Tuesday 29 June 2010

Intuition / Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection at Whitwort

26 June 2010 - Summer 2011

Chris Hipkiss, An Other Han, 1998
Copyright: Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection, Whitworth Art Gallery

Get “plugged into the mains electricity of the imagination”* with Henry Darger, Madge Gill, Chris Hipkiss, Scottie Wilson, and others whose art has developed outside of formal training. This is a first opportunity to see highlights from this extraordinary collection on display since its arrival at the Whitworth earlier this year.

The works exhibited show the range of unique and often highly-crafted artworks in the collection. A panorama by Henry Darger features his reoccurring themes of childhood and war. Here, depicted in Darger’s trademark brilliant block colour, innocent schoolgirls the Vivian sisters are captured and then escape the grasp of the evil Glandelinians. Madge Gill’s work, whether on fabric, embroidered, or drawn on card, is by contrast densely worked, packed with abstract, architectural lines, crosses and zigzags. Judith Scott’s suspended sculptures of wrapped yarn and multicoloured wools conceal within them a bamboo armature or found object. Chris Hipkiss’ monumental work of 1993, London, is a gothic, visceral city of interconnected towers and tubes all portrayed in detailed monochrome.

Several of the artists in the collection were unrecognised in their own lifetime. When she died in 1961 Gill had hundreds of drawings piled in her wardrobe and underneath her bed, never having wanted to sell her works. For Darger too, his work was a private affair, his works being discovered only very shortly before his death in 1973. However, seclusion and obscurity is by no means the case for all the self-taught artists represented here: before her death in 2005 Scott was the subject of a monograph by art historian John MacGregor and enjoyed 18 years making work in the Creative Growth Center, California. Chris Hipkiss continues to exhibit throughout the world and has work in private and public collections. Victor Musgrave and Monika Kinley chose to collect artwork that they felt was genuinely original, intuitive and made by artists outside the mainstream system of art education and galleries. The result is a collection of almost 800 drawings, paintings and sculptures that has become the first of its kind to join the permanent collection of a public museum in the UK. Trustees of the Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection generously presented the entire collection to the Whitworth Art Gallery in March

Sava Sekulić, Napoleon and his Daughters, 1975
Copyright: Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection, Whitworth Art Gallery

This gift is due the generosity of Monika Kinley and was facilitated with the support of the Contemporary Art Society.

*Sir Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate