Reframing the Past, Government Art Collection, London, 18 April to 7 July 2017
Exhibition curated by Dr Laura-Maria Popoviciu, Curator, Research & Information (Historical)
This exhibition draws on the unfinished project of art theorist and intellectual historian Aby Warburg (1866–1929), entitled Mnemosyne Atlas. Begun in 1924, the Atlas consisted of photographs of art historical and cosmographical images, maps, manuscripts and newspaper cut-outs from different periods displayed thematically on panels. Central to this project was tracing the way in which ancient motifs resurfaced and were reanimated in the art of later periods. Inspired by Warburg’s concept and methodology, this display follows how such forms developed, circulated and survived throughout time through a selection contemporary works, mostly by British artists, from the Government Art Collection.
The works include immediately recognizable references to visual or textual motifs from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The slight distortions and the unexpected juxtapositions through collage and montage techniques prompt the viewers to make associations with works by artists such as Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Leandro Bassano. Whether they include fragments of classical sculpture, biblical references or explore themes such as vanitas and cabinets of curiosities, the works displayed function as mnemonic devices. Only one Old Master painting has been included in the exhibition, i.e. View on the Thames at Deptford Dockyard by John Serres (1759–1825), and the video associated with the work exhibits in detail the process of ‘reframing the past’ by showing a time-lapse of its cleaning.
You can visit the Government Art Collection (GAC) by booking onto one of the regular tours via the link below. All tours are free, last an hour and are aimed at those over 16 years old. The GAC premises are not suitable for wheelchair users. Full information here: http://www.gac.culture.gov.uk/visit.html