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British Museum opens a new display of recent acquistions

Pablo Picasso, (1881 - 1973), Still life under the lamp,  1962 © Succession Picasso/DACS 2013.

Exhibition preview

A NEW exhibition at the British Museum displays together rare artworks from its collection by some of the world’s most famous artists, including David Hockney, Bridget Riley, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Jeremy Deller, Raphael, Edgar Degas and Phyllida Barlow.

In total, 150 artworks are on show in the free exhibition, New Acquisitions: Gozzoli to Kara Walker, which showcases some of the most important prints and drawings the Museum has acquired over the past five years.

Since 2013, the British Museum has added 3000 graphic works into its prints and drawings collection, and this large selection of highlights spans six centuries of these art forms. The oldest work on show is by the Renaissance master Benozzo Gozzoli from around 1460, and the newest is Kara Walker’s 2017 monumental print Resurrection Story with Patrons, which depicts a giant statue of a black woman being erected.

The exhibition contains a number of works which are ‘firsts’ for the British Museum. A highlight is the British Museum’s first ever drawing by Andy Warhol, which depicts a study of a theatre set he designed in New York in 1959. The exhibition will also show the Museum’s first ever work by Phyllida Barlow, which is a study for one of the sculptures in her British pavilion installation at the 2017 Venice Biennale.

Also on display is the first work in the collection by Kerry James Marshall, whose work Past Times recently set an auction record as the most valuable painting by a living African American artist, selling for $21 million.

Visitors will also be able to see five prints from one of Pablo Picasso’s greatest-ever graphic works. Suite 347 is a series of 347 etchings made in 1968 which show the phenomenal invention and technical ingenuity of the octogenarian artist, as he looked back to his youth and the art of his native Spain. The British Museum is the only UK museum to have a complete set. This selection from the series – seen alongside a Picasso linocut and aquatint – demonstrate the world class quality of the Museum’s collection of the artist’s prints.

New Acquisitions: Gozzoli to Kara Walker aims to highlight the importance of contemporary art to the collection of the British Museum, and to shine a light on recent efforts to acquire works by the best artists from around the world working today. Many of the works, including those by Bridget Riley and Georg Baselitz, have been donated by the artists themselves or their families and estates, demonstrating the importance and high regard the national collection of prints and drawings is held.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this special exhibition which shines a light on a less well-known but vital part of the British Museum’s collection. New Acquisitions: Gozzoli to Kara Walker is a roll-call of the some of the very best and most well-known artists of the past 600 years and all of these newly acquired works are now held by the British Museum on behalf of the nation and for the enjoyment of everyone around the world.”

Hugo Chapman, Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum said: “Prints and drawings have been an integral part of the collection of the British Museum since its founding in 1753, and we have continually added to them ever since. The past five years has seen such a wealth of remarkable works acquired that we decided to show as many as we could all together in one display. We hope that visitors will see that we’re focussed on building up a multi-faceted collection that will explain our own times as eloquently to our successors as the one we have inherited from past curators.”

Image: Pablo Picasso, (1881 – 1973), Still life under the lamp, 1962 © Succession Picasso/DACS 2013.

Dates: October 4, 2018 to January 27, 2019.

Admission: Free.

Also at the British Museum: I object: Ian Hislop’s search for dissent (until January 20, 2019).