In recent years, there has been increasing scholarly interest in the history of museums, academies and major exhibitions. There has been, however, little to sustained interest in the histories of alternative exhibitions (single artwork, solo artist, artist-mounted, entrepreneurial, privately funded, ephemeral, etc.) with the table exception of those publications that deal with situations involving major artists or those who would become so - for example J.L. David's exhibition of Intervention of the Sabine Women (1799) and The First Impressionist Exhibition of 1874 - despite the fact that these sorts of exhibitions and critical scholarship about them have become commonplace (and less important) in the contemporary art world. The present volume uses and contextualizes eleven case studies to advance some overarching themes and commonalities among alternative exhibitions in the long modern period from the late-eighteenth to the late-twentieth centuries and beyond. These include the issue of control in the interrelation and elision of the roles of artist and curator, and the relationship of such alternative exhibitions to the dominant modes, structures of display and cultural ideology.
Andrew Graciano is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of South Carolina, USA. He is author of Joseph Wright, Esq.: Painter and Gentleman (2012) and editor of Visualising the Unseen, Imagining the Unknown, Perfecting the Natural: Art and Science in the 18th and 19th Centuries (2008).