20 Sep 2019

  • Southampton City Art Gallery presents Gallery 80: From Generous Beginnings to Lasting Legacies at London Art Fair 2020, an exhibition highlighting the Gallery’s outstanding collection of modern British and contemporary art, which earned ‘Designated’ status from Arts Council England in 1998.
  • The exhibition will reveal the depth and variety of Southampton’s evolving collection of modern and contemporary painting and sculpture with around 25 important works by Walter Sickert, L.S. Lowry, Stanley Spencer, Helen Chadwick, Maggi Hambling and Christopher Le Brun, among others.
  • Southampton City Art Gallery is the official Museum Partner of London Art Fair, which brings exceptional modern and contemporary art to the UK capital from 22-26 January 2020 (Preview 21 January)

For the 2020 edition, London Art Fair has partnered with Southampton City Art Gallery to present a selection of around 25 paintings and sculptures that demonstrate the strength of the City’s modern British and contemporary holdings.

Founded in 1911 with a bequest from Southampton Councillor Robert Chipperfield, and with a further bequest from Councillor Frederick William Smith in 1925, the collection today holds over 5,000 works covering six centuries of European art history and is considered one of the finest collections in the south of England.

The collection continues to grow through acquisitions, gifts and bequests and, although the Gallery has important holdings of pre-1900s painting, it is principally known for housing some of the finest British modern and contemporary works in the UK, including over 30 Turner prize winners and nominees.

Following its 80th anniversary in 2019, Southampton City Art Gallery will exhibit at London Art Fair in January 2020 to showcase a selection of works that are significant to the history of the Gallery; including pieces by Walter Sickert, L.S. Lowry, Stanley Spencer, Ben Nicholson, Helen Chadwick, Maggi Hambling, Christopher Le Brun and Bob and Roberta Smith.

The selection will highlight the remarkable expansion of the collection over the last 80 years, which has helped to transform Southampton into a leading cultural destination boasting one of the finest collections in the south of England.

Highlights will include The Floating Bridge by L.S. Lowry who visited Southampton in 1954, taking the chain ferry or ‘floating bridge’ across the River Itchen to the city centre. Lowry subsequently created two paintings of the floating bridge from memory, with this one being purchased by the Gallery in 1956. It remains one of the most popular paintings in the collection amongst Southampton residents.

Another highlight will be Loading Timber at Southampton Docks , 1918 by C.R.W. Nevinson. During the First World War Nevinson experienced the horrors of modern warfare which inspired some of his most powerful work. He was later appointed an Official War Artist and passed through Southampton on his way to France. This dynamic painting shows the influence of Futurism and Cubism on Nevinson’s art with its emphasis on geometric shapes and patterns, machinery and movement. It was acquired by the Gallery in 1962 and is a key part of Southampton’s reputed early 20th century post-impressionist holdings which reveal the birth of modern art in Britain.

Clare Mitchell, Curator of Art at Southampton City Art Gallery , said: “I am thrilled that Southampton City Art Gallery is the Museum Partner for the 2020 edition of London Art Fair. We are proud of the collection and find presenting it in different ways both enlightening and rewarding. To have the opportunity to showcase a taste of the collection at London Art Fair will allow us to shout even louder about its importance, inspiring people to visit and discover its true merits in the narrative of art history.”

Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Homes and Culture , said: “We are delighted to be the official Museum Partner for the 2020 London Art Fair. Now in its 80th year, Southampton City Art Gallery’s collection grows from strength to strength and continues to put our City on the map. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to show off some of the major highlights from our collection on a significant international stage. This is another great step towards our bid to become ‘City of Culture’ in 2025, firmly putting Southampton at the forefront of the UK’s cultural offer.”

British Artist Christopher Le Brun, said: “Southampton City Art Gallery has an exceptional collection that is particularly well balanced between historic and contemporary work. What was impressive about their policy was to refresh the collection continually with new paintings, frequently ambitious large-scale paintings. An outstanding city collection housed in a purpose-built gallery, Southampton City Art Gallery is, to me, an exemplar of civic collecting.”

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