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Leeds Art Gallery reopens with significant programme of exhibitions

PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 October 2017

Leeds Art Gallery reopens after major refurbishment

Leeds Art Gallery reopens after major refurbishment

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Gallery’s re-opening will boost Leeds’ European Capital of Culture bid.

One of the north’s leading art galleries re-opens to the public later this month after a major refurbishment. Leeds Art Gallery ‘will be seen in a new light’ from October 13th after essential repairs made to the original roof and the historic Victorian building.

The gallery in the city centre has close to half a million visitors a year. Even while it was closed, the gallery was able to make loans from its art collection to local and international galleries as well as take works out into schools and communities across the city.

The gallery is seen as a fundamental part of Leeds’ artistic heritage, particularly as the city bids to be named European Capital of Culture 2023.

Sarah Brown, principal keeper at Leeds Art Gallery, said: ‘We’re delighted to be opening Leeds Art Gallery after much-needed repair work to this beautiful building and are thrilled to present a significant programme bringing together a Joseph Beuys exhibition, new acquisitions and a stunning new commission, alongside a re-presentation of our world-class collection. We look forward to welcoming visitors to see the gallery in a new light.’

Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake, added:

‘Leeds Art Gallery is a wonderful and iconic element of our city’s fantastic cultural offer and we cannot wait to see the galleries open their doors to the public once again. Now that we are now moving full steam ahead with our 2023 European Capital of Culture bid, it is brilliant to see the return of Leeds Art Gallery which, internationally recognised and celebrated, will offer another timely reminder of why our bid is so varied and strong.’

Re-opening programme highlights include the ARTIST ROOMS Joseph Beuys exhibition, and new acquisitions by leading contemporary artists such as young American Martine Syms and renowned British sculptor Alison Wilding RA.

During the renovations, a forgotten barrel vaulted glazed roof was rediscovered on one of the first floor galleries. It had remained hidden above a false ceiling for more than 40 years. This new gallery will be celebrated by showing Arena (2000), a major sculpture by Alison Wilding, which is a gift to Leeds from the Contemporary Art Society.

The ARTIST ROOMS Joseph Beuys exhibition marks an important return to Leeds for Joseph Beuys (1921 -1986) who last exhibited at Leeds Art Gallery in 1983, and it will feature important sculptures by this influential German artist whose work and presence left a lasting legacy on Leeds.

The exhibition will run across three of the ground floor galleries and will include one of the last sculptures made by Beuys, Scala Napoletana (1985), along with works on paper from throughout his career. A programme of talks and events, aimed at engaging young audiences, will also take place,

The gallery has always supported the work of living artists. Originally focusing on British art of the time, the collection has in the late 20th and early 21st centuries become increasingly international with work in a range of media from 1888 to 2017. Another recent acquisition includes A Pilot For A Show About Nowhere (2015), a two-channel video by LA-based artist Martine Syms that has been gifted to Leeds Art Gallery through the Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society initiative (VNXXCAS) which aims to re-dress gender balances in museum collections. Leeds Art Gallery is the first museum to receive a work through the VNXXCAS scheme.

The new collection displays will feature works not seen for a generation – including the first opportunity to see an extensive display of watercolours by John Sell Cotman; the majestic sculpture Maternity (1910-11) by Sir Jacob Epstein and works on paper by Mexican artist Diego Rivera.

The gallery’s sculptures will also be presented in collection displays across galleries on both floors featuring artists including Alexander Calder, Tony Cragg and Simon Fujiwara.

Find out more at leeds.gov.uk/artgallery

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