Associate Professor of Art History Lucy Curzon’s new book, Mass-Observation and Visual Culture: Depicting Everyday Lives in Britain, has been awarded the Historians of British Artist Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period after 1800.
The prize committee found Curzon’s book, published by Routledge in 2017, “theoretically sophisticated and convincingly argued, a timely and important volume on the anthropological research group Mass-Observation and its attitudes towards visual culture.” It is the first full-length study of the art produced under the auspices of the group.
The committee praised Curzon for her in-depth research in an “understudied” area of British art and culture. “The social research organization known as Mass-Observation was founded in 1937 to document everyday life. Due to the diverse nature of interests and projects undertaken by the group, they remain under-studied in an art historical context. Lucy Curzon corrects this oversight, providing an account of the movement in relation to visual culture, a timely and important theme. She brings an art historian’s interpretive skill to the sociological and visual culture project of Mass-Observation, examining the use of painting, collage, photography, and visual media within their word, providing an account of the important role of these visual elements in Mass-Observations project to understand national identity in the 1930s. In so doing, Curzon provides an important model of compatibility of art history and visual culture as related, fields of inquiry.”
Curzon’s research focuses on issues of identity politics as they concern the production of visual culture in twentieth-century Britain. She has previously published work on LGBTQ+ portraiture, as well as articles or chapters on the Ashington Group and Humphrey Spender’s photographs of Blackpool in the 1930s. She regularly presents her work at national and international conferences. To read more about Dr. Curzon and her new book, go here.
Since 1997, Historians of British Art (HBA) has awarded three prizes each year for books on British art in the following categories: pre-1800, post-1800 and multi-authored book. HBA is an affiliate society of the College Art Association and was formed to promote scholarship and other professional endeavors related to British art and architecture.