With contributions by John Akomfrah, Tim Batchelor, Sonia Boyce, Emma Chambers, T.J. Demos, Kodwo Eshun, Leyla Fakhr, Paul Goodwin, Nigel Goose, Karen Hearn, David Medalla, Lena Mohamed, Panikos Panayi and Wolfgang Tillmans.
This book offers a unique perspective on the history of British art, charting how it has been shaped by successive waves of migration. It cuts a swathe through five hundred years of history and traces not only the movement of artists themselves, but also the circulation of art and ideas, from the hugely influential arrival of Northern European artists such as Anthony van Dyke in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to the influence of Italy and the development of neoclassicism on eighteenth-century artists such as Benjamin West, and on to the broad cultural interchange of the Victorian era. James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent were two of many artists who moved between Britain, France and the United States in the nineteenth century. In the early twentieth century, David Bomberg and Mark Gertler were among the group of second-generation Jewish artists who played a considerable role in the establishment of British modernism. The rise of fascism in the 1930s, causing artists such as Oskar Kokoschka and Kurt Schwitters to flee to Britain, foreshadowed the explosion of a multicultural diaspora. Several generations of artists have since explored what it means to be both ‘black’ and ‘British’, and contemporary artists continue to investigate the meaning of identity today.
Generously illustrated, and including artist interviews and texts by leading curators and art critics, this illuminating book tells a previously hidden but vital story in the shaping of British art and culture.