Think of the birth of Impressionism as an example. When artists took their work outside and painted en plein air, they saw the world with new eyes, and so changed the trajectory of painting in the process. For figurative and realist painters, a light source is essential to the success of an image.
A major show now at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) is the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition Light: Works from Tate’s Collection, which explores the phenomenon of light spanning 200 years of art history.
There are few collections as superb as the Tate’s in the UK and this show has it all – some 70 works harnessing light as both material and subject. These include work by the extraordinary painter, JMW Turner (namely his seminal painting The Deluge, seen here for the first time in Australia) to Impressionists Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley through to contemporary artists such as James Turrell, Yayoi Kusama and Olafur Eliasson, whose work asks the big questions about nature and our connection to the environment. There’s work, too, by John Constable alongside that of neon artist Dan Flavin.
This exhibition shines a light (pardon the pun) on the close relationship between art and science – artists have always been inventors, explorers, and innovators, curious about the world around them. Turner painted in a studio; he had to witness the light on the ocean, commit it to memory and then realize it on canvas. It makes his works all the more outstanding.
You may be wondering why a center for the moving image and film would host this show, but if you consider the importance of light to filmmaking, you can see the connection. To that end, don’t miss ACMI’s centerpiece exhibition The Story of the Moving Image, which examines the essential contribution of light to the moving image, and places film in a broader art historical context.
There’s a raft of accompanying public programs for this show, so head online for all the details.
Light: Works from Tate’s Collection is now open at ACMI, at Fed Square, until November 13. Tickets are on sale now for the exhibition and the events program.
This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com