Cool and Collected at Aberdeen Art Gallery

Bronze on marble sculpture, Oval Form – Trezion, 1962-3, by Barbara Hepworth, painted bronze sculpture, Habitat, 2004, by Gavin Turk and hand blown glass, pink and blue neon artwork, For You, 2008, by Tracey Emin, acquired by Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums in 1965, 2004 and 2009 with NFA grants of £1,200, £20,000, and £13,500 respectively.

Challenging, exciting, dramatic, witty, fun or serious and above all superb quality – these are the hallmarks of contemporary fine art collecting at Aberdeen Art Gallery. Ever since its inception in 1885, the acquisition of contemporary art has been its lifeblood. This first came about through the generosity of one our earliest benefactors, Alexander Macdonald, who left a fund to buy works of art which were not more than 25 years old.

Subsequent curators built on this foundation and now – a regional art gallery perched on the edge of north east Scotland – we hold an outstanding collection of modern 20th century and contemporary art, with recent focus on sculpture, installation, conceptual art and new media. The National Fund for Acquisitions has long supported curatorial decisions to expand the collections in fresh and dynamic ways.

Painted bronze sculpture, Habitat, by Gavin Turk.  Artwork reproduced courtesy of the artist.

Painted bronze sculpture, Habitat, by Gavin Turk.
Artwork reproduced courtesy of the artist.

For some time now, the rather severe classical grandeur of Aberdeen Art Gallery’s Centre and Side Courts has provided the perfect foil to Post Modern works of art, for example, Gavin Turk’s bronze sleeping bag Habitat which appears both as a very realistic rumpled abode of a homeless person and an object of contemplation.  Another purchase, Tracey Emin’s pink and blue neon love heart sign For You possesses a vista from halfway up the street approaching the Art Gallery, drawing you in through the front door. The sign also reflects in the pool in front , created by Barbara Hepworth in the 1960s to hold her marvellous bronze piece Trezion.

Neon artwork, For You, by Tracey Emin and bronze sculpture, Oval Form - Trezion, by Barbara Hepworth. Artworks reproduced courtesy of Tracey Emin and Bowness, Hepworth Estate

Neon artwork, For You, by Tracey Emin and bronze sculpture, Oval Form – Trezion, by Barbara Hepworth. Artworks reproduced courtesy of Tracey Emin and Bowness, Hepworth Estate

The art of these two remarkable women works so well together proclaiming loudly to anyone walking in that this gallery is about great art – modern and contemporary.

Olga Ferguson
Curator (Fine Art)
Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
www.aagm.co.uk

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