World Art Collections Exhibition
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

The Artist’s Studio

The Artist’s Studio, an exhibition which explores the ways artists have represented their workplaces in Britain since the mid-17th century, opens at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich, on Tuesday 9 February and runs until Sunday 23 May 2010. The exhibition features paintings by artists including Paul Cézanne, Mark Gertler and Gwen John, and photographs by Bruce Bernard, Gautier Deblonde and Perry Ogden. Also on display will be studio furniture including an easel from the studio of Joshua Reynolds and painting equipment belonging to J M W Turner. The Artist’s Studio is a touring exhibition developed by Compton Verney, Warwickshire.

Elizabeth Brown
Female Figure Lying on a Bed, 1931
University College London

“Since the late medieval period, the artist’s studio has been seen as a potent space where the artist is visibly engaged in the act of creation. The studio has possessed an aura of glamour, of apartness from the outside world, as a place of magic” – Giles Waterfield, independent curator.

Beginning in 1640, the exhibition gives an insight into the studio as a site for artistic creation and as a subject that has been long explored by artists. From places of display, theatricality and practical production to spaces of personal expression and retreat, the studio is shown not only as a creative space but as a rich source of information about the nature of the artist and their work.

Artists’ paintings of their studios often revealed aspiration as well as reality. Those concerned with their position in society could depict their studio to present themselves as learned or respectable, or give a glimpse of a more bohemian, alternative existence. Works by George Jamesone and Peter Tillemans show artists keen to position themselves in a grand studio setting, filled with works of art and evidence of cultural wealth. The uses of the studio are also explored through the exhibition: a studio could be not only be a workroom but a social space and, before the days of commercial galleries, a display space for potential clients. Other artists, such as Paul Cezanne, have depicted the romanticised figure of the artist suffering for his art in an impoverished garret.

Contemporary studios have changed with the demands of the artist and the exhibition considers the variety of spaces now used. While many artists still use traditional studios, others operate out of offices, on laptops, in converted factory buildings and on-site in art galleries or public spaces. The contemporary studio is a popular subject for photography, and the exhibition includes examples by photographers such as Bruce Bernard, Perry Ogden and Gautier Deblonde of the studios of artists including Anthony Gormley and Paula Rego.

Eric Ravilious
Edward Bawden Working in his Studio, 1929
© Estate of Eric Ravilious. All rights reserved, DACS 2009

“It is wonderful to be showing The Artist’s Studio, developed by Compton Verney, in the context of the Sainsbury Centre. This fascinating exhibition brings together a body of magnificent paintings, drawings, prints and photographs, and explores the practise of a wide range of artists, a number of whom are represented the Sainsbury Centre’s permanent collections” – Amanda Geitner, Head of Collections and Exhibitions at the Sainsbury Centre.

The exhibition has been organised by Compton Verney, and curated by Giles Waterfield, independent curator and writer, and Antonia Harrison, curator, Compton Verney. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated book available from the Sainsbury Centre Gallery Shop.

Dates, Times and Information

The Artist’s Studio runs from Tuesday 9 February to Sunday 23 May 2010. The exhibition will be open Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday), 10am to 5pm and until 8pm on Wednesdays.
Tel: 01603 593199

Combined Admission to The Artist’s Studio and The Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau £4, concessions £2
Family admission (up to 2 adults and 3 children) £8, concessions £6.

The Artist’s Studio runs concurrently with The Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau.