Business papers of the 7 & 5 Society

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The 7 & 5 Society was formed in 1919 as an alternative to the London Group, with the aim of encouraging individual members to develop freely in their own way. This collection consists of a minute book, as well as rules, circulars, voting papers and correspondence relating to the business of the Society. The material spans a twenty year period, although the majority of it dates from 1934-5 when John Piper was the Honorary Secretary.

Administrative / Biographical History

The 7 & 5 Society was formed in 1919, and held its first exhibition at Walker's Art Galleries in April 1920. The catalogue of this exhibition contained a brief manifesto of which laid out the Society's modest aims, including to exhibit without regard for theory or genre - the catalogue proclaimed "Individual members have their own theories of Art, but as a group the 'Seven and Five' has none." The name referred to the original intention of having a nucleus of seven painters and five sculptors.

The membership of the group was kept from becoming torpid through a system of re-election every three years, which changed to annual re-election in 1931. The most enduring founder member was Ivon Hitchens. Other long term members included PH Jowett, David Jones, Ben and Winifred Nicholson and Claude Flight.

Initially timid and conservative, during the 1920s the society adopted a more progressive attitude, largely due to new members such as Ben Nicholson who joined in 1924 and became Chairman in 1926. Nicholson's influence reformed the Society and made it the only significant group in the 1920s as they moved towards abstraction. Between 1926 and 1930 the Society added to its membership Jessica Dismoor, Christopher Wood, Cedric Morris and Frances Hodgkins. Works by Alfred Wallis were also included in the 1929 exhibition.

The Society's most dynamic era began in 1931 with four exhibitions at the Leicester Galleries. However, in 1934 Nicholson precipitated the end of the group by attempting to change the nature of the Society to one where only non-representational works were exhibited. He even wanted the Society to be renamed the '7 & 5 Abstract Group'. This led to a number of members resigning whilst others were denied re-election by a group surrounding Nicholson.

The Society held its last show at Zwemmers in 1935. It was described as the first all-abstract exhibition in England, and was dominated by the work of Nicholson, Barbara Hepworh and Henry Moore. After this the membership reduced to ten and the Society disbanded.

7 & 5 Society Exhibitions:

12 Apr-1 May 1920 Walkers Galleries

1-30 Jun 1921 Gieves Gallery

20 Nov-9 Dec 1922 Walkers Galleries

26 Nov-22 Dec 1923 Patersons

4-20 Dec 1924 Patersons

2-23 Jan 1926 The Beaux Arts Gallery

4-22 Jan 1927 The Beaux Arts Gallery

14 Feb-6 Mar 1928 The Beaux Arts Gallery

7-28 Mar 1929 Arthur Tooth and Sons

Jan 1931 Leicester Galleries

Feb 1932 Leicester Galleries

Feb 1933 Leicester Galleries

Mar 1934 Leicester Galleries

2-22 Oct 1935 Zwemmer Gallery

Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically.

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Other Finding Aids

Paper list available

Related Material

Letters to Andrew Wilson relating to his research for his thesis on the 7 & 5 Society (TGA 869) and catalogues for all 7 & 5 Society exhibitions held in the Tate Library.

Subjects

Corporate Names