The School of London is a twentieth-century art movement that evolved over a
period of some forty years. Those constituting the School concentrated their
attention and their artistic efforts on the human figure and the environment in which
they depicted it -- the associated cityscape, landscape or studio setting. Today,
School of London artists are considered among the world's most important active
The movement emerged in the 1940s when Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud
rebelled against generally accepted art world norms by centering their interest on
the human body. R. B. Kitaj, one of the movement's adherents, coined the name
School of London in 1976. He intended the title as an affectionate tribute to the
many artists with such different emotional awarenesses who shared the almost
obsessive fixation with the human form.
Freud and Bacon, the School's 'founding fathers,' fashioned a profound influence on
many of the era's younger, art-school trained visual artists. In the following decade
Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, and Leon Kossoff began to exhibit regularly.
The 1960s introduced three of the School's most gifted members: Peter Blake,
David Hockey, and R. B. Kitaj. Euan Uglow and John Wonnacott became London
School voices in the 1970s. Tony Bevan and Paula Rego assumed prominence in
the 1980s. The School of London evolution continued in the century's final decade
with the advent of such artists as Peter Doig and Antony Williams.
During the past decade, important exhibitions in Britain and Continental Europe
have been devoted to the School of London; however, this is the first major United
States exhibition to focus on School of London developments. It is a timely
reminder that Europe continues to be a seat of quality, significant art and influences
even during periods of American dominance in painting and sculpture.
The Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT organized the exhibition that
features over seventy works from the Merians' collection. Elaine and Melvin
Merians share a deep-seated belief in the significance of the School of London artists
and consider it their responsibility to make these artists better known throughout
the United States by promoting their accomplishments and credentials. Patrick
McCaughey, Director of the Yale Center for British Art, states, To my knowledge,
no other private collection of its kind exists on either side of the Atlantic, and no
public art museum besides Tate Britain could muster comparable holdings.
Redheaded Man No. 2, 1962