Hayward Gallery, South Bank, London
Client: National Art Collections Funds
The major exhibition “Saved!: 100 Years of the National Art Collections Fund’’ was like an A-list party: many of the paintings and sculptures that were gathered together at The Hayward Gallery were so well known that they were instantly recognisable. But even in seeing an unfamiliar exhibit, the visitor knew its inclusion required it to be of the highest quality.
In most exhibitions, compelling works of art are shown next to ones of lesser importance. But walking into “Saved!” you are confronted with Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus, Canova’s Three Graces, de Chirico’s The Uncertainty of the Poet and Picasso’s Weeping Woman.
“You would think that such an exhibition of fourstar items could hardly go wrong. But, in less skilful hands, the whole enterprise could have fallen flat on its face. The success of the show has to do with Piers Gough’s and Michael Craig-Martin’s stylish installation. Together they have moulded an incoherent accumulation of disparate masterpieces into a display that hits you in the solar plexus. Paintings glow against the rich gold, silver and magenta wall colours and objects sparkle in dramatic floor-to-ceiling vitrines. Gough knows that whether it is a medieval cup carved in ivory or a 17th Century painting by Guercino, works of supreme quality need space to breathe and must complement but not overwhelm the objects shown near them. And, because the fund has been responsible for saving more than 500,000 individual works of art over the past century, the task of selecting the best of the bestmust have been daunting”.
Richard Dorment, The Daily Telegraph