SOUNDING IMAGES

A selection of the Barber’s most iconic paintings – as you’ve never heard them before! Inspired by works in the gallery, University music students have created new electroacoustic pieces as part of the Sounding Images module. Their selection includes works by Claude, Dahl, Magritte and Auerbach – so take an audio tour of the gallery … Read more

ONLY LIGHT AND SHADOW

Francisco de Goya worked in a politically turbulent period of Spanish history, notoriously articulating his fears and observations through his masterful treatment of light and shadow in his prints. This display of examples from the Barber’s collection places five of Goya’s enigmatic works among those by other Spanish artists, such as Picasso and Miró, who … Read more

I KNOW BUT I DON’T KNOW

Matthew Pagett Imagine a net so wide it catches not just people and places but also their thoughts, feelings and histories. Imagine that net cast over campus… Our artist-in-residence, Matthew Pagett, was asked to respond to our recent exhibition about early-20th-century New York artist George Bellows – and in particular the illustrations Bellows made as … Read more

MORE REAL THAN LIFE

19th-Century Portrait Photography The dawn of photography in the mid-19th century made portraiture accessible to a much wider public. This exhibition explores early photographic studio portraiture, including the popular carte-de-visite format. The exhibition discusses how photographic techniques, backdrops, props, costumes and poses enabled public figures – ranging from Oscar Wilde through Ellen Terry to Queen … Read more

EXCAVATING EMPIRE

David Talbot Rice and the Rediscovery of Byzantium From the 1920s through to the 1950s, renowned archaeologist and art historian David Talbot Rice conducted some of the first examinations of the ruins of the Byzantine Empire. Exhibited here for the first time, photos, drawing and field notes from these studies mark his contribution to bringing … Read more

EXCAVATING EMPIRE

Gold, Silver and Bronze in Byzantium Discover Byzantium – the once-great empire whose glittering capital was the city of Constantinople (today’s Istanbul )- through this intriguing exploration of its coinage and economy. Constantinople’s majesty astounded visitors from across the medieval world. However, the Byzantine empire was eclipsed in popular imagination by its earlier Roman incarnation … Read more

TUMBLEWEED

Hannah Honeywill The intricately ornamented and gilded historic picture frames that surround so many of the paintings in the Barber’s galleries are the starting point for this new sculpture by Hannah Honeywill. An emerging London-based artist and recipient of prestigious Wellcome Trust Arts Award funding, Honeywill combines the exploration of the function and form of … Read more

COPYING THE MASTERS

Paintings have always been copied by other artists and reproduced by printmakers for study or commercial gain. Although, if unauthorised, artists usually condemned the sale of such facsimiles as fraudulent, they have often encouraged printmakers to replicate their work – thereby raising the profile of the original. This display explores the reasons for the popularity … Read more

WORKS OF MERCY

Photographs by Attilio Fiumarella A painting by the great Italian Baroque artist Caravaggio, depicting the seven corporal acts of mercy of traditional Catholicism, is the inspiration for this outstanding series of 14 dramatic images. Like his predecessor, Birmingham-based photographer Fiumarella uses real people as his models – in this case, the homeless and prostitutes from … Read more

Uncovering the Body

Idealised nudes from mythological and religious scenes contrast with uncompromising, and occasionally grotesque, studies of the human form. Complementing the major exhibition Bellows and the Body, this display includes stylistically diverse works from a broad time period, with drawings and prints by artists such as Tiepolo, William Orpen, and a recently acquired nude study by Augustus John.

The Pastoral and the Sublime

Vast, desolate and dramatic landscapes are shown alongside vistas of inhabited, peaceful countryside in this display of works on paper by British artists from 1780 to 1880. It showcases three stunning watercolours by Birmingham-born artist David Cox, recently donated to the gallery, as well as superb watercolours, drawings and prints by Gainsborough, Turner and Constable, among others. Th e display explores the … Read more

Bellows and the Body

The Real, the Ideal and the Nude In February 2015 the Barber announced an important new acquisition – Nude, Miss Bentham (1906), an early masterpiece by one of the most significant American painters of the early 20th century.  This compelling nude study is only the second painting by George Bellows (1882 – 1925) in a … Read more

Buried Treasures

Introduction Buried Treasures: Uncovering Hoards examines 8 of the 48 hoards held in part at the Barber Institute’s coin collection – from here you can explore the exhibition case by case. Unlike a lot of archaeology, hoards can be found by ordinary people, from builders to farmers, metal detectorists to divers. Similarly, the coins and … Read more

Tales of the City

From bustling alleys and intricate architectural detail, to sweeping panoramas of grand public celebrations and towering monuments, this display of prints and drawings captures the vibrancy and expansion of European cities from the 17th to the 19th century.  Curated to mark the recent acquisition of two views of Paris after Thomas Girtin (right), it includes … Read more

All the World’s a Stage

Court, Patrons & Writers in Shakespeare’s Circle Marking the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, this exhibition, the Barber’s first ever exploring Elizabethan and Jacobean art, focuses on the Bard’s chief patrons at court, and on other leading writers – rivals and associates. Organised in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, London, it features … Read more

Curious Beauty

Playful putti, nude nymphs and sinister satyrs adorn the intricate and imaginative ‘Suite de Vases’ by Ennemond-Alexandre Petitot (1727 – 1801). This display showcases eleven of his beautifully eccentric, neoclassical drawings for ornamental vases, engraved by Benigno Bossi (1727 – 1792). First published as a set of 31 plates in 1764, they combine Petitot’s architectural … Read more

Buried Treasures

Uncovering Hoards Buried treasure – and the excitement of discovering it – lies at the heart of this fascinating exhibition exploring coin hoards. The Barber Institute’s collection contains coins from no fewer than 48 hoards, of which eight will be uncovered here. These include two caches unearthed in Britain: the Dorchester Hoard (pictured right), dug … Read more

Chance, Order, Change

Abstract Paintings 1939 – 1989 Josef Albers, Bridget Riley, Victor Pasmore, Ad Reinhardt and Sean Scully: some of the most influential artists of the later 20th century feature in this exciting exhibition, which forms the centrepiece of the spring programme. Coming to the Barber from an important private collection and never before seen together in public, … Read more

Into the Woods

From leafy bowers sheltering weary travellers to the melancholy or menace of brooding forests and overgrown paths, these prints and drawings explore man’s relationship with trees, woods and forests, and are drawn from a wide-ranging geographical area and period. Curated around one of our latest long-term loans, ‘Path Through a Dark Wooded Landscape’ by John … Read more

Prestige & Power

Projecting identity in 17th-century Portraiture Artists, writers, politicians and royalty come under the spotlight in this display, which explores how portraiture was used to assert status, celebrate achievements and project individuality in the 17th century. It features prints, drawings and miniatures from the Barber’s own collection along with miniatures on loan from two fine private … Read more

Terms of Engagement

Portraits from the University of Birmingham Jacob Epstein, Tom Phillips, Humphrey Ocean and Jennifer McRae: some of the most respected British artists of the 20th century have been commissioned by the University over the past 100 years to portray and honour its chancellors, vice chancellors and other leading figures. This selection features oil paintings, works … Read more

The Age of Innocence

Stolen gingerbread, spirited laughter, serenely slumbering infants and poised young girls provide some colourful contrasts in this exploration of the evolving imagery of children and childhood.  Curated to complement Flinck in Focus, this display includes stylistically diverse prints and drawings selected from the Barber’s collection – from tranquil religious prints of the 17th century to … Read more

Flinck in Focus

A Question of Identity in 17th-century Dutch Portraiture One of Rembrandt’s most talented pupils, Govert Flinck was a highly prized and extremely successful portraitist and history painter, with a reputation that grew to match even that of his master. He was particularly popular for his portraits of children – a genre his teacher eschewed. But his … Read more

Love, Life & Landscapes

German Romantic Prints and Drawings from the Barber’s Collection Inspired by their native landscape, mythology and history, 19th-century German Romantic artists were fascinated with the themes of nature, love and the fragility of life. This display explores the motives behind the fantastical imagery of some of the best known exponents, including Carl Wilhelm Kolbe, Adrian … Read more

From ‘Red’ Ellen to Oswald Mosley

Portraits of Inter-War Politicians by Edmund Kapp The 2015 General Election might one day be regarded as one of the most unpredictable and intriguing of this century. But politics a hundred years ago was no less fascinating – and the politicians of the day arguably a good deal more colourful. This display features portrait drawings … Read more

The Modernist Face

Smith, Dobson & British Portraiture 1920-60 A snapshot through the lens of Modernism, this fascinating exhibition explores and juxtaposes the work of two under-appreciated British artists: sculptor Frank Dobson and painter Matthew Smith. Discussing the dynamic relationshop between sitter and artist within the broader cultural context of the period, it features such celebrated contributors to … Read more

Gods & Heroes

Epic ambitions underpin this display inspired by Hercules and Caucus, the magnificent chiaroscuro woodcut by Hendrick Goltzius, recently acquired for the gallery. Gods and Heroes includes prints after Titian, Michelangelo and Rubens, featuring subjects drawn from both ancient mythology and the Judo-Christian tradition. It seeks to uncover the methods and motives behind the representation of … Read more

REVOLUTIONISING FASHION

The frivolous and extravagant fashions of the Ancien Regime were brought to a swift and bloody end at the onset of the French Revolution in 1789. In the ensuing years, a taste for simpler, classically inspired clothing migrated across from Revolutionary France into Britain. This display explores the depiction of fashionable dress in an array … Read more

Inheriting Rome

The Imperial Legacy in Coinage and Culture Look at one of the coins you’re carrying today: you’ll see the Queen’s portrait facing right and Latin script around the royal head. It seems our coins have looked this way forever – and that’s nearly true. But why? This exhibition uses money to explore and question our deep-seated familiarity with the Roman Empire’s imagery. Britain is … Read more

New Art West Midlands

Voyeurism, idolatry, the transience of life and orange-phobia are among the diverse subjects and themes explored in this year’s New Art West Midlands. Created in a wide range of media – including oil, acrylic, photography , found objects, textiles and boiled sweets – this multi-site, selective award exhibition showcases work by emerging local artists. The … Read more