13 September 2005 –
The BP British Art Displays 1500-2006 open at Tate Britain today. This new presentation of the national collection of British art includes twenty-one new rooms including those dedicated to William Blake and John Flaxman, Romantic painting, the Pre-Raphaelites, Outsider art, FN Souza, John Latham and Chris Ofili.
Among the highlights is a dramatic new presentation in Tate Britain’s highest and longest gallery, Room 9. Entitled Romantic Painting in Britain, it features such icons as John Martin’s trilogy of works depicting hell, purgatory and heaven, and JMW Turner’s pair War and Peace, both 1842. The new displays also include three rooms dedicated to Tate’s unrivalled collection of Victorian art, including an important new display of the work of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. It features many of the best-known works in the Tate Collection, including John Everett Millais’ Ophelia 1851-2, as well as paintings by artists who are now less widely known, such as Charles Allston Collins.
Among the rooms reflecting Tate’s collection of modern British art is a special exhibition for Tate Britain’s Artist in Focus series dedicated to the work of John Latham, perhaps one of the most influential figures in post-war British art. The display features his seminal, and controversial, early works in which he uses books as sculptural elements attached to canvases, along with more recent works which continue to develop the ideas formulated in those early pieces. The Indian-born painter FN Souza is given his first solo display at Tate Britain, which features Tate works such as his dramatic, tortuous Crucifixion 1959 brought together with a number of loans from the Victoria and Albert Museum and elsewhere. A display to mark the eightieth birthday of the abstract painter Sandra Blow is another highlight, and features works from the Tate Collection along with two works completed earlier this year.
The Upper Room 1999-2002 by Chris Ofili is a landmark work comprising thirteen paintings depicting monkeys, displayed in a specially designed and fabricated room on which Ofili collaborated with architect David Adjaye. Twelve canvases, each painted in one predominant colour, line two sides of the room, while a single, larger canvas is placed at the head of the space. This organisation recalls Christ flanked by his twelve disciples.
A special display in the Goodison Room marks the gift to Tate of the archive relating to the Outsider Art Collection, which was built by Monika Kinley and the late Victor Musgrave. The display includes some original and compelling works lent from the collection itself. This is the first time such material has been displayed at Tate Britain.
Many of the new displays will now form part of the BP British Art Displays for several years to come, joining the permanent spaces given to Blake, Constable and, of course, Turner, in the Clore Gallery. These include the display Hogarth and the Art of Conversation which shows a number of iconic works by the great satirical artist, including The Painter and his Pug 1745.
BP has supported the Collection Displays at Millbank since 1990, first at the Tate Gallery and then from the opening of Tate Britain in 2000 to the present. BP’s continued support allows Tate Britain to create a broad and dynamic displays programme which explores in depth British art from 1500 to the present. They are also supporting BP Saturdays, three day-long, free festivals for families and young people. The two remaining events in the series are Loud Tate on Saturday 17 September, for 13 to 19 year olds and Dotty Tate, for families with under 12s, on Saturday 15 October. BP’s other support at Tate includes the BP Conservation Intern Programme, sculpture and installation workshops for schools, BP Artist Talks and the BP British Art Lecture.
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