Our week in London

Written by Fleur den Uijl and Janneke Luns

For the Master specialization Art, Market and Connoisseurship and Contemporary Art History one of the required subjects was a study trip to London. Here we had to engage in depth with exemplary works of western art history from early modern times to today, in original and in the context of exhibitions, museum or gallery presentations. After several preparatory meetings in Amsterdam, we were going to London for a one week-long study trip.

On Sunday 24 March 2019 our trip to London began. We were asked to study the subject of research in situ, before we started our week full of presentations. That evening we all gathered together in our hotel for the week, which was situated in the nice district of Bloomsbury. The location of the hotel was perfect, because it was on walking distance of a lot of museums like for example the British Museum.

The next day our first stop was the National Gallery, where five students were asked to give a half hour presentation on several important artworks in history. Jacquelien kicked off with her presentation on Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian. Some other people even joined listening to some of the presentations that were held. Paintings like The Ambassadors by Holbein, Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio, Bathers by Cézanne and Portrait of Hermine Gallia by Klimt were discussed. After the National Gallery we went to the Hayward Gallery to see two exhibitions by Kader Attia and Diane Arbus. Eventually we called it a day and gathered together on the rooftop of the Hayward Gallery where we ordered a nice bottle of wine.  

On Tuesday we made our stop at the Tate Modern, where we were about to hear about some of the most prolific artworks of the 20th century, like: Agosta, the Pigeon-Chested Man, and Rasha, the Black Dove by Christian Schad, Weeping Woman by Picasso, a Rothko installation of artworks, Filette by Louise Bourgeois and Table Piece CCLXVI by Sir Anthony Caro. It was interesting to see the different approaches to art history in comparison with the subjects of the day before. Contemporary art museum the Whitechapel Gallery was our next destination. It was situated next to the district of Shoreditch, where some of us went to see the beautiful street art afterwards.  

Because we had not seen enough of the National Gallery, we went back on Wednesday. We of course needed to include The Hay Wain by John Constable and Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway by William Turner. Both artists that are seen as exemplary for British landscape painting. After this, we walked to the Tate Britain and continued our daily program with a final presentation of Francis Bacon’s renowned Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. Unfortunately, No Woman No Cry by Chris Ofili appeared to be not on view. Luckily the sun was still shining so we enjoyed a day of walking through London!

The next day we had a full program starting in the British Museum and continuing the presentations in the Tate Modern. There we discussed the works by Doris Salcedo, Untitled, Bridget Riley’s Nataraja, Cildo Meireles’s Babel tower, Mogamma, A Painting in Four Parts: Part 3 by Julie Mehretu and finally Then & Now by Lorna Simpson, which was the last presentation. Some students had bought tickets for Anne Imhof’s performance that evening, other students went for a drink somewhere else, to proudly celebrate the end of the presentations!

On Friday, the final day, we went to the Royal Academy to visit several exhibitions. Nicely enough, Martina had organized a tour held by a specialist at the Old Master Drawings Department at Christie’s. He took us to several departments within the company to give us a nice sense of how an auction house operates. Because we had seen Christie’s, we could not miss Sotheby’s, which was situated just around the corner. Here we saw an exhibition on Modern and Contemporary African Art. Afterwards we went for a small gallery tour through the district of Mayfair where we among others visited the David Zwirner gallery. That evening we went for dinner and drinks altogether and toasted on a great week full of art!

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