An update on Courtauld Connects

An update on Courtauld Connects

Last year was one of the most intense in the history of The Courtauld. We are at a moment of great change and excitement as we embark upon an unprecedented transformation project, Courtauld Connects, to rejuvenate our teaching, research, exhibitions, outreach and buildings, to ensure that we continue to flourish as the world’s foremost centre for the study of art history and conservation, with an outstanding gallery and collection at its heart.

The transformations have already started and the Gallery has now closed its doors for two years. In order to protect the student experience while building work takes place, The Courtauld’s teaching and learning facilities, faculty offices, conservation studios, student and academic services, the core book library, public programmes and most Research Forum events have moved site to our temporary campus in Vernon Square, just south of King’s Cross. Curatorial and administrative offices, the photographic libraries (along with the digitisation and volunteer projects) and special book collections will remain in Somerset House until the end of Phase 1 of the project. Our chief founder, Samuel Courtauld, believed deeply in the transformative power of art and the importance of art being accessible to all. The changes being made under Courtauld Connects will realise this vision of The Courtauld as a physically accessible and inclusive site, as well as demonstrating our position as an outstanding cultural force within the wider arena of the art world.

Courtauld Connects has enabled us to forge new collaborations and relationships with art institutions throughout the UK and internationally. Here in London we have partnered with the National Gallery to produce a major exhibition, Courtauld Impressionists: from Manet to Cézanne, which opened in September to tremendous reviews. Following the close of the exhibition, the National Gallery has most generously given us a designated space for a rotating display of old masters from The Courtauld’s collection, with additional works placed in appropriate contexts throughout the National Gallery for the duration of our gallery’s closure. Further afield, we have established a highly successful regional programme, Courtauld National, which has already enabled us to send core works to Hull, Belfast, Coventry and Preston, and begin touring our flagship festival of art history, Res|Fest, in Belfast.

We also have important international projects on the horizon. We are delighted to be collaborating with the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris on the exhibition, The Courtauld Collection: A Vision for Impressionism, which will open in February 2019. Showcasing around 100 works that all belonged to Samuel Courtauld, this landmark exhibition will explore Samuel’s role as one of the great collectors of the twentieth century. It will also place both The Courtauld and Samuel Courtauld himself – as a collector and institution builder – firmly on the European cultural map. This project in Paris will also provide a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with our alumni in France.

"We are at a moment of great change and excitement as we embark upon an unprecedented transformation project"

After Paris, 50 important works from our collection will travel to Japan for a three city exhibition tour to Tokyo, Nagoya and Kobe, beginning its journey at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in September 2019. These partnerships will align with the Britain-Japan ‘Year of Culture’ organised by the British Council ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

At this time of inspiring international partnerships, it seems fitting that we remind ourselves of the impressive global connections and perspectives that our alumni offer us through their achievements across the world. Our recent edition of The Courtauld News includes interviews with Naomi Beckwith (MA 1999), who continues to make her mark as Senior Curator at the Museum of Modern Art, Chicago. In New York, one of our alumnae, Alexandra Morris (MA 2008), has opened a gallery that champions and specialises in contemporary Latin American artists. Poppy Field (BA 2016) shared her experience of forging a career as a contemporary sculptor in the capital city of the Italian Renaissance, Florence, and I interviewed our Associate Lecturer and alumna Zehra Jumabhoy (PhD 2017) on her exhibition The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India, at Asia Society in New York. Susie Nash discussed her research work in Paris and Dijon, as part of her major research fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust and, after co-curating two blockbuster exhibitions at Tate Modern this year, Nancy Ireson (PhD 2005), has transferred her expertise from London to the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Deputy Head of The Courtauld Gallery, Barnaby Wright, caught up with Nancy about the Picasso: Love, Fame, Tragedy exhibition which she co-curated at Tate Modern last year.

Here on home turf 2018 saw an exceptionally rich and productive programme of activity. The Courtauld News showcased highlights from the wide range of exciting activity taking place in our community – including student projects, PhD research, the digitisation of the Conway Library and highlights from the innovative programme of the Sackler Research Forum. The year also saw a significant number of talented new staff join the faculty. At the beginning of the autumn term we welcomed Jessica Barker (Lecturer in Medieval Art History) and Esther Chadwick (Lecturer in Early Modern Art History) to our Art History department and Clare Richardson (Lecturer in Conservation) to our Conservation and Technology team. This January, we welcomed Stephen Whiteman as Senior Lecturer in Chinese Art History. Jo Applin, Reader in the History of Art and a modern and contemporary specialist, also moves to her new role as Head of the History of Art Department.

As we move into 2019 we launch ourselves further into this crucial chapter in our history, and we look forward to engaging you all in our journey of transformation. At this pivotal time, we rely more than ever on your generous support. I would therefore like to extend my warmest thanks to all those who donated to The Courtauld in 2018. All your donations, whatever their size, help us to galvanise our position as champions for the future of the visual arts and art historical learning.

Originally published in the 2017/18 edition of The Courtauld News

Keep in touch