Posted by to The Blog on September 6th

Two giants of Pop Art, one of the UK’s most exciting contemporary artists and the world-famous posters of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec will be the focus of key exhibitions at the National Galleries of Scotland this autumn, it is announced today.

Among the highlights of the autumn line-up, I Want to be a Machine, at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (SNGMA), will reveal how a fascination for machines and mechanical processes inspired the work of both the American Andy Warhol and British artist ,

Also at the SNGMA, the exuberant, beguiling, multi-layered and spontaneous art of Turner-Prize nominee Monster Chetwynd will be at the heart of the fourth instalment of NOW, the SNGMA’s dynamic three-year series of contemporary art exhibitions.

The spectacular Pin-ups: Toulouse Lautrec and the Art of Celebrity at the Royal Scottish Academy will bring together an extraordinary collection of iconic posters, by Lautrec and his contemporaries, which heralded a revolution in design and the birth of modern celebrity culture.

And, rounding off the year, the much-loved BP Portrait Award, which attracts outstanding portrait artists from around the world, will return to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (SNPG) in December. With the exception of Pin-ups, entry to all of these exhibitions will be free.

I Want to be a Machine takes its name from a much-quoted declaration by Andy Warhol, which the artist made in a key interview in 1963. Behind this seemingly facetious and characteristically off-hand quip was Warhol’s genuine desire to create art that reflected and celebrated our increasingly mechanized, industrial society. Across the Atlantic, at the same time, Eduardo Paolozzi was responding directly to the beauty he found in machine forms, and became fascinated by the interface between man and machine – in robots, computers and electronic storage of the world’s knowledge.

Both artists also drew inspiration from popular and commercial imagery – packaging, movies, advertising – which exploded in the post-war consumer boom. In the 1950s they used popular images as source material either by copying them (Warhol) or by bringing them together in collages (Paolozzi), but around 1962-3 they began to exploit the potential of screenprinting, which allowed them to use photographic images as the direct basis for their works, and made the process of producing artworks more ‘mechanised’.

Warhol’s first screenprints on paper depicted images of soup cans, race riots and celebrities in a deadpan, flat manner, with no hint of the artist’s feelings about his subject or any expressive, subjective style. Modern printing technology also transformed Paolozzi’s way of working, giving him a greater freedom and allowing him to control the forms and colours of his prints in a similar way to an assembly line, which can turn out the same product in a variety of colours.

Tracing this fascinating parallel development in the two artists’ work, I Want to be a Machine will include rarely seen Warhol drawings from the 1950s, his famous multi-coloured prints of Marilyn Monroe (on loan from Tate) and a group of recently acquired ‘stitched’ photographs. The Paolozzi works on show will include early collages made in the 1950s, dazzling, kaleidoscopically coloured prints of the ’60s and ’70s, and a group of sculptures which demonstrates how the artist’s approach to printmaking was mirrored by his works in three dimensions.

The exhibits will be largely drawn from ARTIST ROOMS Collection, which is jointly owned by National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) and Tate, and from the NGS’s own excellent collection.

The fourth instalment of NOW, which opens at the SNGMA (Modern One) on 20 October, will be centred on a major survey of work by Monster Chetwynd. The London-born, Glasgow-based artist – who has previously gone by the names Spartacus Chetwynd and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd – is renowned for her exuberant, improvised performances, which rework iconic moments from cultural history and feature multiple props, costumes and collaborators. These performances also feed into her wider work, which embraces sculpture, painting, installation and video. NOW will feature the first showing in Scotland of new paintings, as well as specially commissioned wallpaper by Chetwynd, composed from imagery of artworks from the NGS collection, collaged with photographs and overpainted by the artist. Also on show will be works from her long-running series of Bat Opera paintings. To complement the presentation of props and imagery related to her performances, the largest room in the exhibition will be devoted to a display of films documenting some of her key performances.

NOW will also bring together new and recent work by four artists who share Chetwynd’s desire to challenge conventions. These include new collages and paintings by Edinburgh-based Moyna Flannigan, a video installation by Glasgow-based Henry Coombes, and the first major presentations in Scotland of installation and video work by the celebrated 92–year-old African-American artist Betye Saar and Egyptian artist Wael Shawky. Saar was born in Los Angeles in 1926, and her career has spanned almost seven decades. She is best known for her collages, assemblages and installations, which incorporate objects, personal memorabilia, and other materials gathered from a lifetime of searching flea markets, thrift shops and yard sales. Her highly political work challenges racial and sexist stereotypes deeply rooted in American culture, and her 1987 installation Mojotech, which will be on show in NOW, also reveals her interest in spirituality and mysticism in the age of technology. Three films by Shawky, which have been inspired by a re-telling of the history of the Crusades from an Arab perspective, will be shown over the run of the exhibition. Exploring notions of national, religious and artistic identity, these epic recreations of medieval clashes between Muslims and Christians were filmed using 200-year-old marionettes from the Lupi collection in Turin, Italy.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec has long been admired for the startlingly modern posters he designed in Paris at the end of the 19th century, which perfectly encapsulate the vibrant, bohemian atmosphere of the city in the era known as the ‘Belle Époque’. His career coincided with a revolutionary moment, just as the poster emerged as an important means of mass-marketing.

Pin-Ups: Toulouse Lautrec and The Art of Celebrity will bring together around 75 posters, prints, paintings and drawings by Lautrec and contemporaries such as Pierre Bonnard, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen and Jules Chéret, the ‘father of the modern poster’. These will include many of the artist’s finest graphic artworks made for legendary nightclubs such as the Moulin Rouge and the Ambassadeurs.

The BP Portrait Award is the most prestigious portrait competition in the world and represents the very best in contemporary portrait painting. Organised by the National Portrait Gallery in London and sponsored by BP, it carries a first prize of £35,000, and a total prize fund of £74,000; this year’s winner was London-based artist Miriam Escofet, whose stunning portrait of her mother, An Angel at my Table, was selected from 2,667 entries submitted by artists from 88 countries. Every year the BP Portrait Award exhibition showcases around 50 outstanding entries, including the work of all of the prize-winners, who in 2018 include American painter Felicia Forte and Chinese artist Zhu Tongyao.

6 October 2018 – 20 January 2019
Royal Scottish Academy
Princes St, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL
0131 624 6200 |
Admission: £11.50 (concessions available)
25 and under £6.50
12 and under FREE | FREE for Our Friends

Monster Chetwynd
Henry Coombes
Moyna Flannigan
Betye Saar
Wael Shawky
20 October 2018 – 28 April 2019
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One)
75 Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3DR
0131 624 6200 |
Admission FREE


17 November 2018 – 2 June 2019
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two)
73 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DS
0131 624 6200 |
Admission FREE

15 December 2018 – 10 March 2019
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD
0131 624 6200 |
Admission FREE

Pictured: Bat Opera, 2014 by Monster Chetwynd. Oil on canvas paper. Image © Monster Chetwynd, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London and Massimo de Carlo, Milan

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