A Golden Jubilee: 50 Years of the Barber Coin Collection

In 2020, the Barber celebrates the golden anniversary of its coin collection – one of the most significant in the world. Scholars and numismatists, Geoffrey Haines (1899 – 1981) and Philip Whitting (1903 – 1988), each left their vast collections of a combined 15,000 pieces to the Barber with the condition that the coins were … Read more

Changing Shapes: Metamorphosis in Art

More than 250 myths are woven together through themes of psychological and physical transformation – as well as love, pursuit and punishment – to create ‘Metamorphoses’ (8AD) an epic poem by Ovid (43BC – 17AD), who was the leading poet in Rome under the reign of Augustus. Stirring European artists for centuries, these ambitious themes … Read more

The Art of Devotion: Sacred Illuminations, Prints, and Drawings

Throughout the medieval and early modern periods, decoding the mysteries of the Bible and the Gospels was an alluring and profitable enterprise for European artists and patrons. The demand for devotional material required innovation by the artists – to create new and varied art in a changing artistic landscape. According to legend, Luke the Evangelist … Read more

CÉZANNE AND THE MODERN FRENCH PRINT

Centring on an exciting new loan – ‘Les Baigneurs, Petite Planche’, an 1896-7 lithograph by Paul Cézanne – this display explores a pivotal point in French avant-garde art. The artist made only nine prints across the whole of his career, two of which are in the Barber’s collection. The three prints together form a group … Read more

MATERNAL BONDS – IMAGES OF MOTHERHOOD

Though one of the most timeless relationships represented in art, the portrayal of mother and child has changed over the course of history. Spanning five centuries, ‘Maternal Bonds’ showcases prints by Marcantonio Raimondi, Hans Thoma and Käthe Kollwitz, alongside drawings by the Dutch Golden Age artists Nicolaes Maes and Adriaen van Ostade. Ranging from religious … Read more

CORNWALL AS CRUCIBLE – Modernity and Internationalism in Mid-century Britain

Remote and picturesque, St Ives in Cornwall became an unlikely hotbed for avant-garde art in the mid 20th century. Painters and sculptors made it their home, either permanently or as temporary exiles, bringing with them their preoccupation with international modernity. Taking as its inspiration the Barber’s recently acquired Constructivist sculpture, ‘Linear Construction in Space No. 1’ … Read more

The Printed Word: Image, Text and Meaning

Text and image come under discussion in European prints from the 16th to the 20th century by or after artists as diverse as Samuel Palmer, Goya, Grosz and Miró. Inscriptions on portraits, literary references in historical images, lettering styles, and text as an element of composition: all these fascinating issues are explored. The display includes … Read more

The Mughals: Power and Beauty at the Indian Court

Courtly life, power and culture in the Indian subcontinent under Mughal rule (1526 – 1858) are explored in this fascinating display of drawings and prints, coins and manuscripts. Objects lent by the University’s Cadbury Research Library (CRL) and the private Hussain-Islimi Arts Collection – alongside rarely-exhibited works from the Barber’s own collection – reveal how … Read more

Truly Bright and Memorable: Jan de Beer’s Renaissance Altarpieces

Famed in his lifetime and for several generations after his death for his stylish and elegant paintings, Antwerp’s Jan de Beer (c. 1475 – 1527/28) created dazzling altarpieces that appealed to churches at home and abroad, copyists, patrons and collectors. However, his star subsequently waned until the early 20th century, when experts and connoisseurs began … Read more

The Face of Fashion

Portrait miniatures were popular in Europe from the early 17th-century until around the 1850s, depicting their sitters in the silks, brocades and lace that adorned the garments of the day. Often ornate and gem-like, many were designed to be worn on the body – themselves becoming fashion accessories. This display, featuring a selection of exquisite … Read more

Lady Barber’s Life and Legacy

A 150th Birthday Tribute The Barber Institute’s founder, Lady Barber (1869 – 1933), was born Martha Constance Hattie Onions, on 16 May 1869 at Earl’s Croome in Worcestershire. This display, celebrating the 150th anniversary of her birth, turns the spotlight on Lady Barber’s life: her social circle, her artistic endeavours, and her interests in gardening, … Read more

The Paper Museum: the Curious Eye of Cassiano dal Pozzo

An unquenchable curiosity and desire to document the world around him drove the Italian patron Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588 – 1657) to assemble his ‘Paper Museum’ – a spectacular collection of around 10,000 drawings, watercolours and prints. It covered antiquities, architecture, zoology, botany and geology, social customs and ceremonies, costumes, portraits, topography and military maps. … Read more

A Tale of Two Empires: Rome and Persia

A stand-off between two superpowers may feel like a relatively modern phenomenon – but it is one with roots extending back thousands of years. ‘A Tale of Two Empires’ charts a fascinating journey: from the violence, glory and humiliation of the third century; through the artistic interaction, peace, and tolerance of the early fifth to … Read more

FROM OUTSIDE: Tess Jaray

The elegant Art Deco design of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts inspires six major new paintings by Tess Jaray, RA. One of Britain’s most distinguished and influential painters and printmakers, Jaray works in the abstract tradition, and her contemplations on form and colour have been inspired by architecture for more than 50 years. These meditative … Read more

Drawing Out the Sound

Representations of Music in Art How can sound be evoked in a drawing? Can a work of art sing? Throughout history, artists have been fascinated with depicting music, grappling with the challenge of conjuring sound through a silent and visual medium. In this display, prints and drawings from the 15th to the 20th century allow … Read more

War and Peace

Observations of Conflict and its Aftermath The dynamism and violence of conflict and the horror of its consequences have always been fertile subject-matter for artists commissioned or compelled to document war. This display of prints explores conflicts from four periods in history – from the battles of Louis XIII in the 17th century via the … Read more

Maman: Vuillard & Madame Vuillard

Édouard Vuillard painted his mother more than 500 times throughout his career. Striving to establish himself among the French avant-garde, Vuillard lived and worked in modest apartments shared with his mother and other members of their family in Paris. He lovingly portrayed Madame Vuillard as carer, housewife and businesswoman, running a dress-making business from her … Read more

The Barber Collective

The Barber Collective re-interpret the collection through interdisciplinary art, music and performance practice. Collaborating with artists, designers and musicians, the group of 16 – 21 year olds discuss, re-imagine and create. Enjoy this exhibition of work by the first cohort. Check out their Instagram to see what they’ve been up to. 

Centre Stage

Entertainment in Art  The dynamism, spectacle and artifice of the stage – whether theatre or circus – have fascinated artists since time immemorial – and this display acknowledges the UK’s 250th anniversary of the circus. This selection of works on paper from the Barber’s collection explore how Degas, Sickert and others have portrayed figures linked … Read more

Sounding Images

The Barber’s art works as you’ve never heard them before… As part of their Sounding Images module, University of Birmingham music students have created new electroacoustic pieces inspired by works in the Barber collection. Listen to four paintings in the gallery, including the Henri Matisse loan ‘Landscape in Corsica’, on this audio tour, and experience … Read more

Drawn to Perfection

Masterworks from the Royal Collection Absolutely integral to the processes of art, drawings have always served many crucial and varied functions. This first exhibition in an exciting new partnership with Royal Collection Trust explores their use – as prototypes for paintings and frescoes, tapestries, sculpture or architecture, and as detailed working sketches that allow an … Read more

New York City Life

Prints by John Sloan John Sloan was a contemporary of George Bellows, and his work – like that of his fellow Ashcanners – provides fascinating historical insights into Manhattan life in a period of rapid social change. These rare prints, a gift to the Barber from Delaware Art Museum prompted by our 2016 exhibition Bellows … Read more

The Last Roman

Emperor Justinian I (527 – 565 AD), the so-called ‘Last Roman Emperor’, rose from peasant beginnings in Serbia to become the most powerful man on Earth. Crowned Emperor of the Romans at Constantinople in 527 AD, Justinian’s reign saw a surge in the might of the Roman Empire – land in the West was reclaimed … Read more

Sir Joshua Reynolds: Artist and Collector

When the Royal Academy of Arts was founded in 1768, it elected Sir Joshua Reynolds – then England’s most prominent painter – as its first President. As part of a programme of events around the UK to mark 250 years of the Royal Academy, we celebrate Reynolds as artist and collector. The display brings together the four … Read more

The Rhythm of Light

Immensely appealing works by the four artists known collectively as the ‘Scottish Colourists’ – SJ Peploe, JD Fergusson, FCB Cadell and Leslie Hunter – are shown together for the first time in the West Midlands in this exhibition of works lent by the important Fleming Collection. Painted in the early 20th century, their cityscapes, still … Read more

The Artist in Art

Portraits of artists – by themselves or others – are the focus of this display from the Barber’s works on paper collection. Featuring works that span three centuries, it will include prints by Rembrandt, Cézanne and van Dyck, alongside subjects such as Picasso and Rodin. The display will explore the relationship between sitter and artist, … Read more

Working in Colour

The language of colour across four centuries of printmaking is explored in this display that complements the Barber’s main spring exhibition, ‘The Rhythm of Light’. Featuring at least six different types of printmaking and numerous colouring techniques by artists as diverse as Gillray, Turner, Max Ernst and Edward Lear, It also explores the possible functions, … Read more

KOLLWITZ AND CONTEMPORARIES

German Graphic Art 1910 – 1923 Käthe Kollwitz (1867 – 1954) lived through a tumultuous period in Germany’s history, from the birth of its empire to the fall of the Third Reich, and unflinchingly depicted the devastating effects of starvation, war and inequality. Drawing and experimenting with print techniques enabled her and her contemporaries to … Read more

TALES FROM HISTORY

History subjects from the Bible and classical mythology, in Dutch prints and drawings, feature in this display to complement Pride and Persecution. Focusing on some rarely shown prints and drawings by Rembrandt and his pupils, it also includes etchings by Dutch masters after paintings by Adam Elsheimer, whose work was an important influence on Rembrandt. … Read more

PRIDE AND PERSECUTION

Jan Steen’s Old Testament Scenes Jan Steen is one of the most engaging and brilliant artists of the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age. Best known for humourous, gently moralising scenes of everyday life, he also produced some 70 remarkable paintings narrating scenes from the Bible and classical mythology and history. This innovative exhibition puts into context … Read more