Exhibition: Migration and British Art
The current exhibition at the Tate Britian “Migrations: Journeys into British Art” examines the contributions and impact that migrant artists have had upon British Art. The exhibition does not limit itself in terms of time span since it takes a whirlwind tour of migration from 16th Century Flemish Portraiture to wartime Jewish Art to post-colonial performance Art and video installations.What is perhaps most interesting about this exhibition is its bold attempt to link these disperate artists and periods by theme searching for a common thread between these pieces but as has been picked up on by Jonathon Jones of the Guardian, that:
“Many of Britain’s greatest artists came to these chilly islands from other places. Others are the children of migrants, or identify themselves as part of a post-colonial diaspora. But what do they all have in common? It’s the question this exhibition forgot to ask itself.”
The contemporary post-colonial response is particularly interesting since it address the very question of migratory representation in Britain itself. This section of the exhibition leaves the visitor with questions concerning the lack of contemporary migrant art representation in Britain and the imbalance of this given that in previous periods it hailed some of the most important British art.
The exhibition choosing to map out three separate ‘migrations’ around the gallery space itself, which enables the viewer to journey around the gallery space and see the pieces in a non-chronological format. This is an interesting take on the usual gallery format, allowing visitors to explore the gallery in various orders.
The most common cause of complaint that is levelled at the exhibition is the poor selection of each artist’s work however this collection was completed largely from the Tate’s own collection. The unpredicability of this exhibition makes it exciting and each section of the will perhaps enlighten viewers as to the context behind some of Britain’s most famous artists. As Richard Dorment of the Telegraph says:
“In an odd way, it’s the very unevenness of Migrations – the experimental mixture of the good and bad, the predictable and the unexpected – that’s what is interesting about it. I can’t tell you you’ll be swept away by the quality of the art…But I also promise you’ll be stimulated, irritated and challenged by a show that really does say something new about British art.”
If you are interested in finding out more about this exhibition, take a look at:
If you are interested in thematic approaches in Art History or post-colonialism, you may be interested in our Art History Summer School on 24th-26th August