And where should we find shelter
For joy or mere content
When little was left standing
But the suburb of dissent?
W.H Auden - We Too Had Known Golden Hours (1950)
In this lecture, Michael Bracewell will offer a consideration of cultural studies in relation to creative writing, belles lettres, contemporary art, pop, modern history and autobiography.
With specific reference to modern and contemporary visual arts, the lecture will chart the life, death and afterlife of a particular epoch, beginning in the mid 1950s, during which pop has developed, dominated and then atomized as a cultural informant – becoming both ubiquitous and vaporised.
Drawing on dreams, memoir, art history and cultural observation, the lecture aims to examine an existential relationship between writing, history and recent generational experience. It explores the nature of iconoclasm and romanticism in recent visual arts, notions of cultural connoisseurship, the reprisal of a Gothic sensibility and a subsequent, countering, re-invention of tradition.
Inspired in part by Rene Magritte’s ‘Lifeline’ lecture of 1938, ‘Germany Is Your America’ is an exercise in retrospective assessment, a particular account of an audit. As has been written of Magritte’s semi-autobiographical talk: “...it is by no means a transparent, straightforward or factual account, but rather one in which the fictional and non-fictional are continuously entangled, in the artist’s effort to project a logical consistency onto the narrative of his own development…”
Michael Bracewell is the author of six novels and four works of non-fiction, including 'Pefect Tense' (2000) and 'England Is Mine' (1997). He now writes widely on modern and contemporary art, and his recent publications include:
'Richard Hamilton: Late Works' (National Gallery, London, 2012), Damien Hirst: 'Beautiful Inside My Head Forever' (Sotheby's, London 2008), Bridget Riley; Paintings and Related Work' (National Gallery, London, 2011), British Design 1948 – 2012 [as contributor] (Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2012), ‘Postmodernism’ (Victoria & Albert Museum Journal, 2011) and 'Gilbert & George: The Complete Postcard Art (2 vols)' (Prestel, 2011). He was co-curator of 'The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art' at Tate St Ives, UK (2009) and 'The Secret Public: Last Days of The British Underground 1978 -1988' (Kunstverein Munich/ICA London 2007). Michael Bracewell's selected writings on art 'The Space Between', (Edited by Doro Globus) were published by Ridinghouse, London in 2012.