Harpenden Evening Web Page

Detailed Programme of Lectures 2022-2023


18th January 2023 Jackie Klein
Lecturer: Jackie Klein    

A Picture a Day - Peggy Guggenheim and the birth of mid-century modernism

Peggy Guggenheim

How did socialite and muse Peggy Guggenheim became one of the greatest collectors in the history of modern art? Friends with the leading cultural figures of her day, including Cecil Beaton, Jean Cocteau, Barbara Hepworth and Scott Fitzgerald, she was photographed by Man Ray, took advice from Marcel Duchamp and married – among others – the artist Max Ernst. She moved easily between the social elites of New York and the bohemia of Paris. So why did she start collecting contemporary art in the 1930s? What impact did her galleries have on artists and the art world? And how did a New York heiress play such a pivotal role in the making of mid-century Modernism?

Remainder of the 2023 lectures

15th February 2023
Lecturer: Simon Whitehouse

A Haaaand-Baaag? The Importance of Being Oscar (& Earnest)
  In this talk we look at Oscar’s great literary successes, beginning with The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1890 followed by 4 smash hit plays in 3 years. We focus especially on The Importance of Being Earnest. Described as ‘A Trivial Comedy for Serious People’, it was of its time and yet ahead of its time, satirising the shallowness and superficiality of upper class Victorian society. The play has hidden secrets - and this glittering triumph heralded the beginning of the author’s fatal final act… 2025 marks the 130th anniversary of the premiere of The Importance of Being Earnest.

15th March 2023
Lecturer: Chloe Sayer

British Travellers in Mexico, Lost Cities and Surreal Worlds
With its mosaic of cultures, Mexico has long been a magnet for British travellers. In the nineteenth century, the 'lost' rainforest cities of the Maya were revealed by artist Frederick Catherwood and archaeologist Alfred Percival Maudslay. Eminent twentieth-century literary visitors included D. H. Lawrence and Graham Greene. Mexico holds an especial fascination for Surrealists. Edward James created a vast sculpture garden in subtropical rainforest. After a spell in an asylum, painter Leonora Carrington found freedom in Mexico. In our century, Martin Parr’s photographs focus on street culture, while Zandra Rhodes’ fashions echo the vibrant colours and patterns of modern Mexico.

19th April
Lecturer: Cindy Polemis

Picasso’s Year of Wonders
A  journey through one of the most remarkable years of Pablo Picasso’s extraordinary career. Picasso turned 50 in the autumn of 1931 and in the summer of 1932 he had his first major retrospective. He had achieved fame and success and was already an international celebrity but he was determined to prove he could still be daring and innovative. Highlighting key works throughout that year, this talk explores the man and artist in all his complexity.

17th May
Lecturer: Roger Mendham

The Art of the Automobile

The earliest cars were purely functional and lacked even the most basic of passenger comforts, such as doors or even windscreens to protect passengers from the elements. However, progress was rapid and by the mid-1920s we entered a golden age of the automobile. The Art Deco movement influenced designs and the ‘Great Gatsby era’ included some of the most famous and fabulous cars ever built. Then the cars of the 1930s and 40s were influenced by the Streamline Moderne style. This talk covers some of the most beautiful cars ever built, from the earliest ‘horseless carriages’ to the supercars of the 21st century.  

21st June
Lecturer: Briony Hudson

An Art to Cure 

Medical practitioners, their treatments and the diseases they were tackling were all portrayed in caricatures of the 18th and 19th century. Taking some of the best examples from British collections, created by artists including William Hogarth, James Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson, this lecture examines the depiction of apothecaries, pharmacists, quack medicines and illnesses in the period. Come prepared to laugh and wince in equal measure.

19th July
Lecturer: Sophie Matthews

Music in Art
So many of our historical references for musical instruments can be found in works of art. Not only can these windows into the past show us what they looked like but also the social context in which they would have been played. Music and instruments also play a strong role within symbolism in art. Sophie explores the instruments in selected works and then gives live demonstrations on replicas of them.


For the complete years programme click here