Head of Art History, Dr Ben Thomas, publishes new book on Edgar Wind

Art Historian and curator, Dr Ben Thomas, has recently published his new book, Edgar Wind and Modern Art: In Defence of Marginal Anarchy (Bloomsbury, 2020). Dr Thomas’ new book is the first major study of the philosopher and art historian, Edgar Wind’s critique of modern art.

Dr Ben Thomas writes, “Best known for his iconographical studies of Renaissance art, Wind was passionately interested in modern art, a topic he lectured on at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1942, and debated at international conferences with prominent figures like Herbert Read, W. H. Auden and E. M. Forster. Based on extensive archival research and bringing to light previously unpublished lectures, Edgar Wind and Modern Art reveals the extent and seriousness of Wind’s thinking about modern art, and how it was bound up with theories about art and knowledge that he had developed during the 1920s and 30s. Wind’s ideas are placed in the context of a closely connected international cultural milieu consisting of some of the leading artists and thinkers of the twentieth century. In particular, the book discusses in detail his friendships with three significant artists: Pavel Tchelitchew, Ben Shahn and R. B. Kitaj. In the process, the existence of an alternative to the prevailing formalist approach of Alfred Barr and Clement Greenberg to modern art, based on the enduring importance of the symbol, is revealed.”

On writing this book, Ben notes, “Writing this book is an attempt to acknowledge my debt of gratitude to the late Margaret Wind, the widow of Edgar Wind, whose research assistant I was from 1996-99.”

Dr Ben Thomas also recently interviewed Italian artist, Silvia Rosi, which was published on the Italian Cultural Institute (ICI) website. Silvia is an artist who spends her time between London and Modena; her work retraces her personal family history drawing on her Togolaise heritage, and the idea of origins. The event was part of the ICI’s foregrounding of Italy’s multicultural art scene, which includes Dr Margherita Laera’s recent Performing Italy project.

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