The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, has unveiled two newly commissioned large-scale ceiling paintings by the British Turner Prize-winning artist Richard Wright. The site-specific permanent installation is situated in two antechambers located to the left and right of the museum’s Night Watch Gallery, where Rembrandt’s celebrated painting will hang. Featuring complex patterns with more than 47,000 thousand hand-painted black stars on a whitebackground, the artwork is inspired by the original 19th centurydecorative wall and ceiling paintings designed by the architect of the Rijksmuseum, Pierre Cuypers.
Through his unique painting methods applied directly onto walls, Richard Wright injects intricate works into often overlooked architectural spaces. The Rijksmuseum commission shows a departure from the artist’s earlier paintings, which are often short-lived, only surviving the length of an exhibition and are then painted over.
Wim Pijbes, General Director of the Rijksmuseum, said: “Richard Wright’s ceiling paintings are an inspiring response to the transformed Rijksmuseum and its collections, and a wonderful addition to our new home.”
The commission is the latest artwork to be unveiled as part of a series of presentations by contemporary artists in and around the Rijksmuseum during the museum’s ten-year transformation. Launched in 2005, A Contemporary View of the Rijksmuseum has been curated by Theo Tegelaers, and is a collaboration between the Rijksmuseum and The Netherlands Government Buildings Agency. Artists including Fiona Tan, Simon Starling, Bik van der Pol, Germaine Creep, Lara Almarcegui, and Wijnanda Deroo, have participated in the project, and a number of the artworks now form part of the Rijksmuseum Collection. The series will conclude with a performance devised by Dutch installation artist Job Koelewijn featuring 800 students on the Museumplein for the Rijksmuseum opening weekend on Sunday 14 April 2013.
Richard Wright (born London, 1960), studied at Edinburgh College of Art and Glasgow School of Art, and now lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland. His oeuvre includes a wide range of works made on paper, from prints on poster paper to elaborate and complex large-scale works that can include thousands of hand drawn and painted marks. His work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions worldwide and is featured in the collections of MoMA, New York;Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach; Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Tate Gallery, London; and Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Richard Wright was awarded the Turner Prize in 2009.
The 10-year renovation of the Rijksmuseum is one of the most significant ever undertaken by a museum. The entire museum has been renewed – the historic 19th-century building has been transformed and new public facilities have been created including a spectacular new entrance hall, a new Asian pavilion and a renovated garden. The museum will feature over 8,000 works of art and artefacts tellingthe story of 800 years of Dutch art and history, from the Middle Ages to thepresent day. The world-famous collection, including masterpieces by artists such as Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn, will be presented in chronological sequence for the first time, creating an awareness of time and a sense of beauty.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam opens to the public on 13 April 2013