Administrative records of the London Group

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains the administrative records of the London Group, a broad-based exhibiting society. The collection contains the administrative records of the Group, some from its conception in 1913, but mainly dating from after the Second World War.

Administrative / Biographical History

The London Group emerged in 1913 out of an alliance between members of the Camden Town Group, such as Charles Ginner, Robert Bevan, Harold Gilman and Spencer Gore, and a number of artists from the new Futurist and Vorticist movements, including Wyndham Lewis, Jacob Epstein, William Roberts and David Bomberg. The name of the group was suggested by Jacob Epstein and was used in their first London exhibition at Goupil's, in 1914. The group, under the presidency of Harold Gilman, was a wide-ranging society, including male and female artists and both sculptors and painters. Exhibitions were held bi-annually and works for exhibition were decided by an elected hanging committee, with non-members encouraged to submit works as well from 1915. Following the upheavals of the First World War, and the changes in membership that this brought about, the group was broadened by the inclusion of members of the Bloomsbury Group and artists such as Frank Dobson, Paul Nash and Matthew Smith. Exhibitions continued to be held bi-annually, although they were now at the Mansard Gallery. The 1920s saw the presidencies of Bernard Adeney, Frank Dobson and Rupert Lee.

In the 1930s the London Group continued to be a successful platform, particularly for young artists, and in the late 1930s the group was notable for the involvement of the Euston Road painters such as William Coldstream and Victor Pasmore. During this decade the exhibitions moved to the New Burlington Galleries and the idea of an annual exhibition took shape. The London Group continued to exhibit during the war years, although they were unable to rely on a regular gallery. The group did not suffer the same changes in membership brought on by the First World War, however, there were some administrative difficulties. The group survived under the leadership of Elliott Seabrooke. After the war the group continued to be at the forefront of the British art scene with the membership of pioneer abstract artists such as Victor Pasmore, and others who joined the group in the late 1940s.

The 1950s saw the resumption of a settled exhibition programme firstly at the New Burlington Galleries, and later at the Royal Society of British Artists Galleries. From 1952 until the late 1960s the group benefited from the presidency of Claude Rogers. The 1960s saw the continued success of the group as a hotbed for new talent and the longevity of the group was rewarded by a Jubilee Retrospective Exhibition at the Tate in 1964. Throughout the post-war period the group benefited from the sponsorship of Lord Sainsbury who provided administrative back up. This came to an end in the 1970s when the group faced further difficulties as the number of possible exhibition venues continued to decline. Under the successive leadership of Andrew Forge, Dorothy Mead, Neville Boden and Peter Donnelly the group found itself without a regular exhibition slot, and suffering from financial constraints. The group, however, continued through the 1970s and 1980s to provide its members with fairly regular exhibiting opportunities, with the help of Arts Council grants. Although its membership no longer contains the foremost artists of the day, its exhibitions continue to attract a large number of submissions from non-members, thus providing one of the very few opportunities for less well-known artists to exhibit at major London galleries.

Arrangement

The collection has been sorted into thirteen series, following the general pattern of the group's administrative activity. The series are as follows: TGA 7713/1 Constitution and rules, TGA 7713/2 Administration, TGA 7713/3 Finance, TGA 7713/4 Membership, TGA 7713/5 Exhibitions, TGA 7713/6 Exhibition catalogues, TGA 7713/7 Sales, TGA 7713/8 Photographs, TGA 7713/9 Posters, TGA 7713/10 Private view cards, TGA 7713/11 Presscuttings, TGA 7713/12 Miscellaneous correspondence, TGA 7713/13 Printed ephemera.

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Access to all registered researchers

Other Finding Aids

Paper list available.

Custodial History

Mainly presented to the Archive by Maurice Kestelman (for the London Group), December 1977. Further records were presented in 1983 and 1990.

Subjects