black and white photograph of sculptures on display at Temple Newsam

Modern Art at Temple Newsam: Revisiting Philip Hendy’s Wartime Exhibitions

Date/Time: 27 April 2024 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Price: £12.50, £10 for Leeds Art Fund members

Gallery: Tues - Sat: 10am - 5pm / Sun: 11am - 3pm
Tiled Hall Cafe: Tues - Sat: 10am - 5pm / Sun: 11am - 3pm
Shop: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm / Sun: 11am - 3pm

This talk by Assistant Curator of Sculpture Dr Clare Nadal will retrace the history of the ground-breaking exhibitions of modern art that took place at Temple Newsam during the wartime period and their legacy for the display of contemporary art in historic houses more broadly.

In August 1939 on the eve of the Second World War, the collections at Leeds Art Gallery were transferred to nearby Temple Newsam for safekeeping due to the threat of bombing. The Art Gallery subsequently closed for the duration of the war, while Temple Newsam reopened to the public, remaining open throughout the wartime years. To allow the Art Gallery’s collections to continue to be displayed during this time, rooms in the South Wing of the house were adapted as ‘galleries for modern pictures’.

In addition to displaying works from the permanent collection, these refurbished spaces formed the impetus for a series of significant contemporary art exhibitions instigated by then Director of Leeds Art Gallery and Temple Newsam, Philip Hendy. From 1940 until after the war, Temple Newsam hosted a series of solo and group exhibitions by some of the leading modernist artists of the day, including Barbara Hepworth, Ivon Hitchens, Henry Moore, John Piper, Matthew Smith and Graham Sutherland. The exhibitions were met with critical success which was reflected in visitor numbers, with the 1941 Henry Moore, John Piper, Graham Sutherland exhibition receiving over 52,000 visitors. As part of a desire to support the work of living artists during the wartime period, the exhibitions also led to significant purchases for the permanent collection. This talk will retrace the history of these ground-breaking, yet little explored, exhibitions and how they came to set a precedent for displaying contemporary art in the historic settings of Temple Newsam.

Tickets £12.50 or £10 for Leeds Art Fund members.

Dr Clare Nadal is Assistant Curator, Sculpture at Leeds Museums and Galleries and the Henry Moore Institute. She completed her PhD at the University of Huddersfield and The Hepworth Wakefield in 2020 on the personal library of Barbara Hepworth, examining the significance that reading held for Hepworth’s art. Clare previously worked as Programme Co-ordinator and Research Co-ordinator at the Henry Moore Institute and Assistant Curator at The Hepworth Wakefield.


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