Why Are So Many Great Artworks Acquired by Museums Locked Away in Storage? – 为什么博物馆收藏这么多伟大的艺术品?

In a darkened temperature-controlled room sit several seminal artworks the public has never seen. Hoards of could-be national treasures populate vast storage vaults. All of them out of view and consideration. What makes an artwork acquired by a museum worthy of wall space, while others are locked away? While efforts have been made behind the scenes to balance collections through acquiring more work by people of colour, this isn’t always reflected in what public eyes see. Hoisting up this much-needed discussion about what museums choose to collect and to show, ‘Speech Acts: Reflection-Imagination-Repetition’ at Manchester Art Gallery curated by Hammad Nasar with Kate Jesson, impels viewers to consider art history’s negative space and also the ways in which our encounters with art are inherently shaped by what is shown and what isn’t.


Why Are So Many Great Artworks Acquired by Museums Locked Away in Storage? - 为什么博物馆收藏这么多伟大的艺术品?

Keith Richardson-Jones, Counterpoint 2, 1970, screenprint. Courtesy: Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester 

Constructed from the findings of Black Artists & Modernism (BAM) – a research project led by artist Sonia Boyce with the University of the Arts London and Middlesex University which examines the ways practicing UK artists of African and Asian descent have been integrated into the story of art – the show critiques the processes that underlie the construction – and curation – of art history. Drawn from four nearby public collections – Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford, John Rylands Library (The University of Manchester), Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth – the exhibition brings forward a fraction of these collections’ overlooked pieces and places them next to works by artists with far greater public stature. Featuring the works of a diverse list of 40 artists, from Lubaina Himid, Gilbert and George, Anwar Jalal Shemza, Do Ho Suh and William Rothenstein, in total 70 works and archival documents ranging from the 18th to the 21st century make up this exhibition which has been separated into three parts. ‘Reflection’ explores portraiture, the performance of self and how artists, from different times, social classes and backgrounds, situate themselves in relation to histories and expectations. James Northcote’s glowing portrait of Ira Aldridge, the 19th-century African American actor famed for his portrayal of Othello, is subtly operatic. It is the first work acquired by Manchester Art Gallery, bought in 1827, and is a striking ice-breaker to the debate. In Wyndham Lewis’s Portrait of the Artist as the Painter Raphael (1921), the artist, who is known for depicting himself in various personas, presents a solemn portrait of himself as the Italian painter, while Hetain Patel’s video installation, The Other Suit (2015) brings this section to present times through his references to pop cultural male archetypes from Hollywood such as Michael Jackson and Superman. 


Why Are So Many Great Artworks Acquired by Museums Locked Away in Storage? - 为什么博物馆收藏这么多伟大的艺术品?

‘Speech Acts: Reflection-Imagination-Repetition’, 2018, installation view, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester. Courtesy: Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester 

What enables art to circulate and who gets to be included in these larger shared stories? The ‘Imagination’ section looks to pick up the question through its reconstruction of the LYC Museum & Art Gallery (1972–83), a museum-as-artwork and community hub run by Chinese artist, curator and poet Li Yuan-chia which was housed in a dilapidated barn in Cumbria, bought from the painter Winifred Nicholson. It displayed the work of more than 300 artists including Nicholson, Elsa Stansfield and Madelon Hooykaas and Shelagh Wakely, yet received little acknowledgement or acclaim in British art history. What makes this part of the show effective in countering the canon, is that it also features the work of the ‘School of London’ – artists who have dominated public collections. From William Rothenstein’s Rabindranath Tagore (1912) a delicate pencil on paper depiction of the Indian poet, to Francis Bacon’s cool-toned Portrait of Lucian Freud (1964), we are able to see that the positioning of these artists granted them the hypervisibility needed to steer style, narrative and message, at a greater speed and scale than others. Despite the overall theme of the exhibition exploring the erasure of artists from certain demographics, the inclusion of famous artists such as Frank Auerbach, David Hockney and RB Kitaj means that the show doesn’t end up becoming a tokenistic one-off, othering the very people it is attempting to acknowledge. 

Finally, ‘Repetition’ aims to unify the key role of pattern and reiteration across cultures. Works on cloth such as Barbara Brown’s Piazza and Anwar Jalal Shemza's War Sonnet (1969) show gorgeous compositions that bring an alternative aesthetic and materiality to the space. The use of repeated lines play-up to the idea of optical illusions which fit well with Bridget Riley’s Zephyr (1976) and the excited trembling of its undulated geometric stripes. While this section of the show is less didactic about its politics than the others, its positioning in the discourse is to reframe who we think about when we think about modernism and conceptual art. 


Why Are So Many Great Artworks Acquired by Museums Locked Away in Storage? - 为什么博物馆收藏这么多伟大的艺术品?

‘Speech Acts: Reflection-Imagination-Repetition’, 2018, installation view, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester. Courtesy: Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester 

Writing in the exhibition’s foreword, Boyce reflects on artist and writer Rasheed Araeen’s past remarks that if a black-British artist’s work is purchased by a public collection, it inevitably goes into cold storage, never to be seen again. What’s clear about the show’s agenda is that race and heritage cannot be taken out of the equation when examining which works become pillars of the zeitgeist. ‘Speech Acts: Reflection-Imagination-Repetition’ asks much more questions than it answers, but considering this is uncharted land, it’s important that we first hypothesise with the right tone before making dogmatic statements. There are tangible acts, strategies and work that must go into fixing how our art collections are constructed and presented – and that doesn’t end with acquisition. The ultimate mission must be to consistently challenge, debate and call-out the homogeny of museums collections and hangs. If art reflects life, then museums need to show us the art, by the artists, that reflect our times. 

‘Speech Acts: Reflection-Imagination-Repetition’ runs at Manchester Art Gallery until 22 April 2019. 

Main image: ‘Speech Acts: Reflection-Imagination-Repetition’, 2018, installation view, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester. Courtesy: Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester 


Kadish Morris

Kadish Morris is digital assistant at frieze, a writer and contributor to AnOther, Twin, Huck and Dazed and the founder of interview series g-irl.com. She is based in London. 

Opinion /

Manchester Art Gallery
Sonia Boyce
Black Artists & Modernism
David Hockney
Gilbert & George
Li Yuan-chia
Anwar Jalal Shemza
Kadish Morris

在黑暗温度控制的房间里坐着一些公众从未见过的精巧艺术品。囤积的财宝可能是国家宝藏中的巨大储藏库。所有这些都是不可见的和考虑的。是什么使得艺术品被一个有墙空间的博物馆所获得,而另一些则被锁住了呢?虽然人们在幕后通过获取有色人种更多的作品来平衡收藏,但这并不总是反映在公众眼中。在哈马德·纳萨尔和凯特·杰森共同主持的曼彻斯特美术馆举办的“演讲行为:反思-想象-重复”展览会上,展开了关于博物馆选择收藏和展览的迫切需要的讨论,促使观众思考艺术史的消极空间以及我们如何看待艺术史。与艺术的邂逅是由所展示的和未展示的东西所固有地形成的。cf034623.jpg Why Are So Many Great Artworks Acquired by Museums Locked Away in Storage? - 为什么博物馆收藏这么多伟大的艺术品? Keith Richardson-Jones,.point 2,1970,屏幕印刷。礼仪:曼彻斯特美术馆,曼彻斯特,根据黑人艺术家与现代主义(BAM)的研究结果建造——一个由艺术家索尼娅·博伊斯与伦敦艺术大学和米德尔塞克斯大学牵头的研究项目,研究英国艺术家非洲和亚洲的后裔已经融入艺术的故事——展览批评了艺术史的建设和策划的过程。展览取材于附近的四个公共收藏——卡特赖特霍尔美术馆、布拉德福德、约翰·赖兰德图书馆(曼彻斯特大学)、曼彻斯特美术馆和惠特沃斯——这些收藏品中有一小部分被忽视,并放在作品旁边。艺术家们有着更高的公众形象。这次展览由40位艺术家组成,包括卢贝娜·希米德、吉尔伯特和乔治、安瓦尔·贾拉尔·谢姆扎、杜·苏和威廉·罗森斯坦,从18世纪到21世纪共有70件作品和档案文件。“反思”探讨肖像、自我的表现以及不同时代、不同社会阶层和背景的艺术家如何根据历史和期望来定位自己。詹姆斯·诺斯科特以描写奥赛罗而闻名的19世纪美国黑人演员艾拉·奥尔德里奇精彩的肖像画是巧妙的歌剧。这是曼彻斯特美术馆在1827收购的第一部作品,是一场引人注目的破冰之战。在温德汉姆·刘易斯的《画家拉斐尔画像》(1921)中,这位以各种人物描绘自己而闻名的艺术家以意大利画家的身份呈现了一幅庄严的画像,而海坦·帕特尔的录像装置《另一套装》(2015)则将这部分带入了公关。他引用了好莱坞流行文化中的男性原型,如迈克尔·杰克逊和超人。参见海丝特。礼貌:曼彻斯特美术馆,曼彻斯特。什么使艺术得以流传,谁能够被包括在这些更大的共享故事中?“想象”栏目试图通过重建LYC博物馆&美术馆(1972-83)来回答这个问题,LYC美术馆是中国艺术家、馆长和诗人李元甲经营的艺术品博物馆和社区中心,李元甲住在坎布里亚的一个破旧的谷仓里,从油漆中买走。呃Winifred Nicholson。它展出了300多位艺术家的作品,包括尼科尔森、艾尔莎·斯坦斯菲尔德、马德隆·霍伊卡斯和谢拉格·瓦克利,但在英国艺术史上几乎没有得到认可或称赞。这部分表演之所以能有效地反击经典,是因为它还以“伦敦学院”的作品为特色,这些艺术家在公共收藏中占主导地位。从威廉·罗森斯坦的《拉宾德拉纳特·泰戈尔》(1912)中描写印度诗人的纸上精美的铅笔,到弗朗西斯·培根冷静的卢西安·弗洛伊德肖像(1964),我们可以看出,这些艺术家的定位赋予了他们驾驭风格、叙述者所需的超视觉性。积极和信息,比其他人更大的速度和规模。尽管展览的主题是探索从某些人口统计中抹去艺术家,但包括著名艺术家如弗兰克·奥尔巴赫、大卫·霍克尼和RB·基塔吉,意味着这个展览最终不会变成一个象征性的一次性展览,而它试图让那些人感到厌烦。

最后,“重复”旨在统一跨文化模式和重复的关键作用。芭芭拉·布朗的《广场》和《安瓦尔·贾拉尔·谢姆扎的战争十四行诗》(1969)等布料作品展示了华丽的构图,为空间带来了另一种美学和物质性。重复线条的使用充分地体现了光学错觉的概念,这种错觉与Bridget Riley(1976)的《Zephyr》(Zephyr)及其起伏的几何条纹的激动人心的颤抖非常吻合。虽然这部剧中的这部分没有其他剧集那样讲究政治,但它在话语中的定位是重新审视我们在思考现代主义和概念艺术时所考虑的人。cf034707.jpg Why Are So Many Great Artworks Acquired by Museums Locked Away in Storage? - 为什么博物馆收藏这么多伟大的艺术品?'Speech Acts:Ref.-想象重复,2018,安装观,曼彻斯特美术馆,曼彻斯特。礼貌:曼彻斯特美术馆,曼彻斯特。博伊斯在展览的序言中写道,博伊斯反思了艺术家和作家拉希德。阿莱恩的过去言论,如果一个英国黑人艺术家的作品被公共收藏品购买,它必然会进入冷藏室,永远不会被收藏。再看一遍。这个节目的议程很明确,那就是,在研究哪些作品成为时代精神的支柱时,种族和传统不能脱离等式。“言语行为:反思-想象-重复”提出的问题比它回答的问题多得多,但是考虑到这片未知的土地,我们在作出教条式声明之前,首先用正确的语调进行假设是很重要的。有一些有形的行动,策略和工作,必须致力于确定我们的艺术收藏如何建设和呈现-这并没有以收购结束。最终的使命必须是不断挑战、争论和呼唤博物馆收藏和悬挂的同质化。如果艺术反映生活,那么博物馆需要向我们展示艺术家反映我们时代的艺术。“言语行为:反思-想象-重复”在曼彻斯特美术馆一直运行到2019年4月22日。查看,曼彻斯特美术馆,曼彻斯特。礼貌:曼彻斯特美术馆,曼彻斯特卡迪什莫里斯s g Ir.com她总部在伦敦。李元甲对曼彻斯特非殖民化的看法


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