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A History of Artists' Film and Video in Britain (Paperback)


by David Curtis

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In recent years the use of film and video by British artists has come to widespread public attention. Jeremy Deller, Douglas Gordon, Steve McQueen and Gillian Wearing all won the Turner Prize (in 2004, 1996, 1999 and 1997 respectively) for work made on video. This fin-de-siècle explosion of activity represents the culmination of a long history of work by less well-known artists and experimental filmmakers.

Ever since the invention of film in the 1890s, artists have been attracted to the possibilities of working with moving images, whether in pursuit of visual poetry, the exploration of the art form's technical challenges, the hope of political impact or the desire to reinvigorate such time-honoured subjects as portraiture and landscape. Their work represents an alternative history to that of commercial cinema in Britain – a tradition that has been only intermittently written about until now.

This major new book is the first comprehensive history of artists' film and video in Britain. Structured in two parts ('Institutions' and 'Artists and Movements'), it considers the work of some 300 artists. Written by the leading authority in the field, A History of Artists' Film and Video in Britain, brings to light the range and diversity of British artists' work in these mediums as well as the artist-run organisations that have supported the art form's development. In so doing it greatly enlarges the scope of any understanding of 'British cinema' and demonstrates the crucial importance of the moving image to British art history.

Winner of the 2008 Kraszna-Krausz Award for the Best Moving Image Book. 

Author Biography: David Curtis is Senior Research Fellow at the AHRB British Artists' Film & Video Study Collection, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. From 1977 to 2000 he was responsible for artists' film at the Arts Council of Great Britain. In 2003-4 he curated Tate Britain's largest-ever show of artists' film and video, A Century of Artists' Film in Britain. He was involved in the London Filmmakers' Co-op in the late 1960s and ran the cinema at both the Drury Lane and Robert Street (IRAT) Arts Laboratories. His book Experimental Cinema (1970) was one of the first books to survey the international film avant-garde.

Table of contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
    • Artists / Economics
  • 1.1: Artists
    • The Film Society / Little Magazines / Internationalism and Festivals / Schooling Artists / The London Filmmakers Co-op / Into the Gallery / Video as Video / The 1990s
  • 1.2: Institutions 
    • Sponsored Films / Museums and Collections / Post-War Recovery / Experimental Film Fund / The Arts Council / The BFI / Funders and Broadcasters
  • 2.1: Film and Fine Art
    • The Camera / Landscape / Portrait / Still Life / Collage / Pop Art / Absurd / Psychedelic  / Sculptors' Films / Abstraction / Figurative Animation
  • 2.2: Narrative: Fiction, Documentary, Polemic
    • 'Studies in Thought' / 1920s Amateurs / Grierson's Avant-Garde / War / Post-War Revival / Free Cinema / Ambitious Narrative / Work / The Production of Meaning / Image and Voice
  • 2.3: Expanded Cinema and Video Art
    • Film as Film / Conceptual Art and Early Installations / Video Art and Television / Expanded Cinema / Other Structures / Gidal's Legacy / Later Installations
  • 2.4: Politics and Identity
    • Sexual Liberation? / Feminism / New Romantics / Identity / The Body / Social Space
  • Conclusion
  • Index
Additional Information
More Information
SKU 9781844570966
Author(s) Curtis, David
Publisher(s) BFI Publishing
Format Paperback
Original publication date 01/04/2006
Number of pages 320 pages with illustrations
BFICID_ID 200068047
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