Press Release: NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY STAGES FIRST EXHIBITION OF HOWARD HODGKIN'S PORTRAITS AND PAIRS SURREALIST PHOTOGRAPHER CLAUDE CAHUN WITH GILLIAN WEARING

Thursday 29 April 2016

Spring Season 2017 sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask (9 Mar-29 May 2017)
Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends
(23 Mar-18 Jun 2017)

The National Portrait Gallery is to stage the first exhibition to pair the works of contemporary artist Gillian Wearing with the innovative early-twentieth century photographer Claude Cahun as part of a spring season that also includes the first exhibition devoted to the portraits of the British painter Howard Hodgkin, it was announced today, Thursday 29 September 2016.

Both exhibitions Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask (9 March -29 May 2017) and Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends (23 March-18 June 2017) will include unseen and new works.

Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask will draw together over 100 works by French artist Claude Cahun (1894-1954) and British contemporary artist Gillian Wearing (b.1963). While they were born seventy years apart, they share similar themes around gender, identity, masquerade and performance.

Cahun, along with her contemporaries André Breton and Man Ray, was affiliated with the French Surrealist movement although her work was rarely exhibited during her lifetime. Together with her partner, the artist and stage designer Marcel Moore, the two women left Paris and were then imprisoned in Nazi-occupied Jersey during the Second World War as a result of their roles in the French Resistance. In her photographs she is depicted wearing masks and costumes and engaging with Surrealist ideas. She also changes her appearance by shaving her hair and wearing wigs, often challenging traditional notions of gender representation.

Gillian Wearing studied at Goldsmiths University, winning the Turner Prize in 1997. She has exhibited extensively in the United Kingdom and internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery and Serpentine Gallery, whilst overseas, recent retrospectives include IVAM Valencia and K20 Dusseldorf. Wearing's photographic self -portraits incorporate painstaking recreations of her as others in an intriguing and sometimes unsettling range of guises such as where she becomes her immediate family members using prosthetic masks.

Despite their different backgrounds, obvious and remarkable parallels can be drawn between the artists whose fascination with identity and gender is played out through performance and masquerade. Wearing has referenced Cahun overtly in the past: Me as Cahun holding a mask of my face is a reconstruction of Cahun's self-portrait Don't kiss me I'm in training of 1927, and forms the starting point of this exhibition, the title of which (Behind the mask, another mask) adapts a quotation from Claude Cahun's Surrealist writings.

Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends will be the first exhibition to focus on Hodgkin's portraits. This important aspect of Hodgkin's work has been largely overlooked because his work appears abstract. However, the exhibition shows the breadth and nature of Hodgkin's long-standing engagement with portraiture. With over 55 works from collections around the world and dating from 1949 to the present, the exhibition will show the development of Hodgkin's portraits, exploring his important contribution to our understanding of what constitutes a portrait and examining key themes within the artist's work: colour, memory, emotion, process and imagination.

Hodgkin's art can be seen as providing memorials for people, many of whom are friends, whose absence is countered by the corresponding physical presence of particular paintings. Descriptive elements visible in his earlier portraits from the 1950s are subsumed within paintings that have, over the course of more than fifty years, become more psychologically charged and apparently abstract, but no less connected with evoking specific individuals in particular situations. 'I am a representational painter, but not a painter of appearances', says Hodgkin, 'I paint representational pictures of emotional situations.'

Featuring key works from a range of international public and private collections, Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends traces the evolution of the artist's visual language and his engagement with a range of friends and others within the artist's circle. Peter Blake, Stephen Buckley, Patrick Caulfield, David Hockney, Philip King, R.B.Kitaj and Richard Smith are among the many leading artists portrayed.

Internationally recognised as one of Britain's leading artists Hodgkin was awarded the Turner Prize in 1985, a year after representing Great Britain at the Venice Biennale and solo exhibitions of his work have been held in Europe and the USA - including major retrospectives at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Tate Britain, London.Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: 'Our two spring exhibitions bring together a groundbreaking survey of the abstract portraits of Howard Hodgkin, one of Britain's greatest living painters, together with an inspired exhibition pairing the works of Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun - two pioneering artists who, although separated by several decades, address similarly compelling themes of gender, identity, masquerade, performance and self-portraiture. This promises to be a lively and thought-provoking programme.'

Sarah Howgate , Curator, Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask, says: 'An exhibition which investigates Claude Cahun's intriguing and complex explorations of identity alongside the equally challenging and provocative self-images of Gillian Wearing seems particularly timely In the year that marks fifty years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality.'

Paul Moorhouse, Curator, Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends, says: 'This is an important moment in the history of the National Portrait Gallery. For the first time, we are mounting an exhibition of portraits which includes paintings that appear entirely abstract. Hodgkin's portraits are very unorthodox because they represent memories and emotions rather than literal appearances. But these wonderfully sensuous and often intimate images are nevertheless entirely about people.'

Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask is curated by Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Her previous exhibitions at the Gallery include Lucian Freud Portraits and David Hockney Portraits and her displays at the Gallery include Lucian Freud Unseen (2016), Friendship Portraits: Chantal Joffe and Ishbel Myerscough (2015), Catherine Goodman: Portraits from Life (2014) and Alex Katz: Portraits (2010). Her publications include The Twenty-First Century Portrait (co-written with Sandy Nairne.)

Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends is curated by Paul Moorhouse, the National Portrait Gallery's Head of Collections Displays (Victorian to Contemporary) and Senior Curator of 20th Century Portraits. His previous exhibitions at the Gallery include Giacometti: Pure Presence (2015), The Great War in Portraits (2014), The Queen: Art and Image (2012) Gerhard Richter Portraits (2009), and Pop Art Portraits (2007). His displays at the Gallery include Andy Warhol: 10 Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century; Bridget Riley: from Life; Jim Dine Portraits: Patrick Heron: Studies for a Portrait of T. S. Eliot; Frank Auerbach: Four Portraits of Catherine Lampert; Anthony Caro: Portraits; Jack Smith - Abstract Portraits and Thomas Struth Family Portraits.

GILLIAN WEARING AND CLAUDE CAHUN: BEHIND THE MASK, ANOTHER MASK
9 March -29 May 2017, at the National Portrait Gallery, London www.npg.org.uk

Exhibition organised in collaboration with Gillian Wearing
Spring Season 2017 sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Supported by Cockayne - Grants for the Arts and The London Community Foundation

Tickets with donation: Full price £12 / Concessions £10
Tickets without donation Full price £10.50 / Concessions £8.50 (Free for Members and Patrons)
npg.org.uk/behindthemask or 020 7321 6600

Press View: Wednesday 8 March 201710.00-12.00 (with a tour at 10.30).

HOWARD HODGKIN: ABSENT FRIENDS
23 March -18 June 2017, at the National Portrait Gallery, London www.npg.org.uk
Spring Season 2017 sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Tickets with donation: Full price £12/ Concessions £10
Tickets without donation Full price £10.50 / Concessions £8.50 (Free for Members and Patrons)
npg.org.uk/hodgkin or 020 7321 6600 #HowardHodgkin

Press View: Wednesday 22 March 2016 10.00-12.00 (with a tour at 10.30).

PUBLICATIONS

Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask will be accompanied by a fully illustrated book by curator Sarah Howgate including a previously unpublished interview by Sarah Howgate with Gillian Wearing about her own work and that of Cahun, a chronology and an essay by Dawn Ades. It will be available to purchase from the National Portrait Gallery shops, priced £24.95 hardback, £19.95 Gallery exclusive price.

Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends will be accompanied by a fully illustrated book by curator Paul Moorhouse in which Hodgkin's art, life and achievements are charted in an illustrated essay and a chronology, featuring rare archive photographs. It will be available to purchase from the National Portrait Gallery shops, priced £29.95 hardback.

For further Press information, please contact: Neil Evans, Media Relations Manager, National Portrait Gallery: Tel. 020 7 312 2452 (not for publication) / Email nevans@npg.org.uk

To download press releases and images, please go to: www.npg.org.uk/press

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place WC2H 0HE, opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10.00 - 18.00 (Gallery closure commences at 17.50) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10.00 - 21.00 (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Nearest Underground: Leicester Square/Charing Cross General information: 0207 306 0055 Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 Website www.npg.org.uk


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