Art Quarterly autumn 2017 out now

  • 1 September 2017
  • By Helen Sumpter
  • Editor, Art Quarterly

The new issue includes features on the UK's contemporary art awards, the collector Robert Chipperfield, artist Tove Jansson, opera, and the materiality of faith.

Hurvin Anderson, Is it OK to be Black?, 2016 © Hurvin Anderson

Hurvin Anderson, Is it OK to be Black?, 2016

In the new issue of Art Quarterly, Martin Coomer charts the recent shift in the UK’s contemporary art awards, Anna McNay uncovers the story of collector Robert Chipperfield, Helen Sumpter reveals that there’s more to celebrated artist Tove Jansson than her much-loved Moomin characters, Erica Jeal and Sally O’Reilly explore the engagement between visual artists and opera, and Jill Cook and Jás Elsner explore the materiality of faith through objects and images.

‘Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way.’ Not our words – although patience, commitment and, occasionally, a small amount of failure can play a part in the Art Quarterly production process – but sage advice given in a speech in 2006 by former US President Barack Obama.

It’s a sentiment that could be said to have been lived out in the life and work of Finnish-Swedish artist and writer Tove Jansson, the creator of the much-loved Moomin stories. Jansson’s legacy as an artist, however, extends far beyond Moominvalley, as I found out when I travelled to Finland to follow in her footsteps, ahead of an extensive exhibition of her work opening in October at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Art Quarterly readers can make the journey too in the features pages of this issue.

Artistic legacy is also central to the story of Robert Chipperfield. In the first of a new series of profiles titled ‘Meet the Collectors’, we tell the intriguing tale of how a forward-thinking Victorian philanthropist, who didn’t have the greatest eye for art or, indeed, a life free from failure, still managed to create a city art gallery with an outstanding collection of work.

There are great tales to be told too in our feature exploring the relationships, over the centuries, between artists and opera. As the V&A launches its new gallery space with an exhibition on the art form, we explore the visual drama that artists have brought to the medium, from set designs such as Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s starry vistas for an 1816 production of Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ to Tom Phillips’ ‘Irma’, a work entirely conceived by the contemporary artist based on his ‘treated’ novel ‘A Humument’, and which is being performed at the South London Gallery in September. In addition, writer Sally O’Reilly gives us the insider’s view on what it was like to write her libretto for ‘The Virtues of Things’, an opera she created in collaboration with composer Matt Rogers.

With recent art-prize winners sharing their money with their fellow nominees, and more awards launched that focus on mentoring rather than cash, an emphasis on solidarity and collaboration is one of the changes highlighted in our look at the evolution of some of the UK’s contemporary art prizes. Another shift has meant that this year’s Turner Prize winner, when announced in December, could be the first artist aged over 50 to take the award since 1991.

We also delve into two separate exhibitions opening this autumn – at the British Museum in London and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford – which tell the story of religious faith around the world through objects rather than texts. British Museum curator Jill Cook tells us the histories of six key objects made between 40,000 years ago and less than 100 years ago. In terms of what it means to be human, these objects and works of art that have been imbued with significance and left behind for future generations provide the most enduring legacy of all.

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Tags: Art Quarterly