Family Matters: The Family in British Art exhibition

15 October 2011 – 8 January 2012

Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery

Norwich Castle to stage ground-breaking exhibition charting 400 years of the Family in British Art.

This ambitious touring exhibition will show how the subject of family has been, and continues to be a challenging yet enduring subject for artists. Divided thematically, the exhibition will showcase the best of British art with works by David Hockney, Anthony van Dyck, William Hogarth and Tracey Emin. Contemporary and historic works will be juxtaposed to show how the traditional family portrait has been replaced with a more frank portrayal of the family. Formal portraits were frequently stages for political or personal purposes, whereas the more recent works offer a view that can only be described as ‘behind the scenes’, creating a tension between the public and private portrayal of the family.

This tension between inside and outside, appearance and reality, can be traced across a number of the works by artists including Thomas Gainsborough and Johann Zoffany, British contemporary artists Richard Billingham and Rachel Whiteread, as well as international artists Thomas Struth and Zineb Sedira. The 5 thematic sections – Inheritance; Childhood; Parenting; Couples & Kinship; Home – reveal a world of shifting certainties for the British family through a range of media, including film and photography, painting and sculpture.

The exhibition is programmed as part of the Great British Art Debate, a 4-year partnership with Museums Sheffield, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, and Tate Britain. Exhibition tour dates:

  • Millennium Galleries Sheffield, 2 February – 29 April 2012
  • Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, 21 May – 2 September 2012
  • Tate Britain, 1 October – 21 December 2012
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