Cornelia Parker Chooses Warhol Portrait For Exhibition

Government Art Collection


Masterworks from the Government Art Collection Opens at Whitechapel

The second exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery of the Government Art Collection goes on display today. This time the gallery has invited leading British artist Cornelia Parker to select works of art reflecting her personal take on the Collection. When making her selection, Parker arranged images of the works on her computer by hue. This led her to think about the political associations that colours have and the possibility of curating a political spectrum using art from the ‘somewhat charged diplomatic arena’ of the Government Art Collection.

Parker has made connections between colour and politics before. Not wishing to present a selection that was too prescriptive, she chose to present a spectrum of colour based on all the colours of the rainbow, hence the mnemonic title Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain, [red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet]. From the red draperies in Daniel Mytens’ portrait of ‘Lady Anne Montagu’ 1626, to the yellow of Martin Creed’s neon sculpture ‘Work No. 253: THINGS 2000’  and from David Batchelor’s vivid Shelf-like ‘No. 5 (Green)’ 1999  to the royal blue background in Andy Warhol’s portrait of ‘Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom 1985’  over 70 works will be hung from floor to ceiling according to colour.

Parker’s own work often explores notions of collecting: how do we collect, order, sort and categorise things? In this salon style hang there will be a circular flow giving rise to some curious juxtapositions: Old Masters meet Young British Artists. There’s a rhythm and a definite sense of place – both geographically and historically – which as Parker points out is enriched by the knowledge that some of ‘these works of art have quietly eavesdropped on many an important conversation over the years’.

This is the second in a series of five displays at the Whitechapel Gallery running from June 2011 to September 2012. The exhibition will tour to Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and Ulster Museum, Belfast in 2012–13.


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