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Magnificent Obsessions @ Barbican

Sunday 29th March, 2020

The thrill of collecting is something we can all relate to. Throughout history artists have collected objects for professional and private reasons – as studio props, sources of inspiration, references for their work, personal mementos and even as investment.

Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector is the first major exhibition in the UK to present the fascinating personal collections of post-war and contemporary artists, including Arman, Peter Blake, Hanne Darboven, Edmund de Waal, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Dr Lakra, Sol LeWitt, Martin Parr, Jim Shaw, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Andy Warhol, Pae White and Martin Wong/Danh Vo. Their collections range from mass-produced memorabilia and popular collectibles to one-of-a-kind curiosities, rare artefacts, and natural history specimens.

While many of the participating artists are recognised internationally, their collections are often private and less well known, and the majority have never been seen in the UK. Individual collections include: African art and samurai armour owned by Arman; examples of British vernacular culture from Peter Blake; the eclectic contents of two rooms from Hanne Darboven’s family home in Hamburg; Edmund de Waal’s Japanese netsuke; Damien Hirst’s skulls, taxidermy and medical models; Indian paintings from Howard Hodgkin; Dr. Lakra’s record covers and scrapbooks, Sol LeWitt’s Japanese prints, modernist photographs and music scores; 20th century British postcards and Soviet space dog memorabilia from Martin Parr; Jim Shaw’s thrift store paintings; Hiroshi Sugimoto’s 18th century French and Japanese anatomical prints and books; Andy Warhol’s cookie jars; more than 1,000 scarves and other textiles by the American designer Vera Neumann from Pae White; and a collection of thousands of objects assembled by Martin Wong and subsequently acquired by Danh Vo.

The objects from each collection vary in numbers from less than 20 to more than 3,000 items. They are installed in separate spaces within the gallery reflecting each artist’s aesthetic style, display techniques and live-work environment.

Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector; Barbican Centre, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS; tickets £5-£12, under 12s free; from 12 February through 25 May 2015. I: http://www.barbican.org.uk/

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