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Eileen Agar

Iwona Blazwick, Whitechapel Gallery director, profiles overlooked Surrealist Eileen Agar, asking why she hasn't received the same lasting celebration as her male contemporaries.

Iwona Blazwick, director of Whitechapel Gallery in London, launches a new series exploring overlooked visual artists from the 20th century. Art history has been written from a white, Western male perspective. What would an alternative canon look like?

Eileen Agar was a photographer, collagist, painter and sculptor. One of the few women to be included in London's 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition, next to Picasso and Ernst, she became an overnight sensation and honorary member of the British Surrealists. However she has not received the same lasting celebration as many of her male Surrealist contemporaries.

Contributors include Tony Penrose (director of the Lee Miller Archive and the Penrose Collection), contemporary visual artist Anj Smith and Matthew Bradbury (Director of Modern British and Irish Art at Bonham's). With archive recordings of Eileen Agar from the British Library.

The series features artists selected by three curators from different backgrounds - Iwona Blazwick (Director of the Whitechapel Gallery), Hans Ulrich Obrist (Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries) and Naomi Beckwith (Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago). Told broadly chronologically with inter-changing presenters, the series explores why these artists have been obscured and why some are now being reinstated into the 20th century artistic canon.

Presenter: Iwona Blazwick
Producer: Olivia Humphreys
Researcher: Jessie Lawson
Executive Producer: Joby Waldman
A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4

Image (c) The Estate of Eileen Agar, courtesy of Redfern Gallery, London.

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15 minutes

Last on

Tue 6 Mar 2018 00:30

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Role Contributor
Presenter Iwona Blazwick
Producer Olivia Humphreys


  • Mon 5 Mar 2018 09:45
  • Tue 6 Mar 2018 00:30