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St Ives in an international context

— October 2014

Associated media

Juan Gris, Overlooking the Bay, 1921. Oil on canvas, 63.5x96.5 cm. Tate

Important works by artists Barbara Hepworth, Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron are seen alongside those of their international contemporaries and influences in a new exhibition developed by Tate St Ives in collaboration with mima, Middlesbrough, UK.

This exhibition, curated to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the opening of Tate St Ives gallery, is the first major rethinking of St Ives art in nearly three decades.

Now on at mima, ‘International Exchanges: Modern Art and St Ives 1915–65’ explores the wider national and international contexts that shaped art in St Ives. Described by the Financial Times as a ‘beautifully calibrated exhibition’, the retrospective recognizes that the artists associated with St Ives were connected with others around the world and that their experiences were part of a larger, international search for new forms of art following the Second World War.

The exhibition brings together significant loans from public and private collections in the UK and abroad, including works held by Tate and mima of artists from across Europe and North America – from Georges Braque, Kurt Schwitters, Wassily Kandinsky through to Sam Francis, Sandra Blow, Ben Nicholson, Alfred Wallis and Mark Rothko.

St Ives was an artistic centre of international importance. The group of artists who lived and worked in this fishing port and town on the far south west coast of Britain generally have their work viewed in terms of their location and use of landscape and nature. ‘International Exchanges’ sets out to view the art of St Ives from the other end of the telescope, to place it not in relation to where it was made but in relation to what was made, how it was made, and its position in a wider international modern art world. 

This touring exhibition will show how the art of post-war St Ives was developed from two strands of modern art: one the utopian ideals of Constructivism that spread from Moscow in the 1910s through Berlin and Paris, between the wars; and the other, a tradition of craft and the handmade that unites the carvings of Brancusi and the ceramics of Bernard Leach and others.

mima’s associate curator Grainne Sweeney said:

We are extremely excited to bring such a prestigious exhibition to mima.  It’s really fitting that a collection of work showcasing the arts and crafts should come to Middlesbrough, a town renowned for its craft and ceramic heritage.

The exhibition features major loans from public and private collections in the UK and abroad will be open to the public until 25 January 2015.

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Centre Square
Middlesbrough TS1 2AZ

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