Definition of retrospective in US English:



  • 1Looking back on or dealing with past events or situations.

    ‘our survey was retrospective’
    • ‘Fifteen minutes of retrospective interviews with director and writer Polanski, producer Robert Evans and production designer Richard Sylbert offer a lot of history and insight about the film.’
    • ‘However, Thompson noted that memory is not so subject to error as to invalidate the usefulness of information gathered from retrospective interviewing.’
    • ‘Ralston provides some technical knowledge and insight, while Harryhausen provides some retrospective information and some information on O'Brien that others made not have previously known.’
    • ‘Does our necessarily retrospective position deform our understanding of the writing process?’
    • ‘Bronte's limited world was one of moorland and governesses, big houses and class strictures, but Boylan goes further, uncovering the underbelly of Victorian society with retrospective omniscience.’
    • ‘Matters are made more ominous by the fact that, in the novel's opening chapter, Lowry introduces us to these main events from the retrospective vantage point of November 1939.’
    • ‘Thompson retains the lines but abandons their judicial context, thus depriving the play of its retrospective irony.’
    • ‘Studying two initiatives in a single organization limits the ability to generalize, and retrospective accounts are subject to hindsight bias.’
    • ‘I managed to get assignments to write the retrospective biographies of Raymond Massey and Burl Ives.’
    • ‘They tuned down in adaptation to Swedish taste, merging after some time into a romantic nationalism, embracing art nouveau and Jugend motifs as well as retrospective back-to-basics ideals.’
    • ‘Reznikoff clearly preferred the wisdom of experience, a retrospective mood, to merely evoking the frenzy of the immediate moment.’
    • ‘I understand the lack of a commentary track, especially since two of the three main personnel are dead, but surely we could have been given at least a retrospective documentary detailing the troubled production.’
    • ‘Symphonic music tended to be retrospective, with Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven forming the staple fare and accounting for the conservative forms of Schumann's and Mendelssohn's orchestral compositions.’
    • ‘This was a retrospective article about the attorney's career in the midst of a campaign for municipal judge, eight years after Burroughs was said to have submitted legislation.’
    • ‘The so-called rules of music theory constitute a retrospective set of principles that describe what various composers have done in the past.’
    • ‘The problem of retrospective awareness of the deleterious effects of mining is difficult to deal with.’
    • ‘The idea of commemoration shows up most strongly in the retrospective narrative provided by the interpolated tales.’
    • ‘Providing Web access to retrospective holdings is difficult because it involves digitally imaging older materials.’
    • ‘Like the term ‘Renaissance’, ‘Reformation’ is a retrospective term applied to the consequences of Luther's ideas.’
    • ‘The two retrospective articles published by the Moulton Advertiser in 1984 and 1998 did not print the Letson family name.’
    backdated, retroactive, ex post facto, backward-looking
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    1. 1.1 (of an exhibition or compilation) showing the development of an artist's work over a period of time.
      • ‘The previous October her first full retrospective exhibition in the United States had opened at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and despite infirmity Krasner traveled to Texas for the opening.’
      • ‘He has won numerous awards and in 1976 was the first native-born living American artist to be honoured with a retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, New York; but critical opinion on him is widely divided.’
      • ‘In 1999 the National Museum of American Art had a retrospective exhibition of the artist's works.’
      • ‘These works, part of a bequest from Jochen Schneider, patron and friend of the artist in Kampala, were the specific stimulus for the retrospective exhibition and its catalogue reviewed by Kasfir.’
      • ‘Guy Bourdin, the book, is the catalog of the first serious retrospective exhibition of the photographer's work curated by Charlotte Cotton for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.’
      • ‘To celebrate Ian Hamilton Finlay's eightieth birthday, Edinburgh saw no fewer than three retrospective exhibitions, which together illustrated something of his range as a poet, printmaker and sculptor.’
      • ‘This double album is a retrospective compilation drawn from a number of Garbarek's albums recorded over the last 30 years.’
      • ‘The paradox of retrospective exhibitions is that they present the artist's work as completed and therefore past, even as some of the work receives its first public viewing.’
      • ‘A retrospective exhibition of the work of Hamish Fulton is at Tate Britain until 4 June.’
      • ‘A major retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1996 and another was launched in Paris in 2000.’
      • ‘In 1946, the New York Museum of Modern Art had a huge retrospective exhibition of Marc Chagall's prints and paintings.’
      • ‘His retrospective exhibition featured only 123 of his best works, but many more have come to light since, and continue to do so.’
      • ‘Organizing a retrospective exhibition of an older, still highly productive artist can be tricky.’
      • ‘The retrospective glance offers a certain clarity and there are continuities between the drawings you were producing in the late 1960s through to those produced in the 1980s.’
      • ‘The retrospective exhibition will include the artist's earliest work as well as his last projects - photographs that span the last half of the twentieth century.’
      • ‘Following retrospective exhibitions at the Whitney Museum and Corcoran Gallery in 1974, she began keeping journals documenting her life as an artist.’
      • ‘It was also shown at the 1857 retrospective exhibition of Delaroche's works at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and was photographed by Robert Bingham for the catalogue raisonne published in 1858.’
      • ‘The Victoria and Albert Museum is celebrating the centenary of the photographer's birth in 1904 with a retrospective exhibition of his work based on prints from the Bill Brandt Archive.’
      • ‘This retrospective exhibition presented works spanning the five-decade-long career of William Clutz.’
      • ‘A large retrospective exhibition like the one presently at the Guggenheim Museum must be both thrilling and terrifying.’
    2. 1.2 (of a statute or legal decision) taking effect from a date in the past.
      ‘retrospective pay awards’
      • ‘The decision was not retrospective, and existing holders of the Griffith College degree were told they would have to complete the two-year King's Inns diploma course before being allowed to take the exam.’
      • ‘The decision in Stafford has retrospective effect.’
      • ‘The rules are not retrospective, but it will mean people who use trusts in the future will be forced to sell up, move out, or pay the tax.’
      • ‘Section 3 of the Law Reform Act provides that section 4 is not retrospective.’
      • ‘I presume there is no question of retrospective operation of any award that would be made in this case.’
      • ‘It said it didn't have to decide on whether the fact that CGU had filed for a trademark that it should have retrospective rights on everything with that trademark in.’
      • ‘A quarter of any benchmarking award would be paid in June next year, retrospective to December.’
      • ‘There might be some retrospective legislation and one day they'll come around and take your computers away and name you in the paper.’
      • ‘The new regulatory rules are not retrospective.’
      • ‘The measure, which was retrospective for 12 years, was introduced followed lobbying by the Irish Georgian Society, the National Heritage Council, Bord Failte and Rohan himself.’
      • ‘But if you haven't paid enough because you've spent half your life back-packing around the world, you are allowed to make retrospective contributions for up to the past six years.’
      • ‘The decisions of the ombudsman will be binding, subject to a right of appeal to the High Court with a retrospective time limit of six years.’


  • An exhibition or compilation showing the development of the work of a particular artist over a period of time.

    ‘a Georgia O'Keeffe retrospective’
    • ‘The Rome Quadriennale, first held in 1931, bestowed national recognition upon established artists and movements with personal retrospectives and group shows.’
    • ‘In 2000, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama mounted a traveling retrospective of his paintings.’
    • ‘It was the fifth in a series of retrospectives of local artists funded by local philanthropist Harold Wood.’
    • ‘In the retrospectives of most artists, it is the forms and the styles that keep changing.’
    • ‘The recent Eleanor Antin and Adrian Piper retrospectives examined more than three decades of each artist's work while highlighting the individuality of each vision.’
    • ‘Ransacking the Internet, I could discover no Perelman parties, no memorial readings from the canon, no revivals of the Broadway shows he worked on, no retrospectives of the films he helped write.’
    • ‘In 1960, the American Federation of Arts organized a retrospective of Lawrence's work that traveled to 16 cities.’
    • ‘The color photographs were excluded from both his subsequent retrospectives - in part because they were color, and 35 mm at that, but chiefly because they are not what viewers have come to expect from Morris.’
    • ‘Featured exhibits included landmark retrospectives of two major European photographers' works.’
    • ‘We rarely get to see a large selection of a mature artist's earliest work except in museum retrospectives.’
    • ‘Nowadays, Renaissance artists are rarely given substantial retrospectives; many works of the time were painted on wood and are too delicate to travel.’
    • ‘This retrospective contains approximately 40 works dating from 1960 to '90.’
    • ‘A recent museum retrospective in Prague offered a rare look at her work.’
    • ‘The largest is a comprehensive retrospective featuring over 200 of Arbus's photographs, along with contact sheets, cameras, letters and books from her personal library.’
    • ‘This major retrospective features some 200 works by the Post-Minimalist from the past four decades.’
    • ‘Museumgoers now identify art much too closely with the forward march of permanent collections, the apotheosis of individual artists in retrospectives, and the scholarly aura of thematic exhibitions.’
    • ‘She is also preparing a touring retrospective of Paul Kos, to open in April 2003.’
    • ‘Working in collaboration with many foreign institutions, the Rudolfinum hosts traveling exhibitions of international art, such as the recent retrospectives of photographs by Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin.’
    • ‘In 1971 a major retrospective of his work was held at the Museum of Modern Art.’
    • ‘I sat as politely as possible through an extended retrospective of her paintings.’
    display, public display, show, showing, presentation, demonstration, showcase, mounting, spectacle
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