Friday, 15 March 2013

Nav's Gallery Report: The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Yesterday I visited the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. The institute was founded by Lady Barber in 1932 and is currently celebrating its 80th birthday since it was opened by Queen Mary in 1939. 

The Barber is currently holding over 150 painting, approximately 50 sculptures, 1000 drawings and prints, and a large collection of Byzantine coins in Europe which makes it one of the finest art collections in the UK.
The gallery is a grade ll listed art-deco building designed by Robert Atkinson that is situated on the campus of University of Birmingham. The building contains a central concert hall which is surrounded by lecture halls and a library on the ground floor and the gallery on the first floor.

The collection in the Barber is full of famous works by artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso and Rembrandt, displayed in spacious galleries on the first floor. The Renaissance is represented by masterpieces by Giovanni Bellini, Veronese and Simone Martini, Rubens, Van Dyck, Poussin and Murillo. British artists represented are Aubrey Beardsley, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Rossetti and Turner.

Clause Oscar Monet (1840 - 1926),
The Church at Varengeville, 1882,
oil on canvas

As well as these well known and established artists there was an exhibition from the New Arts West Midlands which is a ‘brand new collaborative venture in partnership with Birmingham museum and art gallery and grand union, Birmingham.’ This exhibition profiles the ‘best critically-engaged work by recent graduates from the West Midlands university art schools such as Birmingham City University where I'm currently studying.
The work I was particularly interested in was Clair Waltons ‘Dying West’, (image below). 

 'Dying West' consists of a bike wrapped in wool, its utility removed and replaced by a new functionality. The bike was placed randomly among famous renaissance painting which begs the questions like who owns the bike, what's the history behind it, what colour is it, is there actually a bike inside it?.

For more information about The Barber Institute of Fine Arts click here.

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