William Turnbull, a major figure of post-war British art is presented in a new exhibition exploring his work. The show at Chatsworth House runs from 10 March – 30 June 2013. This will be a rare opportunity to see this leading artist’s work which will include large-scale outdoor sculptures, paintings and drawings shown in the spectacular setting of this impressive stately home and Garden.
Born in Dundee in 1922, he began his career as an illustrator for D.C. Thomson, before joining the Royal Air Force in 1941, serving as a pilot in the Second World War. After the war, he studied painting and sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art, before moving to Paris in 1948 where he had close contact with a circle of artists that included Fernand Léger, Alberto Giacometti and Constantin Brancusi.
He returned to London in 1950, having his first major exhibition at the Hanover Gallery in 1952 and in the same year he participated in the seminal exhibition,New Aspects of British Sculpture, at the Venice Biennale, selected by Herbert Read. He was one of the protagonists in the influential Independent Group in the 1950s at the ICA, with Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi, James Stirling and Colin St John Wilson, among others. Turnbull was one of the first artists to embrace American Abstract Expressionism, creating lasting relationships with Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman.
Over the last 60 years, he has exhibited extensively. Among his one-man exhibitions are the ICA, London (1957), Hayward Gallery, London (1968), a retrospective at Tate Gallery, London (1973), Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco (1988-9), Serpentine Gallery, London (1995-6), Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield (2005). Group shows include Symbol and Imagination 1951-1980, a survey of British sculpture at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1982, andGeometry of Fear: British Sculpture of the 1950s, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art 2011.
Turnbull’s works are held in major public collections including Tate, National Galleries of Scotland, Leeds Museum and Galleries, The British Council and Arts Council and in leading American collections in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, and New York.
The exhibition William Turnbull at Chatsworth is curated by Yorkshire Sculpture Park with Alex Turnbull. The exhibition catalogue will include texts by Patrick Elliott, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and Clare Lilley, Director of Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It is only the third show devoted to a single artist to be held at Chatsworth. The first featured large-scale outdoor work by Anthony Caro in Spring 2012, and the second, Sotheby’s annual Beyond Limits exhibition of contemporary sculpture in the Chatsworth garden, featured work by Barry Flanagan in Autumn 2012.
Chatsworth, set in the heart of the Peak District, is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. As well as its inspiring architecture, landscape and fascinating history, Chatsworth also houses the Devonshire Collection, one of Europe’s most significant art collections.
Successive generations of the Devonshire family have commissioned leading artists as well as up-and-coming makers since the 17th century, and the 21st century is no exception. The 12th Duke and Duchess, and their son and daughter-in-law, share their predecessors’ enthusiasm for contemporary art. Fine and decorative art acquired over nearly 50 years, is shown on the visitor route as well as used in their private apartments. Family portraits by Lucian Freud and Michael Craig Martin share rooms with work by Sir Anthony Caro and Ai Weiwei. Outdoor sculpture by Allen Jones, Barry Flanagan and Richard Long has joined the 18th-century marbles in the garden; silver by Hiroshi Suzuki and Kay Ivanovich sits alongside baroque metalwork inside the house; and a recent table in ceramic by James Rigler pushes the boundaries of craft.
Chatsworth House, Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1PP
Chatsworth House and Garden are open every day from 10 March until 23 December in 2013. Further information regarding exhibitions and ticket price, as well as online booking can be found at www.chatsworth.org
Photo: © ArtLyst 2012