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National Gallery to lend its Crivelli masterpieces to Birmingham's Ikon Gallery for award-winning exhibition
Carlo Crivelli, The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius, 1486, Egg and oil on canvas, 207 x 146.7 cm © The National Gallery, London.

LONDON.- Ikon Gallery in Birmingham is the winner of the inaugural £125,000 Ampersand Foundation Award which will enable the gallery to realise its dream of staging an exhibition of works by the 15th century master, Carlo Crivelli. The Trustees of the National Gallery in London have agreed to lend four masterpieces by Crivelli for the exhibition.

The exhibition Carlo Crivelli. Radical Illusionism in the 15th Century will be presented at Ikon during summer 2021. The Ikon’s exhibition proposal fought off strong competition from four other shortlisted galleries across the UK.

Jonathan Watkins, Ikon’s Director said: “An exhibition of work by the 15th century painter Carlo Crivelli is not only a dream come true for Ikon, but also something that I have always really wanted to do. Since being an undergraduate I have been fascinated by Crivelli, at once very “traditional” in a northern Italian style but pointing towards a postmodern art historical future unlike any other pre-modern artist. In other words, arguably, Carlo Crivelli was as radical as Magritte. How often he crops up in my conversations with artists – who acknowledge him, positively, as an artist’s artist - and I keep on revisiting, literally, through pilgrimages to museum collections.”

The exhibition will highlight Crivelli’s experimental use of single point perspective and trompe l’oeil to assert the coexistence of terrestrial and spiritual realities. Crivelli played with the idea of paintings as windows onto other worlds, at once suggesting and undermining illusionism. At the same time he used sculptural relief to create illusions of illusionism. Such cleverness was conveyed with consummate craftsmanship and at the same time foiled by an exquisite and elegant beauty.

The Ampersand Foundation Award is open to all the current members of the Plus Tate network. It aims to enable the winning institution to realise its dream project in the form of an exhibition, new commission, public space intervention or any other kind of project. There are no restrictions on the subject or format of the proposal except that it must be delivered by a curator, director or a team of curators working within the institution.

The winner is awarded £125,000 to realise their proposal and all its associated costs, and an additional £25,000 to produce a related publication. The shortlisted institutions each receive £5,000.

Dr Caroline Campbell, National Gallery Director of Collections and Research, said: “The National Gallery was created for the benefit of the British public, but we recognise that a number of visitors may find it difficult to make the journey to London – that it is why it is really important to us to work with galleries like Ikon. We hope that Carlo Crivelli. Radical Illusionism in the 15th Century will allow some of our great masterpieces to reach people who have never visited their national collection or haven’t done so for a long time, and maybe inspire them to visit or revisit the collection.”

Flor Souto, Director of the Ampersand Foundation, said: “What we want to achieve with this award is to enable curators and directors working in a tough funding environment to realise a project that they have always wanted to do but have been unable to do so far due to funding pressure.”

The institutions which were shortlisted for the award are: Camden Arts Centre, London, Firstsite, Colchester, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes and South London Gallery, London.

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