The Whitworth Opening Programme

The Whitworth reopens its doors on 14 February 2015 as an extended gallery in a park, with new exhibition spaces and greatly enhanced visitor facilities that redefine its role for the 21st century.

By Lee Isherwood | 23 January 2015

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The Whitworth reopens its doors on 14 February 2015 as an extended gallery in a park, with new exhibition spaces and greatly enhanced visitor facilities that redefine its role for the 21st century. The new Whitworth physically and visually reconnects the gallery with its surrounding park. The extended display areas reach into the landscape, with new and recently acquired sculpture on display in the gallery grounds and in a new art garden and orchard designed by painterly garden designer Sarah Price.


The programme opens with a major solo exhibition from one of Britain’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Cornelia Parker, and a spectacular installation by leading Chinese-born artist, Cai Guo-Qiang. It also brings together highlights from the Whitworth’s eclectic collection of historical and contemporary fine art, textiles and wallpaper that reflect the gallery’s personality today and illuminate key moments in its history.


Cornelia Parker
14 February – 31 May 2015

The Whitworth programme will open with a major solo exhibition from one of Britain’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Cornelia Parker whose work invites viewers to witness the transformation of ordinary objects into compelling and extraordinary art. This extensive presentation will feature a wide range of work made during Parker’s career, including her signature piece Cold Dark Matter; An Exploded View, (1991) alongside an important new commission and recent additions to her ongoing series of Bullet, Poison and Antidote, and Explosion Drawings.

Cai Guo-Qiang
14 February – 21 June 2015

Cai Guo-Qiang is a leading Chinese-born contemporary artist, known for his remarkable projects using gunpowder, including the firework displays for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. His installation Unmanned Nature (2008), a forty-five metre long, four metre high gunpowder drawing, will be the first artwork shown in the Whitworth’s new Landscape Gallery. This will also be the first showing of the installation anywhere in the world outside the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Unmanned Nature was commissioned by the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art in 2008, and it was shown in an exhibition marking his designation as the recipient of the Seventh Hiroshima Art Prize. The prize is awarded every three years to an artist who has made the greatest contribution to peace in the field of art.

New Acquisitions: The Karpidas Foundation gift in memory of Constantine Karpidas
14 February – 16 August 2015

This exhibition will celebrate the recent major gift by The Karpidas Foundation of 90 contemporary works of art to the Whitworth. These works enrich the gallery’s collection of contemporary art significantly and show the range and depth of the Foundation’s engagement with current artistic practice. The exhibition will highlight the work of the now wellestablished YBAs and other artists who first came to prominence in the 1990s and 2000s, alongside later artists. It will include pieces by Richard Patterson, Paul Noble, Dorothy Cross, Anna Barriball, Laure Prouvost and Richard Forster, In addition, photography will feature strongly in the exhibition, with works by Gillian Wearing, Wolfgang Tillmans, Liz Deschenes, Luke Fowler, Lisa Oppenheim and Josh Brand. A further group of paintings presented by The Karpidas Foundation will be displayed overlooking Whitworth Park. These will include works by major British artists Michael Craig-Martin, Dexter Dalwood, Keith Coventry and Gary Hume alongside recent paintings by young New York-based artists Matt Connors and Richard Aldrich. Several sculptures that form part of the gift will be permanently installed in the Whitworth grounds and park, with works by Nathan Coley, Christine Borland, Simon Periton, Emily Young, Nate Lowman and Nico Vascellari.

14 February – 22 November 2015

A show about the lives and the relationships between the artists, collectors and curators who made the Whitworth. Collections are created by people: the people who acquired and then presented collections to the institution; the curators and others who select and assemble works for public viewing; and, not the least, the people who feature in the works themselves. This exhibition space will be animated by some of these people and explore the relationships between them, from Francis Bacon’s portrait of his friend Lucian Freud to a self- portrait of Adolf Wölfli made in a mental asylum near Berne, and Sir Stanley Spencer’s drawing of Margaret Pilkington, honorary director of the Whitworth for over 20 years and the first female director of a major UK gallery. Other works include recent acquisitions by contemporary artists Mary Kelly and Cecily Brown, as well as key works from the Musgrave Kinley Outsider Collection, held at the Whitworth.

Johnnie Shand Kydd
14 February – 21 February 2016

As an emerging photographer, Shand Kydd became known for capturing the incipient community of YBAs (Young British Artists) during the 1990s. He created hundreds of now iconic black and white images of his artist friends and has continued to track the progress of figures such as Sarah Lucas, Tracey Emin, Gilbert and George and Damien Hirst. This selection of works from Shand Kydd’s extensive and varied portfolio focuses on his yearly trips to the Greek island of Hydra at the invitation of the art collector and Whitworth patron, Pauline Karpidas. With an informal, convivial and occasionally poignant eye, Shand Kydd captures the annual summer confluence of invited members of the international art world, a coming together of rising talent, established luminaries, partners and family members. Shand Kydd’s photographs will be displayed in the promenade gallery, a space created to allow visitors to move around the new building and which provides views into the park across the newly created Art Garden.

14 February – 31 May 2015

The Whitworth is home to an internationally renowned collection of British watercolours. The greatest benefactor to this collection was John Edward Taylor, who presented and bequeathed 266 watercolours and drawings of the highest quality to the gallery between 1892 and 1912. John Edward Taylor was the owner of the Manchester Guardian (now The Guardian), and his gifts to the Whitworth epitomize how money from industrial and commercial ventures was transformed into cultural wealth, a vital force in both the history of the Whitworth and the city of Manchester. Highlights from Taylor’s collection will be on display, including works by three of the best exponents of watercolour: 22 works by J. M. W. Turner, seven by William Blake and four by John Robert Cozens.