Iconoclasm: Tate Britain to showcase art that has been blown up, defaced, dyed and mutilated
The first exhibition exploring the history of British iconoclasm opens in October
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Friday 05 July 2013
The Tate is to display artwork that has been defaced, chopped into pieces, blown up and melted for an exhibition into iconoclasm, the first in Britain. One work that will not be part of the show, however, is the painting by Mark Rothko defaced at Tate Modern last year.
Art under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm will open at Tate Britain in October and among the prized objects on show is Statue of the Dead Christ, which lay hidden for 500 years.
The show will look at “deliberate physical acts against works of art” but only those backed by ideology. The curators wanted to distinguish the pieces from acts of random vandalism.
Clearly they include the attack on the Rothko in the latter category. Penelope Curtis, director of Tate Britain, said: “We wanted to look at things that had gathered significance over time and not something that happened to be topical.”
The subject of iconoclasm was something Tate Britain “ought to do,” she said and had thought of it as a potential exhibition before she took over at the gallery three years ago.
She said: “There has been no exhibition to explore that history of iconoclasm in Britain,” adding it was a “very hard exhibition to make. Often it’s dealing with fragments or things that were hidden.”
The Statue of the Dead Christ, dated to between 1500 and 1520, was described as one of the most important sculptures to survive the destruction of religious reformers in the 16th century.
It was discovered in 1954 at the Mercers’ Hall in the City of London under the floor of its chapel during clearance following bomb damage. The work is missing its crown of thorns, arms and lower legs.
Curator Tabitha Barber pointed to the importance of the work, saying: “It’s a difficult statistic to quantify but historians have estimated that over 90 per cent of pre-Reformation imagery has been lost and much of what remains is in a mutilated state.”
As well as works damaged following the Reformation, the exhibition will include two paintings damaged by Suffragettes: Edward Burne-Jones’s Sibylla Delphica and John Singer Sargent’s Henry James.
Also included is the head of a statue of William III blown up in Ireland, a portrait of Oliver Cromwell hung upside down by a monarchist supporter and Carl Andre’s work known as the “pile of bricks” which was damaged with blue dye by an angry member of the public.
Ms Curtis does not think the exhibition will provoke further incidents. She said: “I hope it is not tempting fate. It’s a very serious topic and there’s been a lot of scholarly work on it in the last 20 years.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 2 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 3 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 4 George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
- 5 Medina: Saudis take a bulldozer to Islam's history
Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
Great British Bake Off 2014: Ofcom receives 13 complaints about Baked Alaska episode
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >