Tacita Dean

Three galleries, three genres, one artist. Get ready to explore the world of Tacita Dean in London this spring


This spring, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery and the Royal Academy will united to host a unique collaboration which will see the three galleries showcase different aspects of the work of a single British artist – the remarkable Tacita Dean. The NPG will focus on Dean’s portraiture, the National Gallery will showcase the artist’s still life and the Royal Academy will explore the artist’s landscape work.

The unique collaboration came about when the NPG became aware that both they and the RA had approached Dean about a show. NPG director Nicholas Cullinan says “We thought a more interesting model, rather than try to compete and say ‘you’ve got to choose one’, was to collaborate.”

Introducing Tacita Dean

Tacita Dean is a Turner prize nominated multi-media artist, who is best known for her use of film. Dean uses the medium to capture snapshots and portraits of life rather than to portray fiction or to aid storytelling. Famous for her use of static camera positions, the artist has an incredible ability to capture subtle shifts in light and movement.

Born in Canterbury, Kent, the artist attended Kent College before graduating from Falmouth College. Then from 1990 to 1992, Dean took a master’s degree at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art.
In 1997 Dean moved to London and by 2001 she was already headlining a solo show at Tate Britain. The show was entitled Tacita Dean: Recent films and Other Works at Tate Britain.

In recent years Dean has perhaps become best known for her large scale work for major institutions such as the now defuncted Millennium Dome, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and for the City of Cork.

In 2011 she was commissioned to produce a large scale piece for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. Her effort, entitled FILM, a silent movie shot on 35 mm film, was projected onto a 12-metre screen. The work was Dean’s attempt to pay homage to the medium of celluloid while highlighting the existential challenges that it faced.

The Royal Academy

The RA show will concentrate on Dean’s landscape work and cover weather, travel and botany. The highlight of the exhibition promises to be the debut of the artist’s latest 35 mm film, Antigone which features actor Stephen Dillance and the poet Anne Carson.

The National Portrait Gallery

The NPG show will showcase a range of films with subjects including Claes Oldenburg, David Hockney and Julie Mehretu. The gallery will also present the UK debut of the artist’s six-screen portrait installation of Merce Cunningham, the dancer and choreographer.

The National Gallery

The National Gallery meanwhile will concentrate on historical paintings and still life works by Dean or her contemporaries including Roni Horn, Wolfgang Tillmans and Thomas Demand.

The lady herself is clearly looking forward to the project. It has been a huge pleasure developing the structure of these exhibitions with everyone involved and daring to gently nudge pre-existing orthodoxies about what constitutes a landscape, portrait and still life.” She said.

Meanwhile, Tim Marlow tried to summ up the artist’s importance, saying “she is one of the most important artists of her generation anywhere in the world”.

Tacita Dean: Portrait will be at the NPG between the 15th March and the 28th May; Still Life will be at the National Gallery between the15th March and the 28th May; the RA dates have not been confirmed.

More information about Tacita Dean can be found here.

If you’d like information on other great art exhibitions in London, please click here.


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