From the Director

February 2022

Dear Friends:

It is wonderful to anticipate welcoming visitors back to the museum on March 3 when the Yale Center for British Art presents its first major exhibition in two years, a survey of works by Bridget Riley. Born in London in 1931, Riley is among the most influential painters in Britain and the world. Bridget Riley: Perceptual Abstraction encompasses two floors of the museum and presents more than fifty paintings and works on paper that the artist selected in collaboration with the YCBA. It has been a privilege to develop this exhibition with Riley and to see her paintings and drawings through her eyes. This is truly her show, and I hope that you will have the chance to experience it.

Visitors will also encounter a magnificent painting by Cecily Brown, newly acquired through the generosity of an anonymous gift. Inspired by the historic collections of Blenheim Palace, a three-hundred-year-old country estate in Oxfordshire, England, The Hound with the Horses’ Hooves (2019) offers a timely reinterpretation of the historical genres of landscape, sporting art, and animal painting. I hope that you are as excited as I am to see this dynamic work displayed in our Library Court, where it serves as a thought-provoking foil to the surrounding eighteenth-century hunting scenes.

Together with the Yale University Art Gallery, we have co-acquired Portrait of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite (2017) by Kehinde Wiley, who graduated from the Yale School of Art in 2001. This is the first time that the two museums have jointly purchased an artwork. Many of you may be familiar with the monumental portrait, which had been on loan to the YCBA since 2019, when it was installed in our fourth-floor galleries on the occasion of an exhibition of Yiadom-Boakye’s work curated by writer Hilton Als. Beginning this spring, it will be on view across the street at the Gallery, where it will feature in an installation of recent acquisitions.

Our partnership with Gateway Community College continues with the second annual Gateway to British Art Prize, established to encourage students’ interests in looking at, and writing about, art in a thoughtful, persuasive way. I encourage you to read the winning essays, which offer rich interpretations and deeply personal perspectives on familiar works from our collections.

Even as we look ahead to reopening our galleries and spaces more fully, we remain dedicated to presenting a robust schedule of online programs to reach a broader audience. Since its inception in August 2020, our at home: Artists in Conversation series has continued to great success. Thousands of viewers have tuned in from all continents to hear Njideka Akunyili Crosby (Yale MFA 2011), Hurvin Anderson, Michael Craig-Martin (Yale BA 1963, MFA 1966), Peter Doig, Rachel Whiteread, Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, and others discuss their work. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the artists Sonia Boyce and Simone Leigh and am eager to see their commissions for the British and American Pavilions at the upcoming fifty-ninth Venice Biennale in April. Other programs planned for this semester include talks with Sutapa Biswas, Tracey Emin, Billy Gerard Frank, Rachel Jones, Annabelle Selldorf, and Sue Williamson.

The first online iteration of the Paul Mellon Lectures, presented in collaboration with our colleagues at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London, concluded earlier this month. Established in 1994 by the two institutions in honor of our shared founder, these biennial lectures were traditionally delivered in person, in both London and New Haven, by a specialist in British art. This online series, The Museum and Gallery Today, featured talks from six of the world’s most distinguished museum and gallery directors. Recordings of all our online programs are available for viewing on our website.

As always, my colleagues and I are grateful for your commitment to the museum and we look forward to having you join us often to engage with our collections, both in the galleries and online.

Sincerely,

 

Courtney J. Martin

Paul Mellon Director

 

Courtney J. Martin, photo by Mara Lavitt