A major new exhibition, which uses the extraordinary collection at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
to explore the development of sculpture over the last 110 years, opened in Edinburgh this week. The Sculpture Show highlights the enormous diversity of sculptural practice in this period, bringing together some 150 works, by artists such as Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Barbara Hepworth and Damien Hirst. This fascinating overview of Modern and Contemporary sculpture also includes key loans from private and public collections, and brings the story right up to date, with works by this years Turner Prize winner Martin Boyce and nominee Karla Black.
Simon Groom, Director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art said: 'The Sculpture Show gives us a fantastic opportunity to showcase the huge strengths of the collection in innovative ways. It also allows us to celebrate the specific strengths of contemporary art in Scotland, with the inclusion of works by this years Turner Prize nominee Karla Black and winner Martin Boyce, as well as past winners including Simon Starling, Martin Creed and Douglas Gordon. With major international loans and new commissions, this history of sculpture is the history of how art became contemporary.'
The Sculpture Show takes over both floors of the Gallerys main building, and also extend into the grounds, where a recent work by Roger Hiorns has been installed on Charles Jenckss Landform. Comprising two decommissioned aircraft engines from the United States Air Force, this spectacular work is on loan from the Arts Council Collection and is being shown for the first time in the UK. It joins an array of sculpture on permanent display in the grounds of the Gallerys two buildings, Modern One and Two.
The exhibition demonstrates the depth, richness and range of sculpture in the Gallerys collection. It begins with collages, reliefs and assemblages made by Cubist, Surrealist and Constructivist artists in the early 20th Century (including masterpieces by Picasso and Man Ray), and demonstrates the continuing influence of these techniques throughout the century, up to contemporary artists such as Toby Paterson. Other highlights from the first half of the century include Impressionist sculptures by Degas, Rodin and Medardo Rosso, as well as displays devoted to Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, Eric Gill and Jacob Epstein (including Epsteins rarely seen monumental alabaster carving Consummatum Est (1936-7)).
After a worldwide tour, Ron Muecks monumental work A Girl (2006) has returned to Edinburgh to form the centrepiece of The Sculpture Show. The 5-metre mixed-media sculpture of a newborn baby, rendered in breathtaking detail on an enormous scale, was acquired following the phenomenally successful Mueck exhibition, which drew over 130,000 visitors at the Scottish National Gallery in 2006. A Girl features in a display devoted to Super-realist sculpture, which also includes Duane Hansons celebrated Tourists. Further rooms illustrate the impact of surrealism on sculpture of, or about the human body including works by Marcel Duchamp, Sarah Lucas, Giacometti and Hans Bellmer.
The upper galleries chart developments in sculpture from the 1960s onwards, exploring the ways in which the definition of the artform has expanded in the last 50 years. Crucial to this is the work of artists such as Joseph Beuys, Donald Judd, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Bruce McLean and six new works by the Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, one of the key members of the Arte Povera movement of the 1960s, and one of the elder statesmen of contemporary art. The Way Things Go by Peter Fischli and David Weiss brings film and video into The Sculpture Show, the enchanting 29 minute film features a large kinetic sculpture which comes to life as a 100 foot long chain reaction.
A striking late work by American Minimalist artist Sol LeWitt has been specially installed for the exhibition. Wall Drawing #1136 (2004) covers three walls of a single room, and reaches almost 22 metres in length. The work, which took a team of eight people a month to complete, immerses the viewer in a vibrant world of colour. It comprises 149 vertical bands, hand-painted in an irregular sequence of primary and secondary colours, intersected by the sweeping curved form which snakes around the room. This work, which is part of the ARTIST ROOMS collection, has never before been on display in Scotland.
Throughout the exhibition, a series of changing displays of recent sculpture will be shown. The first of these is devoted to leading Glasgow-based sculptor Nick Evans, who is currently exploring the collection as part of a SNGMA / Creative Scotland Fellowship.
A series of exquisite photographs by Turner Prize winner Martin Boyce, which give the viewer an insight into the artists research and inspirations, are also on display. These images are being shown in conjunction with Untitled (After Rietveld), a haunting fluorescent light work by Boyce which was recently gifted to the galleries.