World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Lawrence Alloway

Lawrence Alloway
Born (1926-09-17)17 September 1926
London, United Kingdom
Died 2 January 1990(1990-01-02) (aged 63)
New York City, New York, United States
Nationality English
Occupation Art critic

Lawrence Alloway (London, 17 September 1926 – New York, 2 January 1990) was an English art critic and curator who worked in the United States from the 1960s. In the 1950s, he was a leading member of the Independent Group in the UK and in the 1960s was an influential writer and curator in the US. He first used the term "mass popular art" in the mid-1950s and used the term "Pop Art" in the 1960s to indicate that art has a basis in the popular culture of its day and takes from it a faith in the power of images.[1] He was married to artist Sylvia Sleigh.


  • Work 1
    • Early career and the Independent Group 1.1
    • Career in the U.S. 1.2
    • In his own words 1.3
  • References 2
  • External links 3


Early career and the Independent Group

Alloway started writing art reviews for "Art News" in 1953. In his 1954 book Nine Abstract Artists he promoted the Constructivist artists that emerged in Britain after the Second World War: Robert Adams, Terry Frost, Adrian Heath, Anthony Hill, Roger Hilton, Kenneth Martin, Mary Martin, Victor Pasmore and William Scott.

Alloway's theory of art reflecting the concrete materials of modern life gave way to an interest in mass-media and consumerism. Alloway joined the Independent Group in 1952 and lectured on his theory of a circular link between popular cultural low art and high art. From 1955 to 1960 he was Assistant Director of the This Is Tomorrow and reviewing that show, and other works he had seen on a trip to the U.S., in a 1958 article, first used the term "mass popular art".

Career in the U.S.

In 1961, Alloway moved to New York with his wife, realist painter Guggenheim Awards, one of which was refused by the painter Asger Jorn.[2][3][4]

In 1966, Alloway curated the influential Systemic Painting exhibition that showcased Geometric abstraction in the American art world via Minimal art, Shaped canvas, and Hard-edge painting. Alloway was an ardent supporter of Abstract expressionism and of American Pop artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and Andy Warhol. In 1967/68 he joined the Art department faculty as a lecturer at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where McHale and Buckminster Fuller were also on staff at the SIU Design Department. In the 1970s he wrote for The Nation and Artforum and lectured at the State University of New York, Stony Brook where he was appointed professor of art history. There he co-founded the magazine Art Criticism with the critic Donald Kuspit.

In that same year of 1966 Alloway coined the term [5]

In his own words

Concerning the origins of the term Pop Art in his own words Alloway said: "The term, originated in England by me, as a description of mass communications, especially, but not exclusively, visual ones."[6] In a footnote to his essay Pop Art the words, he goes on to say: "The first published appearance of the terms that I know is: Lawrence Alloway, "The Arts and the Mass Media," Architectural Design, February, 1958, London. Ideas on Pop Art were discussed by Reyner Banham, Theo Crosby, Frank Cordell, Toni del Renzio, Richard Hamilton, Nigel Henderson, John McHale, Eduardo Paolozzi, Alison and Peter Smithson, sculptor William Turnbull, and myself."

However there are contradictory recollections as to the origin of the term: according to John McHale's son his father first coined the term in 1954 in conversation with Frank Cordell, and the term was then used in Independent Group discussions by mid 1955.[7] Alloway used the term 'mass popular art' in his oft quoted 1958 article but he did not use the specific term "Pop Art" in the piece.[8]


  1. ^ Topics in American Art since 1945, Pop Art the words, pp.119-122, by Lawrence Alloway, copyright 1975 by W.W.Norton and Company, NYC ISBN 0-393-04401-7
  2. ^ The New York Times (1964) Guggenheim Prize Of $2,500 Refused By Danish Painter. January 17, 1964, Friday. Section: Business Financial, Page 41
  3. ^ Guy Debord, Correspondence, vol. 2 ("September 1960 – December 1964"), ed. Patrick Mosconi, Paris, Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2001, p. 273.
  4. ^ Tom McDonough (2002) p.5, Art in America, July 2002.
  5. ^ "Systemic art." The Oxford Dictionary of Art. Ed. Ian Chilvers. Oxford University Press, 2004. 2006. 19 Mar, 2008 systemic-art
  6. ^ Topics in American Art since 1945, Pop Art the words, p. 119, Lawrence Alloway, copyright 1975 by W.W. Norton and Company, NYC. ISBN 0-393-04401-7.
  7. ^
  8. ^ The Arts and the Mass Media, Lawrence Alloway,

External links

  • Lawrence Alloway papers, 1935-2003. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession No. 2003.M.46. The archive consists of correspondence, work files, manuscripts and clippings, personal documents, and many photographs and slides of contemporary art.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.