THE THIRD DIMENSION
Of all the artforms in Britain, sculpture has been widely regarded as the most inventive and innovative. Over the decades the pace with which it has evolved to incorporate new materials, new forms and new ideas has been unmatched. This display offers an opportunity to trace key moments from the mid 20th century to today.
From coloured steel in works by Anthony Caro, to Barry Flanagan's soft fabric and photographs of grass, sculpture is seen in a state of perpetual revolution. Ian Hamilton Finlay reminds us of sculpture's political potential, despite its demise as either monument or memorial. Gilbert & George introduce the idea of seriality and ephemerality through their postcard series. Richard Long removes constraints of scale simply by walking in the landscape, and bringing back the evidence in text and photographs. Tony Cragg, Bill Woodrow, Richard Deacon and Richard Wentworth - the New Sculptors - re-introduce the urban landscape by giving scrap and other scavenged street materials unexpected new life, the 20th century equivalent of metaphysical poetry. Richard Wilson's Corner transposes table football from the bar-room to the gallery, and Jim Lambie's glittering turntables bring club culture into the daylight.
This display marks the British Council's 75th anniversary. It is one of five displays presented over one year and selected by guest curators who each contribute a distinct curatorial perspective. The final display in Spring 2010 will result from an international competition open to curators worldwide.
Landscape is one of the principle genres of Western art. In early paintings the landscape was a backdrop for the composition, but in the late 17th Century the appreciation of nature for its own sake began with the French and Dutch painters (from whom the term derived). Their treatment of the landscape differed: the French tried to evoke the classical landscape of ancient Greece and Rome in a highly stylised and artificial manner; the Dutch tried to paint the surrounding fields, woods and plains in a more realistic way. As a genre, landscape grew increasing popular, and by the 19th Century had moved away from a classical rendition to a more realistic view of the natural world. Two of the greatest British landscape artists of that time were John Constable and JMW Turner, whose works can be seen in the Tate collection (www.tate.org.uk). There can be no doubt that the evolution of landscape painting played a decisive role in the development of Modernism, culminating in the work of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists . Since then its demise has often been predicted and with the rise of abstraction, landscape painting was thought to have degenerated into an amateur pursuit. However, landscape persisted in some form into high abstraction, and has been a recurrent a theme in most of the significant tendencies of the 20th Century. Now manifest in many media, landscape no longer addresses solely the depiction of topography, but encompasses issues of social, environmental and political concern.
A three-dimensional work of art. Such works may be carved, modelled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, relief, and made in a huge variety of media. Contemporary practice also includes live elements, as in Gilbert & George 'Living Sculpture' as well as broadcast work, radio or sound sculpture.
UK, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery
- 27 June 2009 − 20 September 2009