Art in Focus: St Ives Abstraction

Curated by Yale undergraduate students, this exhibition explored the work of artists living in St Ives, Cornwall, during the twentieth century. With its striking coastal landscape, St Ives inspired and influenced the artists who visited and made it their home. These artists played a key role in defining British abstraction and landscape painting in the mid-twentieth century. Despite their remote place of residence, the artists maintained and cultivated links with international artistic networks.

Drawing on the Center’s remarkable collections of paintings and sculptures by St Ives artists, the students investigated the concept of abstraction and its connections to landscape painting, the influence of World War II on artistic expression, and the artistic implications of living and working in a colony away from large urban centers. A total of nineteen works were on display by ten artists including Trevor Bell, Sandra Blow, Terry Frost, Barbara Hepworth, Patrick Heron, Roger Hilton, Peter Lanyon, John Minton, Ben Nicholson, and John Wells.

This exhibition marked the seventh year of Art in Focus, an academic initiative for members of the Student Guide Program of the Yale Center for British Art. Introduced to every aspect of exhibition practice, the students intensify their engagement with the Center’s collections, strengthen their research skills, and practice writing in new formats. Student curators select objects for exhibition, write text panels and object labels, and make decisions about installation under the mentorship of Center curators and staff.

Exhibition brochure

An illustrated booklet, including descriptive text and a list of objects on display, accompanied the exhibition.

View works from the collection included in this exhibition here.


Art in Focus: St Ives Abstraction was curated by Daniel Roza (SM ’15), Kathryn Kaelin (SY ’15), Alexander Shaheen (TC ’13), Hannah Flato (DC ’14), and Juliana Biondo (ES ’13). Cassius Clay (BK ’13) provided editorial support. In researching and presenting the exhibition, the students were led by Linda Friedlaender, Curator of Education, and Jaime Ursic, Assistant Curator of Education, with curatorial guidance from Imogen Hart, Assistant Curator of Exhibitions and Publications; Rosie Ibbotson, Postdoctoral Research Associate; and Cassandra Albinson, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture.

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Art in Focus: St Ives Abstraction installation, Yale Center for British Art, photo by Richard Caspole