Black Eyes & Lemonade: Curating Popular Art, an exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (March to September 2013)
This exhibition and accompanying essay re-examined Barbara Jones’ radical Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition of 1951 that featured ‘things that people make or are manufactured to their taste’, and which sought to challenge established ideas about museum and gallery culture and the value attached to particular kinds of objects. Black Eyes and Lemonade: Curating Popular Art presents research findings that challenge established perceptions of Jones’ project. The first study to scrutinise Jones’ curatorial strategy and the connections she established across images, objects and text, it proposes that Jones has a rightful claim to be described as the ‘mother of Pop’.
The first exploration of Black Eyes and Lemonade as a curatorial intervention, the exhibition formed an integral part of the Whitechapel Art Gallery’s 2013 programme and reached an audience of 146,000, attracting reviews in the London Review of Books, The Times, the art journal, and The Spectator. Moriarty’s essay exploring the connections across Jones’ practice had a print run of 30,000 and informed a paper Moriarty presented at the 2013 Association of Art Historians Annual Conference. Moriarty also convened a public study day at the Whitechapel that brought together curators and academics to debate the hierarchies of cultural value and the place of the exhibition in their affirmation or contestation.
In collaboration with the Director of the Museum of British Folklore, Simon Costin, and the Curator of the Archive Gallery at the Whitechapel, Nayia Yiakoumaki, Moriarty developed a multilayered curatorial process that highlighted the connection between Jones’ curatorial activity and her writing and drawing projects. The result of several years’ research, the project unearthed and re-presented previously unseen objects and images and, crucially, identified new relationships to firmly establish Jones’ contact with The Independent Group and the place of Black Eyes and Lemonade in emerging definitions of Pop.
Copies of the essay are available to purchase from the University of Brighton online store.