Papers of the Artists International Association

Scope and Content

This collection of papers from the records of the Artists International Association (AIA) represents those kept by the Association itself throughout its period of operation, 1933-1971. It consists of a large amount of printed material in the form of circulars, exhibition catalogues, news sheets, bulletins, newsletters, prints, private view cards and press cuttings, together with manuscript material. The bulk of the material dates from after the Second World War as very few of the documents from the 1930s have survived.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Artists International Association was founded in 1933 by a small group of people led by Misha Black. Its membership quickly grew throughout the 1930s and 1940s (930 members by 1945) so that in 1947 it was able to acquire permanent premises in Lisle Street. It remained there until 1971 when the lease expired on the property and the society was dissolved. The organisation was run by a chairman and secretary with the help of a Central Committee of between 11 and 21 members. Supporting this were a number of sub-committees which had responsibility for particular areas of activity. The main sub-committees dealt with the following: the bulletin or newsletter, education, exhibitions, lectures, membership and recruitment, regional groups and social activities. In addition to these, special sub-committees were formed to deal with particular issues, for instance, the prints committee created in 1951 (TGA 7043/2/26), and were dissolved when no longer required. The activities of the association included the arranging of exhibitions, lectures, conferences and social gatherings, the formation of regional groups and the publication of a newsletter or bulletin. From 1950, the Society also ran a Picture Lending Library. This was given to the Camden Arts Trust in 1971. It also provided information and legal advice to artists, endeavoured to help artists in distress, for example, in Germany after the war (TGA 7043/2/13), and formed a club where artists could congregate. The importance of the AIA can be measured by the fact that few British artists working within the period 1933-1971 did not have some association with it.


The papers have been arranged in 27 series according to the type of material and the divisions into which the records of a gallery naturally fall. The series have been arranged in alphabetical order. Within each series the material has been arranged in chronological order except for: Lithographic Plates and Designs (TGA 7043/6); the Index of Artists (TGA 7043/10); Prints (TGA 7043/22); and Affiliated Groups (TGA 7043/26), which are arranged alphabetically. The original order of the papers has been preserved wherever possible. Thus, certain inconsistencies do appear in the alphabetical sequence. The exceptions to this are all posters and private view cards which have been moved from the original sequence and integrated into the Archive Poster and Library Ephemera Collections. A note of the original position of each item has been made in the list. Similarly, all exhibition catalogues, except those in the Index of Artists (TGA 7043/10), those catalogued with photographs (TGA 7043/14), and non AIA catalogues (TGA 7043/27), have been added to Exhibition Catalogues (TGA 7043/3). It should be noted that three previous lists had been made before this catalogue, so the original order of the papers may have been disturbed.

The collection has been arranged into the following series:

TGA 7043/1 Financial papers;

TGA 7043/2 Committee papers;

TGA 7043/3 Exhibition catalogues;

TGA 7043/4 Exhibition files;

TGA 7043/5 Gallery establishment and maintenance;

TGA 7043/6 Lithographic plates and designs;

TGA 7043/7 Membership applications;

TGA 7043/8 Election of full members;

TGA 7043/9 Membership enquiries;

TGA 7043/10 Index of Artists;

TGA 7043/11 Members register;

TGA 7043/12 Members resignation;

TGA 7043/13 Notebooks;

TGA 7043/14 Photographs;

TGA 7043/15 Picture hire;

TGA 7043/16 Press cuttings;

TGA 7043/17 Printed circulars;

TGA 7043/18 Printed constitutions;

TGA 7043/19 'News Sheet';

TGA 7043/20 'Bulletin';

TGA 7043/21 'Newsletter';

TGA 7043/22 Prints;

TGA 7043/23 Private view cards;

TGA 7043/24 Visitors' books;

TGA 7043/25 General correspondence;

TGA 7043/26 Affiliated groups;

TGA 7043/27 Miscellaneous material.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered readers

Custodial History

The papers were deposited in the Tate Gallery Archive on two seperate occasions. The first collection arrived in 1970 on long term loan, and it was not until August 1978 when the second part arrived that the archive was formally given to Tate. These two groups of papers have now been integrated and catalogued together.

Related Material

Papers relating to 'The Story of the Artists' International Association' (TGA 8410).


Corporate Names