Damien Hirst's Wretched War
Damien Hirst's Wretched War

Contemporary and modern art exhibition to open

The latest and greatest modern and contemporary art additions to Scotland’s national collection will be celebrated in a free exhibition opening at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) next month.

Opening on 27 November and with more than 100 works on display, New Arrivals: from Salvador Dalí to Jenny Saville will present a stunning showcase taking up the entire ground floor of the Gallery.

A wide range of styles and movements spanning 110 years will be represented, from an early-twentieth-century  Cubist collage by Pablo Picasso to recent time-based media works by leading contemporary artists.

Works by famous names such as René Magritte will be shown alongside those by brilliant but less-celebrated figures such as Marie-Louise von Motesiczky and Benjamin Creme. New Arrivals will also change throughout its run, revealing several pieces which for now must remain under wraps.

Highlights of the exhibition will include striking and vibrant woodcuts by Alberta Whittle, who will represent Scotland at the 59th International Venice Biennale; a large-scale diptych by France-Lise McGurn, the Glasgow-based artist renowned for works paintings comprised of intuitive brushstrokes, and a painting by the acclaimed Scottish painter and printmaker Barbara Rae CBE RA RSA RE.

Many artworks will be on public display for the very first time since they arrived at the Galleries.

Damien Hirst’s Wretched War

They include:

The first work by the highly sought-after artist Marc Chagall to enter Scotland’s national collection. L’Écuyère [The Horse Rider] (1949 – 1953) is a stunning example of Chagall’s fixation with depicting female circus horse-riders.

Bows (about 1910), a painting by Frances Macdonald MacNair, a member of the celebrated ‘Glasgow Four’, which explores the theme of female sexuality in her distinctive Spook School style.

Wangechi Mutu’s Histology of Different Classes of Uterine Tumors (2004 – 2005), a series of twelve politically resonant collages which challenge the cultural objectification of women of colour. These were purchased with help from the Heinz Fund and Art Fund.

Intervals 2 (2019), a generous gift from the influential British painter Bridget Riley, which marked a new direction in her 70-year career.

Seven unique prints by Ciara Phillips, an artist concerned with how printmaking can prompt discussions around current social and political concerns, purchased via the Iain Paul Fund.

The first artwork by Jenny Saville to enter a UK public collection; Nude (Study for ‘Branded’) (1992) presents a female figure in an uncompromising way, confronting notions about idealised beauty from a feminist perspective. It was acquired through the Henry and Sula Walton Fund, an independent charity established to assist NGS in purchasing major works of modern art.

Two exciting film and sound installations gifted by Outset Contemporary Art Fund: The Slave’s Lament (2015) by Graham Fagen, an evocative interpretation of the 200-year-old poem by Robert Burns; and Hanna Tuulikki’s SING-SIGN: a close duet (2015), which responds to the history and geography of the narrow closes that run from Edinburgh’s most famous street, the Royal Mile.

France-Lise McGurn’s Bachelorette

New Arrivals will also feature works by Natalia Goncharova, Glen Onwin, Frances Walker, John Bellany, Marie Harnett and Stephen Campbell.

The exhibition is the fruit of five years’ worth of acquisitions work, all made possible by the generosity of National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) supporters through gifts, bequests and grants. NGS is immensely indebted to the Arts Council’s Acceptance-in-Lieu and Cultural Gifts schemes, which enabled the acquisition of Damien Hirst’s life-size bronze sculpture Wretched War (2004); the first portrait Oskar Kokoschka painted in Britain after arriving as a refugee in 1939, and a remarkable set of twenty-one monotypes by the great Russian Constructivist artist Naum Gabo. More recently, NGS acquired an important line work by Fred Sandback; Untitled (1971) is the first sculpture by the artist to enter a UK public collection.

Simon Groom, Director of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Galleries of Scotland, said: ‘Acquisitions breathe new life into our collections. They allow us to reflect the latest developments in Scotland and beyond, reinforcing the strength of our existing collections and research.

‘Thanks to gifts, bequests and support from charitable funds and private donors, the national collection continues to grow in exciting new directions. We are very pleased to be able to share these works with our visitors and encourage everyone to come and be inspired in the discovery of our new arrivals.’

Visitors are encouraged to book a free time slot for the visit at nationalgalleries.org.