Indepth Arts News: |
"Image and Idol: Medieval Sculpture"
2001-09-20 until 2002-03-03
UK United Kingdom
The display is a groundbreaking move for Tate, which has hitherto taken the Reformation
in England, in the mid-sixteenth century, as the starting point for its collection and
displays. Image and Idol acknowledges the richness and power of visual culture prior to
that date and provides a beautiful and revelatory complement to Tate Britain's newly
re-housed permanent collection.
The works in the exhibition have been borrowed predominantly from churches and
cathedrals across England and Wales. For the last eighteen months, the curators have
been researching and selecting a group of works for display, making field trips across the
country to uncover the hidden treasures of our medieval past. Each has brought their own
distinct perspectives to these extraordinary works, which once inspired passionate
devotion or intense disapproval, even physical violence. In a departure from the
conventions of museum display, Deacon has designed the installation of these works.
The unique presentation will enhance the stylistic and thematic diversity of the selection.
A centrepiece will be the extraordinary Tree of Jesse, the largest and most impressive
example of wooden sculpture surviving from the fifteenth century.
This carved oak figure has been acclaimed as one of the finest medieval sculptures in the
world but before now has never been seen outside its home, St Mary's Priory Church,
Image and Idol will introduce a number of key historical themes in British art from the
Romanesque style to the Reformation; in particular, it highlights the international context
for British art and the cataclysmic effects of the Reformation, in which much religious
sculpture was destroyed. The inclusion of Pietro Torrigiano's little known Effigy of Dr
Yonge, from the Chancery Lane Library (the former Public Records Office) at King's
College London, acknowledges the impact of the Italian renaissance and the emergence
of ambitious new categories of secular imagery.
An illustrated catalogue will be available with essays by Richard Deacon and Phillip
Lindley (64pp, £12.99).