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Discover & Research

Reassessing Herbert Read

Winter 2022 & Spring 2023

This research season aims to give scholars, both emerging and established, a chance to reassess Read’s work from a contemporary perspective. It also seeks to revisit his achievements and increase the public’s direct and virtual access to his archive.

About this season

The impetus for this research season is the forthcoming launch of the University of Leeds’ digital exhibition on Herbert Read (1893-1968) and enhancements to its Herbert Read archive. The Henry Moore Foundation also has an enduring interest in  Read and his work; Read was a lifelong supporter of Moore and his sculpture and the two maintained a firm and lasting friendship.

Herbert Read was a First World War poet who was awarded the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order. He was a literary critic who co-founded the influential journal Art and Letters and the Institute for Contemporary Arts, a novelist, publisher and editor. Read was also a passionate advocate for education through art and an internationally renowned art critic, largely responsible for the promotion of artists including Jean Arp, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.

The majority of Leeds’ Herbert Read Archive collection was acquired from Read’s family in 1998, following the 1997 acquisition of his Library, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Further accruals to the collection were made via Benedict and later Piers Paul Read, before the acquisition in 2018 of a group of Read’s letters and manuscripts which had formed part of Benedict Read’s estate. The 2018 purchase was supported by the Friends of National Libraries.


This Research Season is being organised in collaboration with Leeds University Library Special Collections and Galleries and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

Upcoming events

Touch-Space: The Tactile Imagination in Contemporary Sculpture
Congo the chimpanzee stands on a table, partially behind a framed painting, which he is supporting with his left arm. His right arm rests lightly on the front of the painting, palm open, as though caressing it; and his chin rests on the upper left corner of the frame, his head angled downwards to look at the painting he has made.
Part of Reassessing Herbert Read
Part of Reassessing Herbert Read


Touch-Space: The Tactile Imagination in Contemporary Sculpture


Fully booked, waiting list available

University of Leeds, Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery

Current exhibitions and displays

Research for the season has informed a display in the Henry Moore Institute’s Research Library, Herbert Read: A Gentle Radical.

The display uses material from the library’s collection to highlight Herbert Read as both visionary supporter of the arts and revolutionary writer on society more widely.

Previous events

All of our events are recorded, with many publicly available to watch on our website and YouTube channel. For copyright reasons, some material can only be viewed in-person in our research library.