The Avant-Garde in Interwar England: Medieval Modernism and the London Underground

By Michael T. Saler | Go to book overview

6
EDUCATING THE CONSUMER

No one would dispute that the legislator must busy himself especially about the education of the young…. Since the whole city has one goal, it is evident that there must also be one and the same education for everyone, and that the superintendence of this should be public and not private.

aristotle 1

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that at the moment the initiative in administration of art education seems to be passing from the hands of the Board [of Education] into the hands of Mr. Pick.

board of education memo, 1936 2

THE DISCOURSE OF MEDIEVAL MODERNISM GAINED momentum in the early 1930s, and Frank Pick continued to play a significant role in defining its terms. The decade marked a high point for the medieval modernists' dream of reintegrating art with life: by the middle of the decade the DIA's message that art was a thing of use as well as beauty had become widely accepted among civil servants, critics, artists, and educators, and perhaps among many of the public (who remain the “silent majority” to historians). But just as the interwar rhetoric calling for the union of the arts under the rubric of “design” appeared to reach a crescendo, Pick began to redefine anew the relationship between artist and designer, which in turn had important consequences for the viability of medieval modernism.

Pick had been at the forefront of the private initiatives to integrate art with everyday life in the 1920s, and in 1934 he took charge of the government's own efforts to improve industrial art and art education when he became chairman of the newly established Council for Art and Industry. The CAI in effect replaced the DIA as the nation's most prominent body dedicated to the integration of art and industry. Pick's new position bolstered his already considerable influence over the debates about the nature and purposes of art in the thirties.

Pick dominated the council, as he had the DIA and the Underground. He used it initially to further the medieval modern aim of transforming England

-122-

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The Avant-Garde in Interwar England: Medieval Modernism and the London Underground
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Contents xiii
  • 1 - Framing the Picture 3
  • 2 - Frank Pick's City of Dreams, 1878–1915 25
  • 3 - Modernism and the North of England 44
  • 4 - Morris, the Machine, and Modernism, 1915–1934 61
  • 5 - The Earthly Paradise of the London Underground 92
  • 6 - Educating the Consumer 122
  • 7 - The Return of the Bathing Beauties, 1936–1941 148
  • 8 - The Demise of Medieval Modernism 165
  • Note 177
  • Selected Bibliography 219
  • Index 235
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