Modern British Sculpture New Royal Academy Exhibition

The first major 20th century British sculpture exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts for 30 years is set to take place early next year.The survey will be a chronological tour to ”represent a unique view of the development of British sculpture” Works have been chosen to  highlight the artists’ figurative and abstract choices, comparing works such as Phillip King’s Genghis Khan and Edwin Lutyens’s Cenotaph. Works will include Hirst’s Let’s Eat Outdoors Today – a glass-encased picnic table covered with live flies. A reclining figure by Moore, Jacob Epstein’s Adam and Hepworth’s Single Form will feature in the 10-week exhibition. Dry-stone wall specialists will recreate the half-century-old work by  Kurt Schwitters, Merz Barn, which remained unfinished at his death in 1948.rebuilt in the RA’s courtyard, off London’s Piccadilly.

Modern British Sculpture, backed by the American Express Foundation and The Henry Moore Foundation, will run until April 7.

About the exhibition

In 2011, the Royal Academy of Arts will present the first exhibition for 30 years to examine British sculpture of the twentieth century. The show will represent a unique view of the development of British sculpture, exploring what we mean by the terms British and sculpture by bringing the two together in a chronological series of strongly themed galleries, each making its own visual argument.

The exhibition will take a fresh approach, replacing the traditional survey with a provocative set of juxtapositions that will challenge the viewer to make new connections and break the mould of old conceptions.

Key British works include: Alfred Gilbert Queen Victoria, Phillip King Genghis Khan, Jacob Epstein Adam, Barbara Hepworth Single Form, Leon Underwood Totem to the Artist, Henry Moore Festival Figure, Anthony Caro Early One Morning, Richard Long Chalk Line, Julian Opie W and Damien Hirst Let’s Eat Outdoors Today.

Through these and other works, the exhibition will examine British sculpture’s dialogue within a broader international context, highlighting the ways in which Britain’s links with its Empire, continental Europe and the United States have helped shape an art that at its best is truly international in scope and significance.

The selection of works is not limited to the British Isles, but looks outward at Britain in the world including sculpture from Native American, Indian, and African traditions. These will be represented by a series of significant loans from the British Museum and the V&A, which will be shown alongside modern British sculptures from the period 1910-1930 to highlight the inquisitiveness of British artists when the Empire was at its peak and London was, almost literally, the centre of the world. The visitor will be invited to make comparisons between these pieces and consider the dramatic effect that non-western techniques, iconography and cultural sensibility had on the development of British sculpture at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The exhibition is designed to be site-specific in relation to its own location at the Royal Academy in London. It will show how, for over 100 years, London and its museums have had a powerful appeal for sculptors, and how the Royal Academy itself has played a significant and controversial role in shaping modern British sculpture. To highlight the extent of the Royal Academy’s influence, the exhibition will also feature sculptures by three of its former presidents – Frederic Leighton, Charles Wheeler and Phillip King.

The survey willprovide a view onto this period of modern British sculpture without attempting to be comprehensive or definitive in its treatment of the subject. As such, it will represent a point of view about the work of the period and seek to highlight certain ways of looking at sculpture by thinking about its relationship with the wider world.

The exhibition will run from 22 January – 7 April Royal Academy of Arts

Burlington House Piccadilly,London W1J 0BD

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