Painting the Century


26 October 2000 - 4 February 2001
Ground floor galleries
Admission £5 Concessions £4

Sponsored by Provident Financial plc

Eric Cantona, Elvis, Lenin, Queen Victoria, Margaret Thatcher and David Bowie are amongst the famous faces coming together for the Portrait Gallery's millennium exhibition, Painting the Century.

To mark the year 2000, the National Portrait Gallery has brought together 101 portrait masterpieces, loaned from collections around the world, many of which have never previously been exhibited in the UK. Painting the Century displays one portrait from every year of the 20th century, each chosen for its artistic, cultural or historical significance at the time.

A diverse range of sitters includes Royalty - Queen Victoria - and world leaders - Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler and Thatcher - alongside representatives from the worlds of music ( Elvis, Mick Jagger, David Bowie ), sport ( Eric Cantona ), science ( Pavlov , Graf Zeppelin ), literature ( Anna Akhmatova, Edith Sitwell, Thomas Keneally ), art, film, and many more.

The exhibition includes works by artists of the stature of Sargent, Munch, Picasso, Bacon, Freud, Warhol, and Hockney and embraces most of the artistic movements of the 20th century including Art Nouveau (Mucha's Josephine Crane Bradley as Slavia), Futurism (Dottori's Portrait of the Duce), Cubism (Leger's portrait of Charlie Chaplin), Surrealism (an unusual portrait by Dali of the industrialist Sir James Dunn, La Turbie) and Photo-Realism (Chuck Close's major photo-realist work Bob).

Divided into ten decades, Painting the Century provides a wide-ranging view of some of the cultural and historical milestones of an unsettled era. It will also reflect the extraordinary revolutions and the survival of traditional modes which have characterised the art of the last century.

The co-existence of diverse artistic styles is illustrated within the exhibition. For example, in the 1900s, the Edwardian grand manner as practised by Giovanni Boldini and John Singer Sargent in their major society portraits, alongside an early Picasso (Woman wearing a Chemise), a little known self-portrait by Edvard Munch, and a significant work by Alphonse Mucha, the founding father of Art Nouveau.
Works chosen for their historical significance include Albert Gleizes' Cubist Portrait of an Army Doctor (1914), Lenin in Red Square (1924) by Isaak Brodski and George Grosz's Cain or Hitler in Hell (1945). Andy Warhol's iconic portrait of (Double) Elvis (1963), taken from a film still for the western Flaming Star, conveys both the sexuality and element of danger which epitomised male glamour at the time. Richard Hamilton's Swingeing London 67 (1968) shows Mick Jagger and Robert Fraser before their drugs conviction and is definitive of its period. David Beckham, Eric Cantona and other members of the Manchester United football squad feature in Michael Browne's 1997 portrait The Art of the Game.

Although largely paintings, the exhibition also includes several multi-media works, notably Robert Silvers Photo-Mosaic of Bill Gates (1996), Wanganui Heads by John Beard (1998) and the boy/girl diptych by Marty St James, chosen to represent the year 2000.

As well as major works by outstanding artists of the century, there are a number of popular works by lesser-known artists such as Tamara de Lempicka's 1929 Autoportrait (in the green Bugatti) and CW Furse's Diana of the Uplands (1903/4).

The exhibition is organised and selected by Robin Gibson, Chief Curator at the National Portrait Gallery.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, published in October 2000, and includes an essay by Norbert Lynton together with a chronology and information on each painting. 256 pages with 101 colour and 25 black and white illustrations. Hardback £30, paperback £20.

Television Series
A series of four programmes called Icons of the Century will be broadcast on Channel 5 to coincide with the exhibition. The half-hour programmes will air on Sundays at 12 noon, from 22 October.

Lectures and Events
A series of evening lectures relating to the exhibition will be held on Thursday evenings in November in the Ondaatje Wing Theatre at 7pm. Tickets £3/£2 or £12/£8 for the whole series. For further information see our Lectures & Evening Events leaflet or contact the Information Desk 020 7306 0055 x 216.

The Sponsor - Provident Financial
Provident Financial is a personal financial services group, focused on credit, cash collection and insurance. They give considerable support to the arts including the sponsorship of the Leeds Art Fair. Provident are also involved in numerous art projects at a community level. Provident Financial is committed to helping communities use art as a force for positive change and is pleased to have developed a number of educational initiatives with the National Portrait Gallery to accompany the Painting the Century exhibition. These include "Face to Face", an outreach project for inner-city schools in London, Liverpool and Bradford and sponsorship of free entry to Painting the Century for other school groups throughout the country and for students attending practical art workshops based on the paintings displayed. These schemes will enable those who might not normally be able to visit the National Portrait Gallery to do so and to see this exhibition.

National Portrait Gallery opening times
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10:00 - 18:00
Late Opening Thursday, Friday: 10:00 - 21:00
Recorded information: 020 7312 2463

For further press information please contact:
Hazel Sutherland, National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2H 0 HE
Tel: 020 7312 2452 Fax:020 7306 0058 Email: [email protected]