Magnificent Obsessions at Barbican Art Gallery

Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector is the first major exhibition in the UK to present the fascinating personal collections of post-war and contemporary artists, including Arman, Peter Blake, Hanne Darboven, Edmund de Waal, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Martin Parr, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Andy Warhol. 
 
Damien Hirst collection
Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector
 
Their collections are incredibly diverse as you might expect. They range from mass-produced memorabilia and popular collectibles to one-of-a-kind curiosities, rare artefacts, and natural history specimens. Curated by Lydia Yee, the exhibition presents a selection of objects from the collections of the artists alongside at least one key example of their work to provide insight into both their inspirations and their obsessions.
Although many of the artists are immensely well-known, their collections are mostly private and the vast majority have never been seen before in the UK. The highlights include Damien Hirst’s skulls, taxidermy and medical models and Peter Blake’s hoard of British vernacular culture. Personally, it was wonderful to see artist-potter Edmund de Waal’s collection of Japanese netsuke. And yes, for fans of de Waal’s family memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes, the eponymous hare is there in the cabinet with the rest of the collection.
 
Edmund de Waal’s Hare with Amber Eyes netsuke
 Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector
Other individual collections include: African art and samurai armour owned by Arman; the eclectic contents of two rooms from Hanne Darboven’s family home in Hamburg; exquisite Indian paintings from Howard Hodgkin; Dr. Lakra’s record covers and scrapbooks; 20th century British postcards and Soviet space dog memorabilia from Martin Parr; Jim Shaw’s thrift store paintings and Andy Warhol’s weird collection of kitsch cookie jars.
The exhibition is accompanied by a great programme of talks, events, workshops and tours running throughout the exhibition. Highlights include Edmund de Waal in conversation with art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon on 22nd April and a Butterfly Preservation Workshop on 11th April.
Barbican Art Gallery
Barbican Centre EC2
Saturday – Wednesday 10am – 6pm 
Thursday & Friday 10am – 9pm
Bank Holidays: 12noon – 6pm
Admission: £5 – £12/under 12s Free 

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