The London art gallery experiences is renowned the world over, with establishments such as the Saachi gallery, and events such as the Frieze Art fair, the capital has a reputation for showcasing some of the best artists from around the world. We take a brief look at some of the past exhibitions that have had major coverage in the art press that have been based in London.
Damien Hurst is well known as one of the most notorious Young British Artists. With works consisting of animals in formaldehyde and diamond encrusted skulls, his context has a commentary that relates to death and identity. A London art gallery exhibition featuring a crucified sheep in a triptych was showcased next to a retrospective of the work of Francis Bacon.
Before his death, Bacon heralded Hurst's work as a major and important contribution to the art world, and as such would have been happy to have had a joint exhibition. The sheep triptych mirrored the aesthetics of Bacon's paintings and worked well in context too, a mix of death and identity.
Although the mediums were a world apart, the subject matter was easy to connect and it was obvious that Hurst has long been in awe of the paintings that Bacon has produced over his lifetime. The exhibition purposely featured works that complemented one another in a feat of curator genius. Francis Bacon had a much larger show at Tate Britain recently, where work that was separated into eras of the painter's life showed the progression of his style.
The most notable feature was that over his life, the subject matter in his work never changed, and apart from a brief diversion in style that paid tribute to Van Gogh, mutilated figures and a specific palette spoke volumes about his battle with identity and public image. Just before his death however, a lightness came into his work, and one painting held a Hockney aesthetic. The blue palette and a sense of stillness seemed to show that Bacon had found peace against his personal battles.
London art gallery exhibitions such as these give the viewer a greater insight into the work of artists, their interaction with each other, the influences exerted, and above all, a contextualisation of progression. Without these major exhibitions it is not possible to truly appreciate the work of great artists, as each art work or exhibition is a small slice of an ever progressing body of work.