The summer months in Henley and the surrounding area are filled with music and include the Henley Festival of Music, Glyndebourne and Garsington Opera and the Rewind Pop Festival. This has provided the catalyst for an exhibition which explores the influence of music on some of the leading artists of the 20th Century and with paintings and sculpture commissioned especially for this exhibition, there will be a huge diversity in artistic styles and musical influences.
John Piper, an artist whose work is part of the very fabric at Bohun Gallery (they are the only gallery to have religiously exhibited his work since the early 1970s which they continue to do to this day), spent much of his life surrounded by music. His success as a stage designer is well-known and this exhibition provides the rare opportunity to see his original model stage set for Benjamin Britten's 'Death in Venice' (not for sale), and is accompanied by the sought-after silkscreens of the same subject. Piper's demand as a theatre set designer is emphasised by the addition of a further painting, this time a stage set for Britten's 'Gloriana', which was commissioned by the Royal Opera to celebrate the 1953 Coronation.
The excitement, the tinge of exultation, in the dancing married to modern music and modern art which worked in my blood and bones as it did for many of my generation.
John Piper 'Designing for Britten', 1979
A change in his [John Piper's] palette in the early 1950s may relate to a change in his musical taste. Around this time he developed an obsession with the music of Rachmaninov. Rather hesitantley, he mentioned the composer's name to Britten "Ah, there's a great composer" came the reply, after which he never looked back and bought all the Rachmaninov records he could find.
Frances Spalding 'John Piper: Lives in Art'
Two of the artists most intrinsically linked with Bohun Gallery's long history (the gallery was established in 1973) Mary Fedden and Julian Trevelyan shared a great love of music which was an integral part of their long and happy relationship. They regularly invited groups of musicians to give recitals in the large sitting room at Durham Wharf, overlooking the river. The exhibition includes both an oil painting and an etching by Trevelyan depicting such occasions, with pianists and oboe players - possibly Julian himself. A still life by Fedden displays the preparations for a musical event with a violin and Mozart score atop a piano and a huge platter of fruit.
It was Julian who introduced her to opera. Glyndebourne in particular had become an integral and enjoyable part of her life, borne out in her work.
Christopher Andrae 'Mary Fedden: Themes and Variations' page 73
Benjamin Britten's influence on artists extends into the 21st Century in the form of new work by Maggi Hambling. The first National Gallery Artist in Residence (1980-81), Hambling has established a reputation over the last four decades as one of Britain's most significant and controversial painters and sculptors. Bohun Gallery is privileged to be the first gallery outside London to be exhibiting examples from her 'War Requiem II' and 'Walls of Water' suites which have recently been at Somerset House and the National Gallery respectively. They present a response to the profound and enduring power of Britten's music and the futility of war.
As a student I heard a recording of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem soon after its premiere at Coventry Cathedral in 1963. The piece's dynamic combination of strangeness, horror, lament, fear, strife, tenderness, chilling authority and grandeur was unlike anything I had previously experienced. The profound and enduring power of Britten's music is an important factor in my War Requiem.
One of the most familiar links between art and music is that of the Pop Art Movement of the 1950s and 60s. The imagery was inextricably linked with the popular music of the day and many Pop Artists worked directly with musicians developing artwork for the album sleeves. Two of the greatest names linked with this British art movment feature in the show with sculpture by Allen Jones RA and silkscreens by Sir Peter Blake.
I wanted to make an art that was the equivalent of pop music. Sir Peter Blake
The Allen Jones retrospective at the Royal Academy's Burlington Gardens is like walking into a great party, full of like-minded souls dancing to the same music.
Huffington Post Review of the RA retrospective.
Eccentric artist, sculptor and founder of The Alternative Miss World, Andrew Logan, exhibits for the first time at Bohun Gallery with a be-jewelled and dazzling piece depicting Liberace as a colourful, strutting peacock.
Feliks Topolski believed his artistic urge, his mission in life, was to 'bear witness', and to chronicle the major political and social events and the iconic historical personalities that defined and fashioned the 20th Century. He spent many months throughout the 60's and 70's in America painting commissions, travelling the length and breadth of the country, constantly drawing. Bohun Gallery have a selection of images from this period including, amongst others, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and The Byrds. A drawing of Simon & Garfunkel (pictured) also acts as a historical document, having been saved from the fire which devastated the artist's studio in 1968.
Bohun Gallery has been a long-standing supporter of emerging artists and they will be showing etchings by the recent Threadneedle Prizewinner Tom Hammick. Rising Star, Hammick was recently selected as Artist in Residence for the English National Opera. This position led to a suite of etchings featuring The Rake's Progress and Cosi Fan Tutte, both of which are featured in the show.
The gallery has commissioned a number of its regular artists to respond to the title of Artists and Music resulting in a wide variety of paintings and sculptures drawing inspiration from a huge range of musical influences.
The relationship of the silence between one note and the next and the loudness of the next note in relation to the softness of the one before is very much like abstract art to me.
Terry Frost on Desert Island Discs, April 1998
Bert [Albert Irvin RA] had an extensive knowledge of classical music and often referred to its links to painting. one of my most memorable reflections and a typical example of Bert's wit, was the way he described the importance of music to painting, which for him was the realisation that it was possible to say what it felt like to be a human being without having to paint noses and feet.
In Memoriam, Basil Beattie RA, 2015
Painting and music are from the same bit of the soul, only the medium is different.
The Music Room' was a subject which dominated a large proportion of Ceri Richards' work during the 1940s. The images depict a female, alone and utterly absorbed in her music and unaware that she is being observed.
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