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Child, D., 2023.

A Question of Class: Marxist Art History in the UK

Output Type:Conference paper
Presented at:(De)Politicising Art Studies. Marxist Traditions since 1968
Venue:Technical University Berlin
Dates:10/11/2023 - 11/11/2023

In this paper I will explore the development of a Marxist art history (aligned with what was termed 'new art history') within the UK in relation to social class. In the 1960s and 70s, fundamental changes in access to education, the radicalisation of art schools and an expanded, inclusive idea of culture paved the way for new approaches to art history to develop and later become established in the UK.
This paper argues that changing positions on class were central to the adoption and adaptation of a new art history that had Marxist (and associated class-based analysis) influences. However, while shifts occurred in class-based analysis for those who drew on Marxist theory within the discipline, I will argue that a classed voice remained less visible within art history in the UK - and particularly since the establishment of neoliberalism - with some exceptions. The final part of this paper will focus on how class has been made visible by Marxist art historians in the UK largely through a focus on the economic in studying the history of art, including in my own historical material approach.