A British Council exhibition.

The exhibition title was taken from Alexander Pope’s poem Essays on Man “…The Proper Study of Mankind is Man.”. The exhibition was selected by Richard Bartholmew, Professor Norbert Lynton and Andrea Rose, and featured paintings by 17 artists, opening with Francis Bacon’s Head II of 1949 and ending with the work of Graham Crowley. The artists who made up the exhibition could in no way be called a group. Nor could there be any claims for stylistic unity, or even similarity, but the unifying factor was a common leaning towards a European, and essentially humanistic, tradition. The exhibition set out to examine this tradition, a tradition then thought exhausted but one that had continued and, argued the selectors, grown stronger, more varied and more capable than ever of putting before the viewer the essential truths about lives as lived. The exhibition was accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an essay by Norbert Lynton, and commentaries on the artists by leading writers and critics of the day. ISBN 0 86355 018 5