Ages of Wonder builds on the moment in 1910 when the Royal Scottish Academy transferred significant works to the National Collection, securing exhibiting rights within what is now called the RSA building. The Academy was a force behind the establishment of a national collection and this exhibition will, for the first time since 1910, unite the RSA works transferred to NGS with those remaining in the Academy Collection and those collected by the Academy up to the present. Works from the masterpiece The Adoration of the Kings (1540) by Jacapo Bassano to a new sculpture of James Guthrie created especially for the exhibition by Kenny Hunter will be displayed. The exhibition will feature work from hundreds of artists collected by the Academy, including:
John Byrne | Jacopo Bassano | Kenny Hunter | Henry Raeburn | Alison Watt | William Dyce | Thomas Hamilton | Callum Innes | David Roberts | Kathryn Findlay | Doug Cocker | Anne Redpath | Derrick Guild | D O Hill | Alex Boyd | Dalziel and Scullion | Will Maclean | William Gillies | Eileen Lawrence | S J Peploe | Christine Borland | John Duncan | Alexander Runciman | Ade Adesina | Phyllis Bone | Richard Murphy | Joseph Noel Paton | Phoebe Anna Traquair | Calum Colvin | John Steell | Delia Baillie | Jacob More | Elizabeth Blackadder | William Henry Playfair | Sandy Moffat | Joyce W Cairns | William McTaggart | Glen Onwin| Tracy Mackenna | Barbara Rae | Eduardo Paolozzi | Andreas Vesalius | James Guthrie
The story of the collections will be told through work from all disciplines and in a variety of media from marble to film. Individual galleries will focus on the teaching role of the Academy and its life school, Architecture and the John Kinross Scholarship, the nineteenth century print and photography collections, artist printmaking and photography, traditional sculpture to the Keith Rand studio gift, portraiture and the future of collecting. Three galleries will explore changing conventions of exhibiting in the Victorian, Modern and Contemporary periods, with a recreated Victorian hang of works exhibited from dado to ceiling.
Throughout the rest of the exhibition there will be a mix of historic and contemporary works, including work by emerging artists. Contemporary commissions also bring the exhibition right up to now including those detailed above by Kenny Hunter and Calum Colvin. The architect Richard Murphy’s bespoke modular display cabinet will create a unique means of displaying library and collections together. All these new commissions will join the collections following the exhibition.
Revealing artistic practice is at the heart of how the RSA uses its collections and the exhibition will feature unique live events to engage audiences. A live Life School will take place in the upper galleries every week: a select group of students will draw directly from the figure under tutors George Donald, Jennifer McRae, Robert Rivers and John Byrne. In the lower galleries a series of live etching events will take place, with some of Scotland’s foremost artists including Frances Walker and Paul Furneaux, creating prints on ES Lumsden’s historic star wheel press (the first piece of machinery to enter the Academy’s collections). These two live galleries will go on tour around Scotland following the exhibition, beginning at Linlithgow Burgh Halls in January 2018.
Ages of Wonder: Scotland’s Art 1540 to Now is a partnership between the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) and National Galleries of Scotland (NGS); in collaboration with the Universities of St. Andrews, Edinburgh and Dundee. Kindly sponsored by Lyon & Turnbull.