CURRENTLY exhibiting its second display of the Government Art Collection at the Whitechapel Gallery, ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain: Selected’ by Cornelia Parker, is proving very popular. All of the selected works on show are works of art from private government collections around the world. For a short time only the public have been granted permission to be able to enjoy these pieces of art, usually hidden away on the official’s wall or tucked away in some security tight room. The exhibition looks at the infinitely interesting thought of the politicians and diplomats and their preferred taste in art.
The Government Art Collection, curated by Cornelia Parker’s idea of using the colour spectrum works incredibly well. Allowing the extensive and usually isolated individual pieces to work well together and creating a sense of organised chaos and uncovering new meanings through juxtaposition. A worthwhile exhibition, a chance to view art that you many never usually get to.
The small room is brimming full of amazing artwork in wonderful juxtaposition and a wide and diverse range. This is the second exhibition in a series of five displays with over 70 works covering the walls. The title of the show is a mnemonic, used to recall the colours of the spectrum, which creates a rainbow throughout the room. The paintings are placed colour co-ordinately and in some cases seem to be representing political parties.
There were many exciting and bold pieces but one that captures the eye first was the ‘Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom’, by Andy Warhol in 1985. The screen-print is a fairly democratic painting, humorous when realising that the other Queen’s Warhol painted in this period were in fact transvestites. Warhol has humanised the Queen and turned her into a more celebrity figure, rather than a monarch. His painting normally resides on the British Consul-General’s Residence in New York.
Clashing perfectly with the contemporary work of the last century, are many of the ‘Old Master’s’, one being that of Arthur Devis and his painting ‘Young Man: The Young Waltonian’. Painted in 1750, the detailed portrait of a young boy with bold and rich colours, allows the different surrounding paintings to engage in new dialogues and new meanings to develop. The Devis portrait originally came from the HM Ambassador’s Residence in Vienna.
Lastly, another painting which jumped out at me was Eva Weinmayr’s ‘31 MPH A CRIME?’ from ‘Today’s Questions’ 2002. The work of art usually lives at 10 Downing Street in London, also known as the Prime Minister’s abode. Initially the painting is seemingly uninteresting, yet on closer inspection there seems to be underlying messages and perhaps it is not a coincidence that it is the muted shade of orange used by the liberal democrat’s party. The artist is known for creating art from the discarded wreckage of city life, in the literal and emotional sense.
The Government Art Collection, curated by Cornelia Parker’s idea of using the colour spectrum works incredibly well. Allowing the extensive and usually isolated individual pieces to work well together and creating a sense of organised chaos and uncovering new meanings through juxtaposition. A worthwhile exhibition, a chance to view art that you many never usually get to. The display also includes works by artists including Craigie Aitchison, Peter Blake, Angela Bulloch, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Patrick Caulfield, Alexandre da Cunha, Andrew Grassie, Gary Hume, Callum Innes, Nils Norman, John Riddy, Bridget Riley, Ed Ruscha, Simon Starling and Gillian Wearing.
The exhibition will run until 4 December at the Whitechapel Gallery
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