Bob and Roberta Smith: I Should Be In Charge (Gail Silver Memorial Lecture)

Gail Silver Memorial Lecture
OCT 5 | Wed, 6:15 pm | Michael P. Metcalf Auditorium, Chace Center

In conjunction with the exhibit Made in the UK: Contemporary Art from the Richard Brown Baker Collection, British contemporary artist Bob and his alter ego, Roberta, have a playful attitude towards their work, which dismantles conventional barriers between elitist art and its viewer. Slogans, painted on banners or planks of wood, display their humorous take on contemporary political issues.

Free for members and non-members; reservations required, email

Information about the piece, Tate Modern on view in Made in the UK:
In Tate Modern, Bob and Roberta Smith draws parallels between two centralized, celebrated icons of British life—the Tate Modern museum in London, the highest attended modern and contemporary art venue in the world, and the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the world’s largest and oldest free universal healthcare system. In 2008, the year Smith made this painting, the NHS was widely covered in the British press, celebrating sixty years of national healthcare, while struggling to reformulate its policies and becoming increasingly embroiled in controversy. Like the NHS, Tate Modern is also a publicly funded institution. On the surface, the painting suggests Smith’s populist belief that art is as necessary as healthcare, reflecting the high status of contemporary art in British culture and advocating for the social relevance of art. Characteristic of sloganeering, however, the buoyant tone is underscored by serious social implications—alluding here to the complex cultural trade-offs and bureaucratic stipulations that have come to define national politics in Great Britain.

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