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Virtual ‘exhibitions’: National; October; Ben Uri

09 April, 2020 — By John Evans

Titian (Italian, 1488-1576), Rape of Europa, 1562, oil on canvas, 178 x 205cm. © Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

IT seems an age ago that the National launched its blockbuster Titian: Love, Desire, Death with a press view. It opened to the public on March 16, but after three days the gallery closed. This breathtaking show of emotionally charged mythological “poesie” paintings Titian produced for Philip II of Spain, reunites six original works for the first time since the late 16th century. It was due to run until June 14.

The National summed up the mood, announcing: “Galleries, museums and their collections are important in these difficult times… our collection remains open for everyone to explore on the website.” So for now see:

As galleries, public and commercial, at home and abroad, upped their efforts to maintain some services via various social media and online, the focus shifted. There are auctions and virtual “exhibitions” available. And the Covid-19 lockdown has led to notable initiatives. For those with web access, some examples:

• October Gallery has Laugh at Gravity, a selective preview of Benji Reid’s solo show due later this year.

• The London Original Print Fair which was due at the Royal Academy in May, this week announced an online version, to launch on May 1. Visit

• Ben Uri Gallery announces “art for everyone for anytime”.

• Further afield, the Getty Museum in LA “has found a way to keep people engaged with their art even though they can’t see it in person”. Their followers have been recreating an artwork with objects and people “from the comfort of their homes”, one even using a dustpan to represent a blue house found in a Chagall painting! Getty borrowed the idea from Tussen Kunst & Quarantaine, “between art and quarantine,” a Dutch instagram. Individual artists are fundraising for charity and seeking new ways to present work and ideas.

• Cass Art are supporting #isolationartschool with leading artists offering free tutorials via instagram.

• A top site for browsing is Art UK “the online home for the UK’s public art collections” with its facility to search works at more than 3,200 venues.

• For general art news is excellent for information, as is, offering each day “an inspiring exhibition previously on view … allow us to give you a virtual look”.

• And for anyone denied access to the web, the general advice has been to create your own art in quarantine!


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