Remember the days when letters were handwritten or typewritten with copies on thin paper? No email, no computers, no digitisation… and drawings were done with that old-fashioned thing called ink and pens. And, when putting on a major retrospective exhibition of a major international artist would cost less than £2,000? What would it cost today?
In 1958, the Whitechapel Gallery, which had built a reputation for bringing the best of modern international art to London, held an exhibition on the work of Jackson Pollock in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art in New York. At the time Pollock was new to London audiences and the Tate did not own a work by him, but the Trustees did seek to purchase three from the exhibition, at a total cost of £12,000. What a bargain!
60 years later, the Whitechapel has brought correspondence and other material out of the archives, including drawings and photographs of the exhibition designed by the British modernist architect Trevor Dannatt, displayed alongside Pollock’s ‘Summertime: No 9A’ which was on show at the exhibition and the Tate acquired 30 years later, in 1988.
A fascinating exhibition, and the designs look so dated now. It is rumoured that the American programme to support exhibitions of American art abroad was funded by the CIA as a way of spreading American influence abroad. If true, how enterprising of them – please Donald Trump persuade them to do this today…