Press Release

BP Spotlights: Spring displays at Tate Britain

BP Spotlights: Spring displays at Tate Britain

Joseph Wright of Derby, An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump 1768

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump 1768
© National Gallery

Tate Britain’s spring season of BP Spotlights is announced today. The BP Spotlights include Tate collection works and loans that explore particular themes or focus on particular artists.

Spring highlights include a display centred around Joseph Wright’s masterpiece An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump 1768, a selection of rarely seen Pre-Raphaelite works on paper and unseen work by Gustav Metzger. Also on display will be a newly-acquired film by Bruce McLean, a sound installation made of bird calls from around the world by Oswaldo Maciá, a new installation by Charlotte Moth, and a collection of work by emerging artists about data, information exchange and the internet.

Joseph Wright of Derby: Illuminating the Air Pump
30 March – Spring 2016
This display explores Joseph Wright’s (1734-1797) painting An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump 1768, one of the masterpieces of British art, on loan from the National Gallery. Wright combined his skills in portraiture with his interest in natural science and dramatic light effects, at a time when scientific experimentation enjoyed wide popular appeal. Bringing together visual sources for the work, other paintings from Wright’s diverse practice, and significant scholarly publications on the artist, this display illuminates Wright’s artistic repertoire and his shifting reputation over time.

Pre-Raphaelite Works on Paper
20 April 2015 – Spring 2017
Pre-Raphaelite paintings began on paper; on sketchbooks, scraps, even backs of envelopes the artists tried out the ideas that would challenge the establishment. New figure compositions explored personal dramas: tense and tender encounters which often pitched youth against age, lovers against society. Detailed drawings arose from another kind of close encounter, between artist and subject, the detailed study behind the ‘truth to nature’ which transformed their art. This display features 60 highlights from Tate’s collection.

Gustav Metzger: Towards auto-destructive art 1950-62
11 May 2015 – Spring 2016
This display examines how Gustav Metzger (b. 1926) developed the theory and practice of auto-destructive art. Auto-destructive art has previously been understood as inseparable from Metzger’s activist activities and political beliefs. The display will acknowledge this concept, but will juxtapose it with an alternative notion of Metzger’s development, showing 22 paintings and one installation – including works never seen before – made during his influential and creative time as a student of David Bomberg.

Bruce McLean: In the Shadow of Your Smile, Bob
13 April – Autumn 2015
Bruce McLean’s (b. 1944) film In the Shadow of Your Smile, Bob 1970 was recently acquired for Tate’s collection. Its starting point is a photograph of the American artist Robert Morris, and is a playful take on the way individuals pose in order to fit within established norms of appearance and behaviour. In this film, McLean uses the artist’s pose and his seemingly unscripted commentaries as an unapologetic refusal to conform to expectations.

Oswaldo Maciá: Something Going on Above My Head
16 March – Autumn 2015
Something Going on Above My Head 1995-9 brings the sounds of two thousand birds into Tate Britain’s rotunda. For five years, Oswaldo Maciá (b. 1960) collected bird calls from international ornithological archives and audio libraries, reworking them into a symphony according to the birds’ pitches. As visitors enter Tate Britain, carefully positioned speakers fill the space above their heads with this mesmerising chorus of birdsong.

Charlotte Moth: Choreography of the Image
4 May 2015 – May 2016
Charlotte Moth (b. 1978) has used a photograph taken by Barbara Hepworth of her sculpture One Form (Single Form) 1937 as the focus for this display, exploring how images of artworks are ‘choreographed’ in a range of contexts. Moth’s installation includes a new film work alongside archive material from the 1930s to 60s relating to the staging and positioning of artworks by Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, their son Simon Nicholson, Naum Gabo and Alexander Calder.

The Weight of Data
18 May – October 2015
This display, part of Tate Britain’s Contemporary Projects series, includes recent work by emerging artists on the theme of information exchange and conversion. Exploring the internet’s capacity to collapse time and space, these works investigate points of affinity and distance, intimacy and anonymity, from the elastic dimensions of a virtual landscape to the physical certainty of the here and now. Artists include Eloise Hawser, Katrina Palmer, Yuri Pattison and Charlotte Prodger.

Ongoing BP Spotlight displays include:

‘Poor man’s picture gallery’: Victorian Art and Stereoscopic Photography
Monday 13 October 2014 – Sunday 1 November 2015
‘Poor man’s picture gallery’ is the first display in a major British art gallery devoted to the nineteenth century craze of three-dimensional photography. A number of Tate’s famous Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite works will be shown, such as Wallis’ Chatteron and Frith’s Derby Day alongside a rare collection of their three-dimensional photographic doubles all of which have been kindly loaned to Tate by Dr. Brian May (b.1947).

Spaces of Black Modernism: London 1919-1939
Monday 13 October 2014 – Sunday 4 October 2015
In the inter-war period, the studios, art colleges and social clubs of Chelsea, Bloomsbury and Soho became places of multi-ethnic exchange – bringing together icons such as sculptor Ronald Moody (1900-84), jazz singer Elisabeth Welch (1908-2003) and writer Nancy Cunard (1896-1965). The display includes paintings, sculpture, photographs and archival material. Spaces of Black Modernism explores how cosmopolitan networks of artists, activists, writers and artists’ models helped shape the cultural and political identity of the city.

New Brutalist Image 1949-1955
Monday 24 November 2014 – Sunday 4 October 2015
The sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005), photographer Nigel Henderson (1917-1985) and architects Alison and Peter Smithson (1928-93; 1923-2003) collaborated on three separate projects at the same time: Hunstanton School in Norfolk, an office for engineer Ronald Jenkins, and the exhibition ‘Parallel of Life and Art’. With a rich array of unseen material, this display will explore how these apparently diverse projects all fell under the label ‘New Brutalism’.

Karen Knorr
Monday 13 October 2014 – Sunday 4 October 2015
This display brings together two series of work by the photographer Karen Knorr (b.1954): Belgravia 1979-81 and Gentlemen 1981-83, which form part of the Eric and Louise Franck London Collection. The series explore the relationship between image and text, patriarchal values of the upper middle classes and the aspirations and lifestyles of the privileged minority.

The Darks: Ruth Ewan and Astrid Johnston
Ongoing
Playing on the format of a museum audio guide, The Darks audio tour invites visitors to navigate the area around Tate Britain, once the site of the infamous Millbank Prison. The original plan for Millbank Prison, which opened in 1816, was for a Panopticon. The design for such a building, conceived by Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century, would allow a single watchman to observe all inmates of an institution. The Darks audio tour touches on the utopian dream at its heart, and how this optimism switched into the hellish reality of what followed.

For further information please contact Kate.Moores@tate.org.uk or Sara.Chan@tate.org.uk

Or call +44(0)20 7887 4906/8732. For high resolution images visit tate.org.uk/press

BP’s support for UK Arts & Culture

BP are a major supporter of UK arts with a programme that spans over 35 years, during which time millions of people have engaged with BP-sponsored activities. BP’s investment of almost £10 million in extending its long term partnerships with the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House and Tate Britain until 2017, represents one of the most significant long-term corporate investments in UK arts and culture. Due to this ongoing commitment of world class culture; BP is Tate’s longest standing sponsor, partnering together on a range of programmes since January 1990. This has allowed over 37 million people to experience the national collection of British art. BP’s sponsorship of the Tate Britain collection is the longest on-going sponsorship commitment to a permanent collection in the UK.