Art Quarterly winter 2017 out now

The new issue includes features on Andreas Gursky and Elizabeth Friedlander; Rachel Whiteread and Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick in conversation, and much more.

Whether made this year or thousands of years ago, there’s a tale to be told behind every work of art and object that we see in our galleries and museums, even if, like the story of the 900 gold sovereigns discovered early in 2017, carefully wrapped and hidden inside an upright piano, the details (at the time of writing at least) still remain a mystery. Officially declared as treasure, those coins have now become part of the narrative of the UK Treasure Act. Twenty years on from its implementation, in this issue of Art Quarterly Maev Kennedy highlights how the act, along with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, has helped the stories behind thousands more objects to be told, many of them with Art Fund support.

The narrative behind the very large-scale work of German artist-photographer Andreas Gursky is that of the overwhelming impact on modern humanity and the natural world of the systems, structures and practices that we ourselves put in place, from high-density apartment blocks to the ant-like activities of factory workers. As the Hayward Gallery, about to celebrate its 50th year, prepares to reopen after a major refurbishment with the first major UK retrospective of Gursky’s work, Gabriel Coxhead profiles the artist and his images.

Storytelling is literally woven into the history of the art and craft of decorated textiles and textile design, a medium which is definitely having a moment, with at least seven shows on now, or opening in 2018, featuring textile artists and designers. Hettie Judah unravels some of these stories, through the work of Alice Kettle, May Morris, Hannah Ryggen, Wallace Sewell and others.

Known for her poetic and often poignant sculptures which reveal the negative spaces inside, underneath and around domestic objects and architecture, Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread shares both a professional and a personal history with Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick. Shortly after the opening of Whiteread’s current retrospective at Tate Britain they got together at Whiteread’s studio for this issue’s Face to Face interview. Ellen Mara de Wachter was there to join the conversation.

Another fascinating biography is that of Elizabeth Friedlander, one of the first women to design a Western typeface, but who, after coming to Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany, lived the remainder of her life relatively unknown. When artist Katharine Meynell unexpectedly discovered her own connection to Friedlander it sparked a new short film and an exhibition at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft. Anna McNay digs deeper to discover that there was a far more complex tale to be told.

And in this issue’s Meet the Collectors profile, I pay a visit to Tim Sayer. His story, and the subsequent combined story of him and his wife Annemarie Norton, highlights just how much can be achieved with limited financial resources and space but a big passion for art and artists, and an equally large generosity of spirit. Enjoy reading.

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