The National Galleries of Scotland have commissioned and acquired a major new artwork by the internationally renowned artist Amie Siegel.
Bloodlines (2022) is the first of the American artist’s works to enter Scotland’s national collection and will debut at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) from March 12.
Bloodlines is an expansive moving image artwork in which Siegel eloquently and poetically considers complex networks of art, pedigree and cultural identification.
Filmed in numerous private estates across the UK, including on the Isle of Bute, as well as at public institutions, Bloodlines offers an intimate look into the world of cultural property, exploring the ownership of heritage and distinctions between private and public realms. One of Siegel’s most ambitious works to date, Bloodlines exemplifies the artist’s understated mastery of form, revealing systems of class and inherited wealth, while subtly suggesting colonialism’s role in establishing and perpetuating these structures.
Siegel has long been interested in the lives of artworks and objects—how they gain cultural meaning and value. Bloodlines follows the loan and movement of paintings by the English artist George Stubbs (1724-1806) from aristocratic homes and private estates to their exhibition in a public art gallery, and subsequent return to their home locations. The Stubbs paintings are first depicted within the lavish décor and stillness of the stately home interiors, then take on a new appearance and presence when installed by museum workers and seen on gallery walls by a viewing public.
Siegel uses juxtaposition, contrast, and repetition to create a rich constellation of images and ideas, allowing the resulting narrative to unfold associatively in the viewer’s consciousness. Motifs such as flowers, fireplaces, dogs, horses, and other creatures and patterns of action build and echo throughout the work, accruing meaning. The viewer thus becomes aware of distinctions between interior and exterior worlds, as well as the absence and presence of people; stillness and movement; animate beings and inanimate objects; images of past and present; reality and artifice. A sense of empathy is conveyed, as viewers encounter a cast of human and animal protagonists.
Simon Groom, director of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Galleries of Scotland, said: ‘This is an incredibly important acquisition of a new work by Amie Siegel, an artist of international renown who has long been on our wish list. Filmed entirely in the UK, this beautiful and compelling work is exemplary of Siegel’s uncanny ability to consider and observe the lives of objects and their settings to profound and moving ends.
‘While taking the particular contexts in which paintings by Stubbs have been collected, cared for and exhibited as her starting point, the themes Siegel explores in Bloodlines are universal. The work offers an exquisite meditation on time and place, and how social structures are defined and understood, ideas which resonate in our contemporary world. We are thrilled to be premiering the work, and proud to give Bloodlines a permanent home in Scotland’s national collection.’
The work has been acquired by National Galleries of Scotland thanks to the generosity of Art Fund and the Contemporary Art Society, whose contributions supported the production of the work, alongside additional production support from Princess Grace Foundation, New York and PALOMAR. Bloodlines will be on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) from March 12 as part of the exhibition New Arrivals: from Salvador Dalí to Jenny Saville.
It will also be on display at Thomas Dane Gallery, London, from April 26.
Find out more about Amie Siegel on the Thomas Dane Gallery website.