Monthly Archives: March 2019

What You Need to Know About Tracey Emin: A Grand Return

We are showcasing a series of blog posts written by our second year students as part of our Engaging Art History module which introduces students to ideas of public engagement in museums and galleries, and how to use the knowledge gained during their studies to speak to a wide range of audiences. Our first post is by Naomi Bruneel…

‘I’ve always been an advocate of women being able to tell how it feels’ – Emin

Very much to my excitement, Tracey Emin, who first rose to fame in the 1990’s as one of the Young British Artists, made a return to the London art scene since this February with her exhibition A Fortnight of Tears at the White Cube.

Emin

Emin at the press release of ‘A Fortnight of Tears’

After cutting ties with her American gallery in 2016 and retreating to the South of France, Emin has reappeared with her new exhibition ‘A Fortnight of Tears’, held at Bermondsey’s White Cube Gallery. The exhibition features a range of media including painting, photography, film, sculpture and drawing, as well as her infamous neon signs. The exhibition is a big ‘emotional time bomb’ which consists of Emin, as a now matured woman, looking back at her past experiences.

One thing you must understand about Emin’s work is that it is very personal and confessional. Her artworks often relate to her troubled teenage years and early adulthood. My Bed (1998) was her seminal piece that explored the raw and emotional period that followed her horrific abortion. She admits that ‘this bed probably saved my life’, after laying there for 4 days.

When first exhibited, the installation stirred a lot of commentary due its provocative nature: the bed included bottles of alcohol, contraception, tampons and underwear stained with bodily fluids. Reconnecting with the installation many years later, Emin states that it is like looking back at a ghost, a ghost of the woman she no longer is.

Emin Bed.jpg

You should also know that Emin is a strong advocate of gender equality and female liberation. Emin’s artworks are critical of the expectations of women having to marry and create a family. When Emin first fell pregnant, she was shocked as she had been previously told by a doctor that she would never be able to conceive. Now commenting on the absence of a husband and child, Emin believes that she chose the right path. She worries that she would have neglected her art and in turn resent her family. Emin states that when she does (temporarily) neglect her art, she becomes depressed and her body physically stiffens. Luckily for us (and Bermondsey’s White Cube Gallery), her body is in full swing again!

Since the beginning, Egon Schiele and Käthe Kollwitz have been inspirational figures behind Emin’s art, especially her drawings. In 2015, the Leopold Museum in Vienna exhibited more than 80 of Emin’s works alongside Schiele’s to show the rooted connection between the two artists. Similar drawings feature in ‘A Fortnight of Tears’: pink abstracted representations of the female body create an interesting, but also aesthetic, contrast with the clinical white gallery space.

The exhibition also features an ‘insomnia’ room, which displays 50 close-up bed selfies of Emin at her most wakeful hours – very much #nofilter.

Emin Insomnia.jpg

Make sure you don’t fall asleep and miss the ‘insomnia’ room in ‘A Fortnight of Tears’

Returning to her British roots, ‘A Fortnight of Tears’ explores how over the years, Emin has transformed from a young girl of alcohol and sex, to a woman of wisdom and compassion. Her emotions have remained at the forefront of her artworks and her passion is still their driving force. Even though we no longer see the vulnerability of a young adult, Emin displays her journey of growth, a path to which we can all identity with.

After seeing the exhibition, I’d highly recommend you pay a visit too!

Here are the details:

6 February 2019 – 7 April 201,

White Cube Bermondsey, 144 – 152 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3TQ

https://whitecube.com/exhibitions/exhibition/tracey_emin_bermondsey_2019

Free Admission

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My Internship at the Capodimonte Museum in Naples!

FREYA SAMUEL (Joint Honours History of Art and Italian; currently on a Year Abroad in Italy)

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Arriving for the first day of the internship 

As a part of my year abroad, I was lucky enough to work at the Museo di Capodimonte, in Naples, Italy, for three months. It is a beautiful art gallery in the south of Italy, in a city steeped in cultural heritage and ancient landmarks. The museum was originally a residence of the Bourbon family and houses a huge collection of Italian paintings from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries, as well as an important collection of ancient Roman sculpture.

During my time at the museum, I had the opportunity to do and see some amazing things. Within my first few weeks, I had watched the arrival and installation of several artworks into the museum’s permanent public collection, including Caravaggio’s The Flagellation of Christ, 1607. I also worked on the renovation of the De Ciccio Collection and got to assist in the cleaning and restoration of an ancient Roman sculpture, the Head of Augustus from 11 A.D. One of the most exciting moments was the first time I went into a deposit – this is where the museum stores all the paintings that are not on display. There are over 5000 works in total and there just isn’t enough space to display them all at once. The deposits are real treasure troves! Seeing the secret rooms filled with beautiful paintings, some of which had never been displayed in public, really made me realise how unique and exciting the experience was.

The installation of Caravaggio’s Flagellation of Christ

Installation of Caravaggio’s Flagellation

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Inside the Museum’s stores

I worked in the Collections Department of the museum. Initially, I began in the deposits creating new inventories to replace the historic archives. However, the focus of my internship changed when the museum proposed the exhibition of the deposits, called Depositi di Capodimonte: La Storia Ancora da Scrivere (The Deposits of Capodimonte: A Story to be Told). The exhibition timescale was just three months (which happened to be the period of my internship) and aimed to display a range of never-before-seen artworks across 9 rooms of the gallery. It was a huge challenge for the whole team, but it was fantastic to see the exhibition develop from the initial proposal to opening.

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I experienced many different areas of the exhibition set-up. Initially, I assisted in organising and digitalising wall plans for the layout of artworks in the exhibition, which was an insightful and creative experience. I went on to analyse and document the state of conservation of paintings, whilst assessing their suitability to be exhibited. I also worked on the translation from Italian to English of the press releases and the titles and captions to accompany paintings. The experience gave me a rich insight into the different aspects of putting together an exhibition, particularly because I was working alongside the Head of Collections, who was the designated Head Curator for this project. This allowed me to work closely alongside the curatorial team to gain a comprehensive understanding of the exhibition process.

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Exhibition selections coming together …. 

My internship at the Museo di Capodimonte was beneficial to me in so many ways. I now have hands-on experience of setting up an exhibition in a national gallery, and my Italian language skills have improved beyond recognition ( … but this was not easy, and it took me a long time to get used to the Neapolitan accent!). Naples is also a great place to live, visiting places like Pompeii and Herculaneum on the weekends, and I am so glad my year aboard gave me the opportunity to experience such a wonderful place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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