ART / Saving faces at the NPG: For years, the National Portrait Gallery has been stuffed to the gills. Dalya Alberge celebrates an extra 921 square metres . . .
Tuesday 16 November 1993
For those in the arts world who last month criticised the Prime Minister's approval of an outsider to succeed John Hayes as director of the NPG, this must imply a snub. None is intended, according to one NPG employee, who points out that the Royal Family is in the same room.
The new marble-clad galleries - some 921 square metres at the rear of the building - have replaced administrative offices which have moved to new premises over the road. The additional space gives the NPG a third more hanging space, urgently needed both for temporary displays and the permanent collection (some 9,000 works), which have been bunched up for years. Some of the exhibits were on turntables that rotated every minute: if you wanted to linger over a work, you had to wait for the carousel to come round again.
Giving more space to the 20th century was particularly important. As Dr Hayes points out, it is the gallery's most popular period with visitors - and one that attracts younger people. 'They can relate more to the history of their own time,' says Hayes. 'They come to see the characters they've seen in newspapers and on television.' And as photographic shows have also drawn some of the highest attendance figures, new displays will mix photographic images with painted, sculpted and drawn ones.
For the first time, too, there is permanent space for works which reflect that the NPG's finger is on the pulse of contemporary art.
There will, for example, be the memorable video portrait by Marty St James and Anne Wilson of Duncan Goodhew, the Olympic gold- medal swimmer: in it, fragmented images of him swim across 11 television screens to a soundtrack of splashing water. And the space opens with the first ever international survey of contemporary portraiture, including works by Lucian Freud and Anthony Wilson.
It's well worth a visit. After all, where else could you find Lisa Stansfield, the pop star, rubbing shoulders with Lord Hume?
Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandalbooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 Now diplomacy has failed, boycotting Israel might be the only way we can protect the people of Gaza
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 Kelsey Grammer forgives the man who raped and murdered his sister in 1975
Game of Thrones actress Aimee Richardson begs for 'other princess work' after Myrcella Baratheon part is recast
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming in August 2014
Cultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
The Walking Dead season 5 will see deaths of 'favourite characters', suggests Andrew Lincoln
Edinburgh Festival 2014: Israeli show The City pulled after pro-Palestinian protests
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
- < Previous
- Next >