Bringing ‘Modern Masters’ to Devon


‘Modern Masters in Print: Matisse, Picasso, Dali and Warhol’
Burton Art Gallery and Museum
Sat 04 May – Mon 15 July 2013

The Burton Art Gallery and Museum in Bideford, North Devon, has come a long way since it was first established on 31 October 1951, by local businessman Thomas Burton and successful artist Hubert Coop, to commemorate the untimely death of Burton’s daughter, Mary.

From the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers to Jerwood Visual Arts, from the Barbican to the Royal Academy, there are few major British art institutions the Burton has not managed to forge strong links with over recent years. As a result, it has brought some of the most important exhibitions by high calibre national and international artists to the county, much to the delight of art enthusiasts from across the South West.

Visual Arts Manager Miranda Clarke, who has been working at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum since October 2008, says: ‘North Devon is home to some very high profile artists such as Gillian Ayres, Sandy Brown, George Shaw, and Damien Hirst and the Burton is unique in that it is the only art space in the vicinity that has the capacity to exhibit work by artists with such international profiles. With 2 exhibition spaces, a retail area, an education space and a café in addition to the heritage displays and craft gallery, we recognise that we are in an ideal position. Not only do we support continuing professional development for regional artists, providing opportunity for exhibiting, selling and research, we also provide excellent and unique arts education opportunities for local communities, as well as facilitating bigger shows that excite and attract local, regional and national visitors of all ages.’

Miranda Clarke, Visual Arts Manager at the Burton Art Gallery, Bideford

In 2010, the Burton hosted an exhibition of prints by Howard Hodgkin on tour from The Barbican, London. Howard Hodgkin himself attended the opening of the exhibition, and The Guardian’s ‘The Guide’ featured the show as one of the Top 5 exhibitions in the country. Now, this Spring, the exhibition ‘Modern Masters in Print: Matisse, Picasso, Dali and Warhol’, fresh from London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, is set to draw unprecedented visitor numbers to the Gallery and may well make 2013 its most successful year to date.

Matisse, Picasso, Dali and Warhol. Who does not know these names, art buff or not? Few people, nevertheless, would refer to any of these four artists as printmakers. One could say that printmaking is to visual art, what short filmmaking is to film. Originally a means to an end, a way of exploring and presenting ideas in an immediate way, it’s no longer just that. Like short film, the medium of print has, over the years, gained the status of an art form in its own right. Professional print workshops all over the UK are seeing an ever-increasing number of requests for membership. In 2011, the UK hosted the first ever International Print Biennale in Newcastle, following on from the success of the 2009 Northern Print Biennale which was the first major project in the UK for 20 years concentrating on the diversity of contemporary printmaking. The rising popularity of print has meant a re-evaluation and a re-appreciation of the role that it has played in the oeuvre of many of the greatest artists of the 20th century and, crucially, what role these artists themselves have played in the development of the discipline of printmaking.

The ‘Modern Masters’ in this exhibition, each had their own undeniable and unique influence on printmaking as we know it today. Picasso still baffles the most accomplished printmakers with his output, not just because of its sheer volume – his published prints alone total about 2000 different images – but also because of the number of printing techniques he mastered and even reinvented by pushing them beyond what had thus far been considered their limits of usage. Due to a combination of necessity and imaginative genius, Warhol invented his own portable printing press and developed his unique trademark technique of reproduction through a simple monotype process of applying ink on glazed or coated material and then pressing it onto absorbent paper. Though for Matisse, drawing was the basis of all his art and printmaking was initially simply an extension of this, he ultimately became an innovator in the way serial images were presented in and as works of art. Dali, who possibly excelled in the widest variety of art disciplines of all his peers, was the first major artist that deliberately used the medium of print to make his brilliant work accessible to the masses.

If anything, a continued passion for printmaking is the one thing that connects these four wildly varying artistic geniuses. In any case, there are few better ways to explore and appreciate the extraordinary precision in their artistry than by having a close look at the prints in this exhibition which draws together, from the V&A’s outstanding collections, some of the most fascinating works these trailblazers have ever produced.

After all these years and so many exciting new developments since its inception, the Burton Art Gallery has managed to stay true to its roots and honour the ethos of its founders, so wonderfully reflected in this letter by Hubert Coop to the Bideford Gazette in October 1949;
‘It’s a happy chance that two old townsmen have come together to make a last effort to leave the town richer than they found it. The gallery should be a peaceful haven where one may take a quiet look at beautiful things; a gallery for the enjoyment, education and good of all, old and young, inhabitants and vistors, – everyone and as far as one can tell, of lasting credit to the living and those to come…’

Modern Masters opens on the 4th May 2pm, with an informal talk and tour by Gill Saunders, Senior Curator in the Word & Image Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Curator of Modern Masters. A range of events and workshops accompany the exhibition, for further information contact the Burton or go to

‘Modern Masters in Print: Matisse, Picasso, Dali and Warhol’
At the Burton Art Gallery and Museum
Sat 04 May – Mon 15 July 2013

Burton Art Gallery and Museum, Kingsley Road, Bideford, Devon. EX39 2QQ
T: 01237 471455

OUT NOW: No Tragedy, new single and short film by Exeter music/filmmaker duo Drunk With Joy..

By Digital Institute of Early Parenthood Posted in Uncategorized

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