fbpx

Retracing our steps: Creating a database of works

25 February 2016 By
John Piper, Dead Resort Kemptown, Brighton, East Sussex, 1939, oil on Canvas, 45.7 x 55.8 cm. Donated to Leeds Art Gallery by the Contemporary Art Society in 1941.
John Piper, Dead Resort Kemptown, Brighton, East Sussex, 1939, oil on Canvas, 45.7 x 55.8 cm. Donated to Leeds Art Gallery by the Contemporary Art Society in 1941.(c) Mrs Clarissa Lewis (daughter); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The Contemporary Art Society has been undertaking a major research project in which it has been retracing its rich history of acquisitions, bequests and gifts.

Active since 1910, the Society has presented over 8,000 artworks to museums across the UK and even the Commonwealth. Now in their second year of research, our CAS archivist has catalogued more than 2000 works up to shortly after the WWII and it is possible to record in our legacy a renewed vigorous interest for the arts, with museum and gallery membership growing from 300 pre-war to a staggering 1550 in 1947.

The project brings to light artistic development of seminal figures in British art history, including treasures such as Paul Nash’s Landscape from a Dream (1936-38) given to the Tate – which marks the culmination of Nash’s personal response to Surrealism – and John Piper’s Dead Resort (1939) for Leeds Art Gallery, a painting that even today feels very contemporary.

The first part of this project has been realised over two years with the generous support of private donors.