What was the School of London? Paula Rego vs Bacon and Freud


Sarah Wilson (Courtauld Institute of Art, London)

This lecture, originally given in the context of the Paula Rego retrospective at the Musée de l’Orangerie, 2018, has two aims: firstly to distinguish Paula Rego’s work from the so-called ‘School of London’ with whom she is now grouped as the necessary ‘woman artist’; secondly to investigate the label ‘School of London’ and its changing agendas. From a British misunderstanding of the term ‘School of Paris’ it became first a militant, then a marketing strategy. The relationship between Paula Rego, her husband Victor Willing and her contemporary Ron Kitai (neither artist in the Rome retrospective), offer alternative focusses. We celebrate the power and violence of Paula Rego’s art at the moment when Artemisia Gentileschi is showcased in London’s National Gallery.