the twentieth century. While most studies of this period concentrate on the
modernist movements the Academy is equally deserving of attention: its annual Summer
Exhibitions were the most popular shows of contemporary art and were widely reviewed in
the press. This study explains why academic painting and sculpture were thought to be
important phenomena and how they were perceived by their makers, the critics and gallerygoers.
Academic art is examined by considering the aesthetic concepts and artistic genres
that were most prominent in the critical discourses surrounding Burlington House. The first
chapter explores the functions performed by naturalism, the artistic approach that was seen
to define academic culture. The second chapter treats the importance of formalism, a concept
that is now usually associated with modernism but played an equally important role at the
Summer Exhibitions. The third chapter shows how and why landscape and portraiture became
the dominant academic genres of the first half of the twentieth century and also explains the
decline of narrative painting. The fourth chapter demonstrates that modernist art itself often
engaged with the Academy, either by criticising it or by claiming it could perform some of its
traditional functions. Academic art was still impossible to ignore in this period and this thesis
attempts to show what scholars can learn from its continuing importance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art History and World Art Studies
Depositing User: Stacey Armes
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2019 17:02
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2019 17:02

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