CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to EDP Norfolk today CLICK HERE

Strangely Magnificent

PUBLISHED: 14:30 08 September 2015

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts is hosting the Magnificent Obsessions exhibition, from this month until January,

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts is hosting the Magnificent Obsessions exhibition, from this month until January,


They’re the artists the world loves to collect - but what do they collect themselves? That’s the starting point for a fascinating new exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich. Trevor Heaton reports.

Their works go, in some cases, for tens of millions of pounds, and include some of the most iconic works of their generation.

But behind the public face of such famous artists as Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Sgt Pepper cover-designing Sir Peter Blake there’s a quirkier side - their own private collections.

That’s the theme of the latest major exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, on the University of East Anglia campus in Norwich. The show, Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector - which opens on September 12 - lets us see the hidden, often playful, side of these and other post-war and contemporary artists, including Arman, Edmund de Waal, Howard Hodgkin, Sol LeWitt, Martin Parr, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Pae White.

Who’d have guessed, for example, that Warhol - who often shocked and confounded the art establishment in the 1960s - was such a fan of kitsch cookie jars?

By including both artworks and works from their private collections, Magnificent Obsessions shows the many ways in which the astonishing variety of things that artists surround themselves with directly impacts the art they make. These extraordinary collections - from samurai armour to glass eyes, scarves to space memorabilia - help reveal the creative processes of some of the most important artists of the past 50 years.

In 1960s America, Warhol redefined what we consider as art with his Pop prints of everyday items such as Brillo Pads and Heinz soup tins. An obsessive collector, Warhol hoarded an ever-growing stash of bric-a-brac and had a particular passion for mass-produced cookie jars.

Here in the UK, Peter Blake made iconic Pop Art works from the 1960s with a quirky combination of painting, print, collage and objects. As a teenager Blake bought objects, paintings and books from a station junkyard, triggering a life time of collecting. His home and studio are now filled with an eclectic mix of objects that range from elephants to shop signs and Punch and Judy puppets.

Hirst - the most talked-about artist of his generation - became the centre of Brit Art in the 1990s, notorious for his sharks and sheep, suspended forever in formaldehyde, so perhaps it comes as no surprise that he is an avid collector of taxidermy.

Ceramicist Edmund de Waal - whose family memoir The Hare With The Golden Eyes was a major bestseller a couple of years back - collects netsuke, exquisite miniature Japanese sculptures, while Howard Hodgkin’s glorious paintings in brilliant colour are collected and shown internationally, but perhaps he is less well known for his important collection of jewel-like Indian miniature paintings.

Sugimoto first met Robert and Lisa Sainsbury (the benefactors whose collection forms the core of the Sainsbury Centre) when they bought works from Japan from his gallery in New York, works that are currently on show in the centre. Sugimoto is now an internationally acclaimed artist working with photography. A career as a dealer of antiquities led to personal acquisitions, and his intriguing collection includes early medical illustrations and glass eyes.

Other individual collections on display include: African art and samurai armour owned by Arman; Sol LeWitt’s Japanese prints, modernist photographs and music scores; 20th-century British postcards and Soviet space dog memorabilia from Martin Parr, and more than 1,000 vintage scarves and other textiles by the American designer Vera Neumann from Pae White.

Visitors to the exhibition will also be invited to share their collections to create an interactive display that will form part of the exhibition.

The show has already been a hit at The Barbican in London, and hopes are high that its only East Anglian appearance will be just as sucessful.◆

Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector opens at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts on September 12 and runs to January 24 next year. The show is curated and organised by Barbican Centre, London. Admission is £12, concessions £10.50;

More from Out & About

Sunday, October 28, 2018

For a county that’s so steeped in history, it’s not surprising that Norfolk has its fair share of ghost sightings and paranormal activity. We have gathered an unlucky 13 legendary haunted places to visit if you dare!

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Stockton villagers in Norfolk gain a grant of £1,000 to help fund new bus shelters on the A146 Norwich Road, as part of Calor’s annual funding scheme

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Scole Nature Trail Trust is celebrating a grant of £1,000 to help fund new facilities as part of the rural energy provider’s annual funding scheme

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Cobbled roads, rural pathways and coastal walks, Norfolk has a plethora of streets that are a pleasure to explore. Here we have collected just eight of the pretty streets in Nelson’s County

Read more
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

We all know how to pronounce it properly. (Think win and you’re a winner, think why and you’re not.) But did you know all these winning facts about Wymondham?

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Norfolk Ramblers guide us on a beautiful autumnal walk around Blickling Hall, near Aylsham

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The landscape designer who nurtured some of Norfolk’s grandest gardens is the star of a beautiful new book

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Do you know your Bawdseys from your Blakeneys and your Cromers from your Covehithes? Take our quiz to test your knowledge of the Suffolk and Norfolk coast!

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

An ancient castle and a massive mill are two of the highlights on this walk with Norfolk Ramblers

Read more
September 2018
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Golden sands, silver darlings, candyfloss and rock, festival fun, white-knuckle thrills and a heady cocktail of sun, sea and history are just some of the great things about Yarmouth

Read more
September 2018

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search