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Conceptual Art in Britain 1964-1979 shows how artists working in Britain transformed the nature of art. The exhibition traces the course of this pivotal movement from its origins in the mid-1960s through to the late 1970s, bringing together 70 works by 21 artists to demonstrate the radical, thought-provoking and politically-engaged nature of this defining period in art history.
Conceptual artists made ideas the essence of their art. This exhibition positions conceptual art not as a style but rather a game-changing shift in the way we think about art, how it is made and what it is for. Conceptual art emerged during a time of political and social change. Surveying a period which spanned Harold Wilson’s first Labour government to the election of Margaret Thatcher, the exhibition shows how conceptual art drew its material from the real world and how conceptual artists took art beyond its traditional boundaries. Seminal works include Michael Craig-Martin’s An Oak Tree 1973 – a glass of water on a glass shelf, alongside a text suggesting possible meanings of the work – and Roelof Louw’s Soul City (Pyramid of Oranges) 1967 – a pile of fruit from which visitors are invited to take a piece.
Conceptual artists often employed theory and philosophy to produce work that invited analysis and enquiry rather than purely contemplation. Influential figures such as Art & Language, Keith Arnatt, Richard Long, Bruce McLean and Stephen Willats prioritised ideas, concepts and artistic processes over material forms. The exhibition examines how artists questioned the nature of art and addressed issues of society, politics and identity, including Victor Burgin’s critique of modern consumerism, Possession 1976, Mary Kelly’s examination of the mother-child relationship in her Post-Partum Document 1974-8, and Conrad Atkinson’s Northern Ireland 1968 - May Day 1975 1975-6, which uses photography and text to represent different points of view in the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The exhibition features the work of such artists as Sue Arrowsmith, Braco Dimitrijević, Barry Flanagan, Hamish Fulton, Margaret Harrison, Ed Herring, Susan Hiller, John Hilliard, John Latham, Bob Law and David Tremlett, and also provides a unique chance to see over 250 archival objects rarely on public display. The exhibition frames a multiplicity of voices and positions, revealing the key role played by British art schools such as Saint Martin’s School of Art, the Royal College of Art and Coventry School of Art in the formation of a ground-breaking generation of artists. Seminal exhibitions at the #tate Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery and ICA are also explored.
Conceptual Art in Britain 1964 –1979 traces the course of conceptual art to demonstrate its intrinsic engagement with the spirit of its time, and reveal its implications for the art of today.It is curated by Andrew Wilson, Curator Modern and Contemporary British Art and Archives, with Carmen Juliá, Assistant Curator Contemporary British Art. It is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue by #tate Publishing and a programme of talks and events in the gallery.
For press information contact Kate.Moores@tate.org.uk or Daisy.Taylor@tate.org.uk or call +44 (0)20 7887 8730. For high-resolution images visit tate.org.uk/press
Curator’s Talk and Private View Friday 13 May, 18.30–20.30 (£20, concessions available) Andrew Wilson, curator of Conceptual Art in Britain: 1964–1979, will give an exclusive insight into the creation of this exhibition followed by a private view.
The Practicing Feminist Saturday 21 May, 15.00–18.00 (£15, concessions available) Artists, art historians and cultural workers explore the politics of the exhibition through conversation and performance.
Curator’s Talk and Private View Friday 24 June, 18.30–20.30 (£20, concessions available) Tate Britain’s Carmen Juliá,will discuss the exhibition followed by a private view.
Prospect 71 Projection Monday 9 May, 19.00–21.00 (£8, £6 concessions) Films and videos by Barry Flanagan, John Hilliard, David Lamelas, John Latham, Bruce McLean, Tony Morgan and David Tremlett.
Other Propositions Monday 6 June, 19.00–21.00 (£8, £6 concessions) Films and videos by Roger Ackling, Braco Dimitrijević, Tony Morgan, David Lamelas and Art & Language.
Documentary Monday 4 July, 19.00–21.00 (£8, £6 concessions) Films and videos by Mary Kelly, Conrad Atkinson and Darcy Lange.
For further information visit tate.org.uk/film
12 April – 29 August 2016 Tate Britain, Level 2 Galleries Supported by #tate Patrons Admission £12.00 (£10.90 without donation). Concession £10.50 (without donation £9.50) Open daily from 10.00 – 18.00 For public information call +44 (0)20 7887 8888, visit #tate.org.uk, follow @Tate ConceptualArtGB
lead image keith arnatt art as an act of retraction
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