New Director, Contemporary British Masterworks at RISD Museum

 

 

The tremendous energy of post World War II in Britain --  think of the Mods and Rockers, Carnaby Street, The Beatles, Mick Jagger, the Angry Young Men playwrights, painter Francis Bacon -- was exploding throughout the UK's art world as well, creating entirely new perspectives on what actually constitutes visual art.

 

A highlight of the Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design is its extraordinary collection of contemporary British art, on display in an exciting new exhibition, "Made in the UK: Contemporary Art from the Richard Brown Baker Collection". The exhibition richly captures Britain's contemporary art scene as it emerged from World War II to
become a prominent force on the world stage today.

 

"Made in the UK" celebrates works by British artists from the 1950s through the present and includes such major figures as Tacita Dean, David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, Anish Kapoor, Jim Lambie, Julian Opie, Bridget Riley, and Yinka Shonibare. Many of the artists in the exhibition are represented at the Tate and other important British collections, but are not seen in depth in American museums. This exhibition of approximately 100 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, and more, focuses on Baker’s collecting, decade by decade—revealing important British contributions to and the international nature of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Geometric Abstraction, Optical Art, and Photorealism. It culminates in conceptual works by the Young British Artists (YBAs)—including Jake and Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread—who took the art world by storm in the 1990s and are still highly influential today. "Made in the UK" is co-curated by Jan Howard, Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, and Judith Tannenbaum, Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art.

 

Richard Brown Baker’s Park Avenue apartment, April 1995.

Photo © Jerry Thompson. Courtesy of the artist.

 

Newport Seen along with  Rhode Island  and Arts reporters, was introduced to, and welcomed by, the Museum's new Director John Smith, who said “Richard Brown Baker possessed a daring and finely-tuned eye for collecting works by gifted young artists on the verge of success, He not only donated outstanding works of art to the Museum, but also provided acquisition funds to allow us to build on his remarkable legacy. Thanks to his generosity, the RISD Museum’s collection of contemporary British art is one of the finest in the United States.” Gifts from Baker to RISD include important works by Prunella Clough, Alan Davie, Hockney, Hodgkin, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson, Riley, and William Scott.

 

New Director of the RISD Museum of Art, John Smith, welcoming media

Baker (1912-2002),was himself a Providence native, member of the Museum’s Fine Arts Committee, and important collector of contemporary American and European art was renowned in the arts as a “collector’s collector” (New York Times). Based in New York after 1952, his reputation was built by quietly supporting emerging artists, many of whom have become the most influential artists of their time.


“He never lost the thrill of discovering new talent and continuing to support those whose work he had previously collected,” said Howard. “Because the British works would be separated from the bulk of his collection, he was eager that they be judged of importance as a group.”

 

An image of art collector Richard Brown Baker at the RISD

Museum of Art

Baker—a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford who later lived in London during World War II—donated 136 works of  British art to RISD, so that the Museum now has one of the strongest collections of modern and contemporary British art in this country.


In his diaries he wrote, “As I obtained my Rhodes Scholarship from Rhode Island, I feel that I am making a kind of gesture to England and to my native city by this gift.”

 

RISD Museum curators continue to collect in the spirit of Baker through the Richard Brown Baker Fund for Contemporary British Art, which is enabling the Museum to purchase paintings, sculpture, and drawings by living British artists. Recent purchases underscore the tremendous diversity of contemporary British culture and include works by Fiona Banner, Martin Boyce, Dean, Emin, Mona Hatoum, Roger Hiorns, Hirst, Shirazeh Houshiary, Kapoor, Lambie, Hew Locke, Richard Long, Opie, Kathy Prendergast, and Shonibare. A gift from Baker in 2000 established the Museum's Contemporary Art department and endowed the curator's position.

 

Curator Tannenbaum desribes the collection's selection process


Richard Brown Baker’s passion for contemporary art and his generosity to the RISD Museum continue to have an invaluable impact on our community,” says Tannenbaum. “His prescient focus on the work of British artists creates a distinctive strength for us to build on for generations to come.”

 

                                                                           - L.P.

 


 

 (Editor's note:   A 64-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition, concentrating on Baker’s British art and including the works acquired by RISD since 2005 with the Richard Brown Baker Fund for Contemporary British Art. Curators Judith Tannenbaum and Jan Howard also contributed to the book Get There First, Decide Promptly: The Richard BrownBaker Collection of Postwar Art, by Jennifer Farrell, et al. (Yale University Art Gallery in cooperation with Yale  University Press), forthcoming in 2011.)


                                                                 -

 

 

 

The exhibition will run through January 8, 2012. The RISD Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm, and until 9 pm every Thursday. Free admission 5 to 9 pm on third Thursdays and all day the last Saturday of each month, and pay-what-you-wish every Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm. Closed January 1, July 4, the month of August, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25. Admission is $10 adults; $7 seniors (age 62+); $3 college students with valid ID and youths (ages 5-18); and free for Museum members, RISD and Brown University students andstaff, and children under 5.


For more information, call 401 454-6500 or visit www.risdmuseum.org.

 

 

A thoughtful and historical perspective on the works

Taking notes on the YBA art explosion

A take on the costumes for Verdi's "Un Ballo en Maschera"

by Yinka Shonibare

 A witty register cover as art

A rock installation in one of the Chace Center's galleries at the

RISD Museum of Art

Vivian Zavala shows the exhibition catalog in the RISD Museum's risd|works


Installation view of Made in the UK: Contemporary Art from the Richard Brown Baker Collection, September 23, 2011-January 8, 2012. Courtesy of theMuseum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence.

Installation view of Made in the UK: Contemporary Art from the Richard Brown Baker Collection, September 23, 2011-January 8, 2012. Courtesy of the Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence.

Yinka Shonibare, Un Ballo in Maschera (Courtiers V), 2004.

Richard Brown Baker Fund for Contemporary British Art. © Yinka Shonibare,

MBE. Courtesy Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

A view across the gallery space

Tom Dixon, Chair, 2007. Richard Brown Baker Fund for Contemporary British Art.Courtesy Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

Patrick Caulfield, Still Life with Bottle and Two Glasses, 1965. Bequest
of Richard Brown Baker. © Patrick Caulfield. Courtesy Museum of
Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence.

Howard Hodgkin, Moonlight, 1972. Bequest of Richard Brown Baker. © Howard
Hodgkin. Courtesy Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

David Hockney, Plastic Tree Plus City Hall, 1964. Gift of Richard Brown Baker.

© David Hockney. Courtesy Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design

Peter Lanyon, Airscape, 1961. Gift of Richard Brown Baker. ©Peter Lanyon.

Courtesy Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

Damien Hirst, Utopia, 2008. Richard Brown Baker Fund for Contemporary

British Art.© Damien Hirst. Courtesy Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

Bob and Roberta Smith, Tate Modern, 2008. Richard Brown Baker Fund for Contemporary British Art. © Bob and Roberta Smith. Courtesy Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

Bridget Riley, Gather, 1981. Bequest of Richard Brown Baker.

© Bridget Riley 2011. Allrights reserved, courtesy Karsten Schubert,

London. Courtesy Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence.

Jim Lambie, Durriti Column, 2007. Richard Brown Baker Fund

for Contemporary BritishArt. © Jim Lambie. Photo: Andy Keate.

John A. Parks, Camden Town, 1980. Gift of Richard Brown
Baker. © John A. Parks. Courtesy Museum of Art Rhode Island
School of Design, Providence

 Images courtesy of RISD Museum and NewportSeen.com

 

 

  
 


 

 

 

 

 

Past Headlines

Newport Yacht Rendezvous Benefits Boys & Girls Club with Splash!

“Yachts are the closest a commoner can get to sovereignty.&rdquo ... more »

Bucolic “Sakonnet Summer” Celebration for Aquidneck Land Trust

On the beautiful g ... more »

Caramba, La Bamba! at 17th Annual Polo Ball

Tom Eberhard ... more »

 

 



 

NEWPORT SEEN:  "Best Online Media Creation"

-

"Best Online Writing" 

                         -- CT Press club & National League of Press Women