Past Exhibitions / A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections

December 18, 2008 - April 5, 2009

A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections examined the American reception of the art produced between 1910 and the 1970s by the Bloomsbury artists and their associates and collaborators.  The exhibition was organized to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the beginnings of the Bloomsbury group, a name once synonymous with wit, intelligence, political activism and avant-garde art and literature in the Anglo-American world.  “Bloomsbury,” named for a then slightly unfashionable neighborhood surrounding the University of London, was centered on writers such as Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey and Clive Bell; economist John Maynard Keynes; artists Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant and Dora Carrington; and other notable personalities who circulated in their orbit, including E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence, Bertrand Russell and Wyndham Lewis. The exhibition included paintings, works on paper, decorative arts and book arts borrowed from public and private collections throughout the United States, and focused on how this small group of artists made its imprint on the cultural thinking of their day.

To complement the exhibition, Duke organized a campus-wide yearlong program, ”Vision and Design: A Year of Bloomsbury,” which included panel discussions, theatrical performances, a film series, an online book chat, a “Duke in Depth” symposium and a related exhibition at Duke Library’s Perkins Gallery.

A related exhibition was also on view at Perkins Library, “How full of life those days seemed: New Approaches to Art, Literature, Sexuality, and Society in Bloomsbury.

The exhibition was organized by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, in conjunction with the Nasher Museum. The exhibition premiered at the Nasher Museum, then traveled to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell; the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill; the Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; the Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, CA; and the Palmer Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

A Room of Their Own was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. At the Nasher Museum, the exhibition and related programs were sponsored by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the Duke University Provost’s Common Fund, the Graduate Liberal Studies program of Duke University, the Wachovia Foundation and the Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation, Inc.

Additional support for Bloomsbury-related programming was received from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Duke University Alumni Association, the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies, the Office for International Affairs, the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, the Women Studies Program and the Program in the Study of Sexualities, the Center for International Studies, the Economics Department, the Center for the History of Political Economy, and the Graduate Liberal Studies Program.

TOP: Duncan Grant, Helen Anrep at Charleston, 1942. Oil on canvas, 16 x 32 inches. Image courtesy of private collection.