'Devil' by James Grant
'Rank' is a new exhibition of art and cartoons depicting the shaping of our society since the 16th Century.
"Rank" is the first ever exhibition to examine how artists have represented the shape of their society from the Renaissance to the present. It brings together nearly 100 contributors including masterpieces from six centuries and some little-seen works. It puts cutting-edge contemporary work alongside new research from academic experts, press and public agencies.
Masterpieces are on loan from the Tate, The British Library, British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Arts Council Collection, Working Class Movement Library, Saatchi Gallery and the Frank Cohen Collection.
In addition there will be new works by leading contemporary artists including Mark Titchner, Rory Macbeth, Evan Holloway, Dexter Dalwood, Nina Beier and Marie Lund and AOC Architecture.
Image from Thomas More's 'Utopia'
Individual highlights include Thomas More's vision of communist society in the 1516 first edition of "Utopia", Thomas Hobbes' original prints for "Leviathan", as well as more modern work such as Alasdair Gray's original drawing for his 1982 novel, "Lanark".
The exhibition aims to pose some searching questions about the shape of our society and how we picture our place within it. Society without stratification is, almost unimaginable, but how do we picture our own system of hierarchies, of difference?
British writers, political theorists and artists have used numerous images to picture who we are, describing us through terms such as 'orders', 'estates', 'classes', 'stations', 'degrees', or 'ranks'. But only this latter term has kept the same meaning over six centuries.
"Rank" brings together works by some of the greatest names in British art who have created wondrous and monstrous images of their societies: Hogarth, Gillray, Cruikshank, WP Frith, Eric Gill. Alongside are contemporary masters including Gerhard Richter and Jenny Holzer and new works from artists including Mark Titchner and Ruth Ewan. The exhibition enables us to see how we have described ourselves over a long timescale, by contrasting political images, from Thomas Hobbes to the International Workers of the World, with factual data about where each of us sits in national and global economic hierarchies.
"Rank: picturing the social order 1516–2009" runs at Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow from Saturday 14 February until Sunday 26 April 2009
last updated: 13/01/2009 at 16:23