Lawrence Alloway papers, 1935–2003

Letter from Lawrence Alloway to Sylvia Sleigh dated May 26, 1958 (detail)
English curator and art critic Lawrence Alloway (1926–1990) and artist Sylvia Sleigh (ca. 1916–2010), both of whom were active in the United States, maintained a rich and frequent exchange of letters whenever they were apart during the early years of their marriage. Their letters document the details of Alloway's travels, contacts, writing projects, and thoughts about the art world, providing a rich trove of information about his intellectual circle and output.

The Getty Research Institute, which holds the archives of both Alloway and Sleigh, has digitized approximately 1,000 items from the two collections, representing personal correspondence predominantly from the 1940s through the 1970s, with some material from the 1980s and 1990s. The digitization project complements the Getty Research Institute publication Lawrence Alloway: Critic and Curator, which illuminates Alloway's crucial role in shaping the field and anticipating approaches such as social art history and visual and cultural studies.


Alloway was a key figure in the development of modern art in Europe and America from the 1950s to the 1980s. Sleigh was a realist painter and ardent supporter of feminist art; she was active in exhibitions of her own and other women's works throughout her life. Credited with coining the term pop art, Alloway also championed conceptual and feminist art in America—the latter of these commitments largely influenced by Sleigh. His interests as a critic and as a curator ranged widely, including architecture, design, earthworks, film, neorealism, science fiction, and public sculpture. Largely self-taught, Alloway was a noted educator and a prolific writer who sought to escape the conventions of art-historical discourse.

Lawrence Alloway: Critic and Curator
The digitization project was announced at a book launch for Critic and Curator co-organized by the Research Institute and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London on November 18, 2015.