John Martin: APOCALYPSE exhibition, Opening 21 September at Tate Britain
John Martin (1789–1854) was a key figure in the nineteenth-century art world, renowned for his dramatic scenes of apocalyptic destruction and biblical disaster. While he was hugely popular, he remained something of an outsider, scorned by the art critics of his time.
Organised in partnership with the Laing, Newcastle, this major exhibition will be the first show dedicated to his paintings for over 30 years, and the largest display of his works seen in public since his death. Bringing together his most famous paintings from collections around the world, as well as previously unseen and newly-restored works, the exhibition will reassess this singular figure in art history, and reflect on the enduring influence of his apocalyptic art on painting, cinema and popular spectacle. The show will also examine how Martin’s populism fits into the story of British art, and how his work connects with the culture of today.
I’m Martin Myrone, the curator of the exhibition at Tate Britain, and I’ve been working on the show with the team here at Tate and our exhibition partners at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle and the Millennium Galleries, Sheffield for the last 2½ years on planning, researching, selecting and organising this exhibition. You may have seen the great version of the show which appeared at Newcastle and Sheffield earlier this year. The Tate show is even larger, with a total of over 120 works – major paintings, sketches and watercolours, and his mezzotints and engineering plans. This will be the biggest collection of his works ever seen, and a chance to reassess this fascinating and exciting nineteenth-century artist.