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The Life of Bryan

A Celebration of Bryan Robertson

Bryan Robertson (1925–2002) was the greatest director the Tate Gallery in London never had. In 1952, at the age of twenty-seven and against formidable competition, which included David Sylvester and Lawrence Gowing, he became director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London. Robertson held this post until 1969, transforming the gallery into a beacon of new artists and their voices. While there, he effected a revolution in the British museum world, bringing the more innovative and radical American and European contemporary artists to the United Kingdom and programming a series of exhibitions devoted to British artists in mid-career. He was the first to show Pollock, Rothko, Rauschenberg, and Johns in England, and matched this with historical re-evaluations of Turner, Stubbs, Bellotto, and Rowlandson. He showed European artists Piet Mondrian, Germaine de Stäel, Malevich, and Poliakoff, and English artists included Barbara Hepworth, Alan Davie, Ceri Richards, and Keith Vaughan. Among younger painters and sculptors, he identified the New Generation of Caro, Hoyland, Riley, Jones, and Caulfield, and he stage-managed a flow of exhibitions that transformed the Whitechapel into a highly sought-after gallery.
The book is an exploration of this influential curator’s life as witnessed through his friends and contemporaries and in excerpts from his own written works. A tribute to a man of vision and flair, The Life of Bryan celebrates Bryan Robertson’s lasting influence over the way we look at and think about art.

320 pages | 36 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4



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"A rounded and revelatory portrait of this hugely important figure. . . . Much of this book is comprised of the fascinating recollections and insights of Lambirth’s many interviewees and correspondents from the worlds of art and culture that Robertson inhabited. They are combined with the author’s own contextual interpolations, and selected examples of Robertson’s writings on art. Altogether, this much-needed volume presents an engrossing picture of a brilliant maverick: a man by turns immensely generous, hilariously funny and wildly infuriating."

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