The Courtauld Gallery in London will open its doors in November 2021 following the most significant modernisation project in its history, providing a transformed home for one of the UK’s greatest art collections.
The Courtauld’s collection, which belongs to the Samuel Courtauld Trust and ranges from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century – will be completely redisplayed and reinterpreted. These enhanced spaces will allow The Courtauld to give visitors greater insight into its collections, teaching and research and enable inspiring encounters with its great works of art. In addition, two brand new galleries will provide a beautiful new home for The Courtauld’s acclaimed programme of temporary exhibitions.
Masterpieces from The Courtauld’s world-famous collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art by Cézanne, Manet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Renoir, and Monet will be reunited in the spectacularly restored LVMH Great Room – London’s oldest purpose-built exhibition space and the largest space in Somerset House.
The new displays will reveal the quality and range of the collection like never before. The Blavatnik Fine Rooms, spanning the Piano Nobile across the whole of the second floor, will provide the stunning setting for a series of new displays of works from the Renaissance to the 18th Century. A new space will be dedicated to The Courtauld’s important collection of Medieval and Early Renaissance paintings and decorative arts.
Rooms devoted to 20th Century art and the Bloomsbury Group will showcase lesser-known areas of the collection through rotating displays. A new Project Space on the second floor will provide a flexible platform for spotlighting smaller temporary projects that give visitors special insights into The Courtauld’s collection, conservation and research. Displays in this space will play an important role in better connecting the public with the institution’s work as an internationally-renowned centre for the study of art history and conservation.
The largest work in The Courtauld’s collection – Austrian Expressionist Oskar Kokoschka’s epic triptych The Myth of Prometheus (1950) – will be back on public display for the first time in over a decade in the Katja and Nicolai Tangen 20th Century Gallery.
A new large-scale painting by acclaimed artist Cecily Brown, specially commissioned for the curved wall of The Courtauld’s historic 18th Century staircase, will be unveiled when the Gallery reopens.
“The opening of The Courtauld Gallery will be one of the biggest cultural highlights of 2021 and a significant first step in the transformation of The Courtauld. We are thrilled to be welcoming the public back to enjoy one of the country’s greatest art collections in a beautifully restored setting. This transformation would not have been possible without the generosity of our donors, to whom we are immensely grateful. The redevelopment allows us to showcase the range and richness of the collection as never before, and to enable a greater number of people to enjoy close personal encounters with some of the finest works of art from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century. This will be complemented by an exciting opening programme of exhibitions, which focus on new or little-known areas of The Courtauld’s collection.”The Lord Browne of Madingley, Chairman of The Courtauld, said:
As well as the redisplayed permanent collection, The Courtauld Gallery will open with three temporary exhibitions included in the ticket price:
Modern Drawings: The Karshan Gift (Nov 21 – Jan 22) will showcase an outstanding group of modern drawings by European and American masters including Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Gerhard Richter, Louis Soutter and Cy Twombly, assembled by the late collector Howard Karshan and generously given to The Courtauld by his wife, the artist Linda Karshan.
Pen to Brush: British Drawings and Watercolours (Nov 21 – Jan 22) will show a wide range of works from The Courtauld’s remarkable collection of British drawings – from one of the earliest and smallest works in the collection, a pen and ink drawing by Isaac Oliver measuring 47 x 59 mm, to watercolours by J.M.W. Turner and John Constable, to modern works, including a shelter drawing by Henry Moore and the radical, near abstract Vorticist Composition with Figures by Helen Saunders.
Kurdistan in the 1940s (Nov 21 – May 22) will unearth some of the treasures of the Conway photographic Library including sites damaged or destroyed in recent conflict through the works of 20th Century British photographer Anthony Kersting, one of the most prolific and widely travelled architectural photographers of his generation.
Designed by Stirling Prize-winning architects Witherford Watson Mann, the redevelopment revitalises and opens up the building in Somerset House conceived by Sir William Chambers in the 1770s, restoring it to its former grandeur and creating state-of-the-art facilities. The project has been supported by £11 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and generous donations from foundations, individuals and other supporters.
The Courtauld Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN courtauld.ac.uk
The Courtauld will launch a guide on the Bloomberg Connects app, a free digital guide to cultural organisations around the world. Bloomberg Connects makes it easy to access and engage with arts and culture from mobile devices, anytime, anywhere. Features include expert commentary, video highlights, pinch-and-zoom capability and exhibition and way-finding maps which will extend access to The Courtauld Gallery for all upon reopening. The Bloomberg Connects is free via Apple Store or Google Play.
The Courtauld works to advance how we see and understand the visual arts, as an internationally-renowned centre for the teaching, research of art history and a major public gallery. Founded by collectors and philanthropists in 1932, the organisation has been at the forefront of the study of art ever since, through advanced research and conservation practice, innovative teaching and research, the renowned collection and inspiring exhibitions of its gallery, and engaging and accessible activities, education and events.
The Courtauld cares for one of the greatest art collections in the UK, sharing these works with the public at The Courtauld Gallery in central London. The Gallery is most famous for its iconic Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces, such as Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. It also showcases these alongside an internationally renowned collection of works from the Renaissance through to the present day.
Academically, The Courtauld faculty is the largest community of art historians and conservators in the UK, teaching and carrying out research on subjects from creativity in late Antiquity to contemporary digital artforms – with an increasingly global focus. An independent college of the University of London, The Courtauld offers a range of degree programmes from BA to PhD in the History of Art, curating and the conservation of easel and wall paintings. Its alumni are leaders and innovators in the arts, culture and business worlds, helping to shape the global agenda for the arts and creative industries.
Founded on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to engage with art, The Courtauld works to increase understanding of the role played by art throughout history, in all societies and across all geographies – as well as being a champion for the importance of art in the present day. This could be through exhibitions offering a chance to look closely at world-famous works; events bringing art history research to new audiences; accessible and expert short courses; innovative school, family and community programmes; or taking a formal qualification. Our ambition is to transform access to art history education, by extending the horizons of what this is, and ensuring as many people as possible can benefit.
The Courtauld’s home in historic Somerset House – London’s working arts centre – is currently closed for a major programme of renovation. Our students and academic staff are based near King’s Cross.
The Courtauld is a registered charity and relies on generous philanthropic support to achieve its mission of advancing the understanding of the visual arts of the past and present across the world, through advanced research, innovative teaching, inspiring exhibitions, programmes and collections. The collection cared for by the Courtauld Gallery is owned by the Samuel Courtauld Trust, which has been a partner in the Courtauld Connects project