Helena Cuss

Research project: The role of refugee art dealers in the internationalisation of the British art market, c. 1945-60

Abstract

Through analysis of archival and collection materials at the Ben Uri Research Unit and other holdings in the UK, Germany and Austria, I am investigating the diverse roles that émigré art dealers played from 1933 to 1960 in the opening up of the British art world to engage with new forms of modern and contemporary art (both local and international), innovative gallery systems, and the forging of links between distinct refugee communities, and national and international artists and collectors. It will establish key figures including Gustav Delbanco and Henry Roland, Francis Matthiesen, Paul Wengraf, Harry Fisher and Frank Lloyd, Jack Bilbo, Andras Kalman, William Ohly, Alfred Flechtheim, Charles and Peter Gimpel, and Erica Brausen, Annely Juda, Lea Bondi Jaray, Halima Nalecz and Monika Kinley. Outcomes will be a written thesis, an online resource of oral history interviews and an exhibition. 

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: The role of refugee art dealers in the internationalisation of the British art market, c. 1945-60
  • Research supervisor: Professor Fran Lloyd
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Jonathan Black

Biography

I studied my BA in English Literature at the University of Exeter (2008-2011) before going on to do an MA in History of Art at the University of Warwick, with a thesis on the representation of women in Renaissance Venetian oil painting (2011-2012).

I spent a year at the Royal Academy of Arts as the Architecture Programme Co-ordinator before working as Curatorial Assistant, then Assistant Curator of Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Collections at the National Portrait Gallery. In this role I worked on artist commissions, curated temporary displays, contributed towards exhibition publications, conducted a provenance and spoliation project, and managed research activity. 

Areas of research interest

  • History of Art
  • Art Markets
  • Exile and Diasporic Studies
  • British and European modernism

Qualifications

  • BA in English, University of Exeter
  • MA in History of Art, University of Warwick

Publications

'Charles & Diana', 'Keynes & Lopokova' and 'Plath and Hughes', various essays in Love Stories: Art, Passion & Tragedy, eds. Lucy Peltz and Louise Stewart (London: National Portrait Gallery, 2020)

Conference papers

'Reappraising the Duchess of Cork Street: Lillian Browse (1906-2005)',  Association for Art History Annual Conference, 15 April 2021