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Exploring the relationship of contemporary art with religion
A selection of prominent twentieth-century and contemporary art pieces from private European collections comprise a new exhibition called Going Public: International Art Collectors in Sheffield. The exhibition takes place across five sites in Sheffield from 16 September to 12 December, 2015 and includes a free summit on 12 October (register attendance by 9 October), which will discuss the relevancy of private philanthropy for the twenty-first century.
Image courtesy of Sheffield Cathedral
The impetus behind the exhibition is an examination of the role of private and corporate philanthropy for the arts in light of diminished public funding. The exhibition draws on the private collections of Dominique and Sylvain Levy (Paris), Nicolas Cattelain (London), Egidio Marzona (Berlin), and Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin). Each collection is displayed at a different site across Sheffield with a different focus.
The Graves Gallery is hosting a selection of rare pieces by Marcel Duchamp from the collection of Marzona.
A variety of selections from the Cattelain Collection are on display at The Millennium Gallery from artists such as Sol LeWitt, Do Ho Suh, Dan Flavin, and Anthony McCall.
The main imperative of the city-wide exhibition is to highlight decreased public funding for the arts and to provoke discussion about the role of private collections for the future. The works on display at Sheffield Cathedral shine a light on these issues, but also present questions about religious violence and the engagement of religious institutions with contemporary culture.
The cathedral is hosting 10 contemporary installation pieces from the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection, including works by Sarah Lucas, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Maurizio Cattelan, and Turner Prize winners Douglas Gordon and Susan Philipsz. The cathedral provides an unusual setting for these works. Along with the jarring juxtaposition of medieval architecture with contemporary art, several of the pieces present disturbing, brutal, or controversial imagery, which really makes an impact in the context of a sacred space of stained glass and medieval tombs.
Of particular note is the Chapman brothers' Cyber Iconic Man (1996) which is displayed in the cathedral's Chapel of the Holy Spirit. The sculpture is of a naked, brutalized man hanging upside down with blood pouring out of his wounds into a bucket on the floor below. As stated by the Dean of the Cathedral, Peter Bradley, this work was intentionally selected to highlight accepted imagery already present in sacred spaces and to provoke thought in the onlooker. He states, 'There are many images of violence in the cathedral already, crucifixes and so forth, which we are desensitised to. We are hoping this piece will lead to a debate around violence and religion and martyrdom. This is a new beginning for contemporary art in Sheffield' (from Sheffield Cathedral).