British Painting '74

Hayward Gallery, 26 September -- 17 November 1974

By Hayward Gallery

Installation view: British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, 1974. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd (1974) by Hayward GalleryHayward Gallery

A Major Survey of British Painting 

British Painting ’74 was organised by the painter and critic Andrew Forge. It was the second in a series of group exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery that focused exclusively on contemporary art. Forge intended for the exhibition to ‘reflect, as far as possible, British painting’s own view of itself, and not just one man’s prejudice or predilection’. To ensure this was the case, he asked 24 painters to nominate ten artists each. The resulting list featured 125 painters – both emerging and established – among them Peter Blake, Patrick Caulfield and Bridget Riley. 

Private View Card for British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, Hayward Gallery, 1974, From the collection of: Hayward Gallery
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Short Exhibition Statement for British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, 1974, From the collection of: Hayward Gallery
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Letter to Artists Involved in British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery Letter to Artists Involved in British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, Hayward Gallery, 1973-08-28, From the collection of: Hayward Gallery
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List of Artists in British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, Hayward Gallery, 1974, From the collection of: Hayward Gallery
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Extended Exhibition Statement for British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, 1974-11-17, From the collection of: Hayward Gallery
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Introduction to British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, 1974 Introduction to British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, 1974, Hayward Gallery, 1974, From the collection of: Hayward Gallery
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Installation view: British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, 1974. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd (1974) by Hayward GalleryHayward Gallery

While many of the artists included in the exhibition had received major retrospectives, others were much less well-known.

Installation view: British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, 1974. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd (1974) by Hayward GalleryHayward Gallery

Richard Hamilton, one of the painters approached by Forge, approved of the selection process, stating that ‘The proposal seems like a good one to me, I have never been afraid of the kind of mess that a mixed show of this kind is likely to conjure up. It is more important to reveal activity than to demonstrate the sensibility of the selector.’

Installation view: British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, 1974. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd (1974) by Hayward GalleryHayward Gallery

Other artists, including Howard Hodgkin, also welcomed the opportunity to shape the exhibition.

Installation view: British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, 1974. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd (1974) by Hayward GalleryHayward Gallery

Thank You Letter to Artists Involved in British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery (1974) by Hayward GalleryHayward Gallery

British Painting ’74 was attended by 29,701 visitors. The Arts Council’s Norbert Lynton, commenting on the response to the exhibition, stated that ‘It obviously created a substantial stir. If some of the press comment was critical ... much of it was encouraging, and generally the effect was to bring more people to the exhibition than we have learned to expect when we show contemporary art.’

Press Cuttings for British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, 1974 (1974) by VariousHayward Gallery

A sample of press cuttings for British Painting 74.

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