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Still Lives exhibition to open this spring at The Hepworth Wakefield

19 Jan 2024

Opening on 1 March 2024, The Hepworth Wakefield will present a new exhibition focusing on the theme of still life.

Still Lives will display more than 70 works by over 50 artists across two galleries, illustrating the enduring nature of the still life genre throughout different epochs in art history, including post-impressionism, British modernism, surrealism and contemporary art. The exhibition reflects upon the enduring inspiration artists have found in everyday objects, from an interest in colour and form, to a desire to capture their impermanence. While still life is traditionally associated with painting, the exhibition will feature works from a range of artistic mediums including sculpture, photography, ceramics, painting and works-on-paper.

Still Lives will display three of the oldest artworks in Wakefield’s art collection by renowned Dutch masters – Jacob Foppens van Es, Willem Ormea and Nicolaes van Verendael – that date back to the seventeenth century, highlighting the emergence of still life painting in the Netherlands. These will be presented in dialogue with contemporary artworks, proposing unlikely conversations.

Pivotal additions to Wakefield’s art collection during the initial decades of the twentieth century by artists such as Roger Fry, Ivon Hitchens, Frances Hodgkins, Anne Estelle Rice and Geer Van Velde will show how, through the deconstruction and distortion of familiar objects, these artists contributed to significant debates in modern art. Some works in the exhibition look beyond objects, exploring the idea of stillness within domestic settings. Artists such as Vanessa Bell, John Collier, Patrick Heron, Mabel Layng and Walter Sickert capture the silence and tranquillity inherent in interior spaces, while providing intimate glimpses into their environments.

Still Lives will also include several recent artworks that have been generously donated to Wakefield’s art collection in the last year. Noor, 3:30pm, Leyton, 2017, a large-scale oil painting by Caroline Walker and three photographs from Rene Matić’s a girl for the living room, 2023 series will go on public display for the first time since their acquisition. Contemporary sculptures by Steve Claydon, Anthea Hamilton, Eva Rothschild and Veronica Ryan present incongruous arrangements of familiar objects, creating scenes that hover between the strangely ordinary and the extraordinary.

Marie-Charlotte Carrier, Curator at The Hepworth Wakefield said: ‘This thematic exhibition is timed to coincide with Wakefield’s ‘Our Year’ celebration of culture across the district throughout 2024. It showcases the breadth of Wakefield’s art collection, which was established a century ago in 1923 and continues to be developed by The Hepworth Wakefield today as a rich resource for Wakefield residents and visitors alike. While artists have been drawn to still life across the centuries, the genre has often been disregarded or considered less important in the history of art. Still Lives is a wonderful opportunity to show historic works that haven’t been displayed at The Hepworth Wakefield for a long time alongside new acquisitions that have joined the collection recently through the generosity of donors.’

Book exhibition tickets here.