|Hedgerow (New Forest) 2003 lightjet print mounted on aluminium 122x155cm © The Artist, courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London|
|The Cornfield 1826 John Constable, oil on canvas 143x122 © The National Gallery, London|
The National Gallery has mounted its first major exhibition in photography, Seduced by Art, using work from the mid 19 century onwards to illuminate some of its Old Masters. Hedgerow (New Forest) is the work of one of our most exciting contemporary artists, Richard Billingham. People may recall first encountering his stark, painful, sympathetic and unforgettable photographs in the 1990s when he pictured his parents and brother in their domestic environment.
|Death of Sardanapalus 1827 by Eugene Delacroix|
Seduced by Art has had mixed reviews but at its best it is magnificent. In the first room is this work by Delacroix. It comes to life with the great late Tom Lubbock's review in The Independent 02.07.2010. He described a scene of 'beautiful chaos', where there is 'rich fabric and gorgeous colours' among 'turbulence, cruelty, opulence, ruin, decadence, slaughter... a masscre coming to its end'. Beside it in the exhibition are three contemporary photographs: Jeff Wall's Barbaric Destruction, Tom Hunter's single figure at a bedside and Sarah Jones' sheet slipping from a plinth. You may find the juxtoposition overwhelmingly powerful.
© The Artist, courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London