Ikon presents the first exhibition in the UK dedicated to the work of Renaissance artist Carlo Crivelli.
Shadows on the Sky highlights his experimental use of perspective, trompe l’oeil (optical illusion) and sculptural relief to create illusions of illusionism. Such cleverness was conveyed with consummate craftsmanship and foiled by an extraordinary elegance. Crivelli’s paintings both suggest and undermine his own visual trickery to explore the coexistence of material and spiritual realities.
Organised in partnership with The National Gallery, the exhibition also includes loans from other leading institutions such as the National Trust, the Vatican Pinacoteca, the Victoria & Albert Museum, The Wallace Collection, and the Gemäldegalerie. Through these major loans – some for the first time – we are invited to reconsider Crivelli’s sophisticated understanding of the relationship between art and what it represents. With a sense of irony, found five hundred years later in Magritte’s Ceci n’est pas une pipe (1929), he subtly denies the possibility of one being confused with the other.
Shadows on the Sky was made possible by the inaugural Ampersand Foundation Award, which granted Ikon £150,000 in 2019 to realise a “curatorial dream”. Ikon Director Jonathan Watkins has long championed Crivelli, having published an influential article on him in Art International in 1988. The show is co-curated by Amanda Hilliam, who has recently completed a doctoral thesis on Crivelli and is soon to have a monograph published by Reaktion Books.
To coincide with the exhibition, Ikon will also show two works by pioneering photorealist artist Audrey Flack (b.1931, USA), whose 1981 Arts Magazine article on Crivelli recognised his originality and impact on contemporary art. Ikon will additionally run a programme that invites Midlands-based contemporary artists to respond to the exhibition. There is also a series of public events, including a talk at The National Gallery on 22 February 2022 and a major conference in Birmingham on 25 February 2022.
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