Cyril Barrett was one of the founding members of the Department of Philosophy when the University opened in 1965. He was a brilliant teacher and a lively influence among the emerging academic community in the new university. As a philosopher he earned international recognition for his writings on Wittgenstein and the philosophy of aesthetics and was also noted for his exploration of the interrelationships between philosophy, psychology and the visual arts.
In the latter field he was active as an art critic and curator of exhibitions which ranged from 19th century Irish art to kinetic sculpture and the Op Art movement of the 1960s. He was the author of one of the first authoritative books on Op Art (published by Studio Vista in 1970).
His presence at Warwick as an enthusiastic and creative champion of art was an enormous asset in the development and promotion of the University’s art collection, particularly in the early years before the Mead Gallery was built and its curator given responsibility for the collection. Cyril Barrett’s guidance was especially valuable in the early 1970s at which time an honorary custodian, Patricia Mallett, was appointed to steer the acquisitions policy. Together they built up a good selection of British figurative art of that period, mainly in the form of prints, which provided a counterbalance to the emphasis on abstract painting which characterised the initial acquisitions of the late 1960s. Cyril frequently undertook effective wheeling and dealing with London galleries to make the most of the modest financial resources they had at their disposal.
Forty works from his own extensive and interesting collection, which included works by many artists he had come to know personally, gradually made their way into the University collection through a series of generous gifts.
For further information about individual works, select the image below:
Portfolio 'A shorter History' by Micheal Farrell
Two works by Bridget Riley (images not available):
One work by Yoko Ono (image not available):