Art in Print

Near identical photos shot 85 years apart in new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery

Two almost identical images that were created nearly nine decades apart are being brought together at a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. The photographs by French surrealist Claude Cahun and 1997 Turner prize-winner Gillian Wearing will go side by side at the show next year.

Cahun, who described herself as “neuter”, has been hailed as a pioneer for transgender artists. She defied convention in a romantic and creative relationship with her step-sister Marcel Moore. Cahun challenged gender norms though her work, using wigs, costumes and masks to change her appearance for a series of self-portraits. One of these, 1927’s “I Am In Training, Don’t Kiss Me”, was recreated by Wearing in her 2012 work, titled “Me As Cahun Holding A Mask On My Face”. Next March, the two photographs will go on show as part of Gillian Wearing And Claude Cahun: Behind The Mask, Another Mask.

 The National Portrait Gallery’s spring season also includes an exhibition of the leading British abstract artist Howard Hodgkin, in a collection titled Absent Friends. The gallery’s director, Nicholas Cullinan, said the season “brings together a landmark survey of the portraits of one of Britain’s greatest colourists together with an inspired parallel survey of the works of two innovative artists who, despite living in different time periods, share similar preoccupations with the nature of self-portraiture and identity”. 

 Via Evening Standard


Going digital: fourth plinth gives rainy Brexit London the thumbs up

A seven metre-high thumbs up installation on the fourth plinth was unveiled in Trafalgar Square on Thursday morning. “What this represents is so important,” said the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, revealing the latest artwork to occupy the renowned spot. “Optimism. Positivity. The best of us. Particularly post-Brexit, the three most important words I say are ‘London is open’ and this shows Londoners, visitors to London, tourists, EU citizens, immigrants that London is open.”

 The giant thumb is the work called “Really Good” by artist David Shrigley and is the 11th contemporary art sculpture to be shown on the plinth. It was four years ago that Shrigley first came up with the idea of a giant thumbs up, so he had no inkling it would be seen in a Brexit context. But that’s fine, he said. “It is such an ambiguous thing which you can quite easily project your own meaning on to, it could endorse something I didn’t want to endorse.

 “My line is that it means whatever you want it to mean, but it doesn’t mean ‘that’.” “That” for Shrigley would be a rightwing message, although the interpretation is clearly out of his control. “It is an interesting thing and a scary thing. There is still time. There is potential for the meaning to change.” Shrigley hopes the thumb will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, that things considered bad – the weather, the economy, politics – will benefit from the positivity contained in the work.

 Via The Guardian