Monochrome: Painting in Black and White

30 October 2017 – 18 February 2018

Sainsbury Wing

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Journey through a world of shadow and light at the National Gallery this autumn 

With more than 50 works painted on glass, vellum, ceramic, silk, wood, and canvas, ‘Monochrome’ explores the tradition of painting in black and white over 700 years, from its beginnings in the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and into the 21st century.

Paintings by Old Masters such as van Eyck, Dürer, Rembrandt, and Ingres appear alongside works by some of the most exciting contemporary artists working today, including Gerhard Richter, Chuck Close, and Bridget Riley. Olafur Eliasson’s immersive light installation ‘Room for one colour’ (1997) brings a suitably mind-altering coda to the exhibition.

With major loans from around the world, and works from the National Gallery Collection, ‘Monochrome’ is a radical new look at what happens when artists cast aside the colour spectrum and focus on the visual power of black, white, and everything in between.

Olafur Eliasson, 'Room for one colour', 1997. Installation view at Moderna Museet, Stockholm 2015. Courtesy of the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; neugerriemschneider, Berlin © Olafur Eliasson. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
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Olafur Eliasson, 'Room for one colour', 1997. Installation view at Moderna Museet, Stockholm 2015. Courtesy of the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; neugerriemschneider, Berlin
© Olafur Eliasson. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

Gerhard Richter, 'Helga Matura with her Fiancé', 1966. Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf © Gerhard Richter 2017 (0182). Photo: Museum Kunstpalast - ARTOTHEK
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Gerhard Richter, 'Helga Matura with her Fiancé', 1966. Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf
© Gerhard Richter 2017 (0182). Photo: Museum Kunstpalast - ARTOTHEK

Marlene Dumas, 'The Image as Burden', 1993 Private Collection, Belgium © Marlene Dumas. Photo: Peter Cox
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Marlene Dumas, 'The Image as Burden', 1993. Private Collection, Belgium
© Marlene Dumas. Photo: Peter Cox

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and workshop, 'Odalisque in Grisaille', about 1824-34 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1938, 38.65 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource / Scala, Florence
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Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and workshop, 'Odalisque in Grisaille', about 1824–34
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource / Scala, Florence

Gustave Le Gray, 'The Great Wave, Sète', about 1857 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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Gustave Le Gray, 'The Great Wave, Sète', about 1857
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Etienne Moulinneuf after Jean-Siméon Chardin, 'Back from the Market (La Pourvoyeuse)', about 1770  © Museum Associates / LACMA
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Etienne Moulinneuf after Jean-Siméon Chardin, 'Back from the Market (La Pourvoyeuse)', about 1770
© Museum Associates / LACMA

Jacob de Wit, 'Jupiter and Ganymede', 1739 © Ferens Art Gallery, Hull Museums
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Jacob de Wit, 'Jupiter and Ganymede', 1739
© Ferens Art Gallery, Hull Museums

Albrecht Dürer, 'Head of a Woman', 1520. The British Museum, London © The Trustees of The British Museum
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Albrecht Dürer, 'Head of a Woman', 1520. The British Museum, London
© The Trustees of The British Museum

'Stained Glass Panel with Quarries and a Female Head', about 1320-4 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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'Stained Glass Panel with Quarries and a Female Head', about 1320–4
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Olafur Eliasson, 'Room for one colour', 1997. Installation view at Moderna Museet, Stockholm 2015. Courtesy of the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; neugerriemschneider, Berlin © Olafur Eliasson. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
Gerhard Richter, 'Helga Matura with her Fiancé', 1966. Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf © Gerhard Richter 2017 (0182). Photo: Museum Kunstpalast - ARTOTHEK
Marlene Dumas, 'The Image as Burden', 1993 Private Collection, Belgium © Marlene Dumas. Photo: Peter Cox
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and workshop, 'Odalisque in Grisaille', about 1824-34 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1938, 38.65 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource / Scala, Florence
Gustave Le Gray, 'The Great Wave, Sète', about 1857 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Etienne Moulinneuf after Jean-Siméon Chardin, 'Back from the Market (La Pourvoyeuse)', about 1770  © Museum Associates / LACMA
Jacob de Wit, 'Jupiter and Ganymede', 1739 © Ferens Art Gallery, Hull Museums
Albrecht Dürer, 'Head of a Woman', 1520. The British Museum, London © The Trustees of The British Museum
'Stained Glass Panel with Quarries and a Female Head', about 1320-4 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Exhibition organised by the National Gallery in collaboration with Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf.

Exhibition generously supported by
Howard and Roberta Ahmanson
 
With additional support from
The Daniel Katz Gallery, London
The Vaseppi Trust
David Zwirner, London and New York

Exhibition Logistics Partner

Image above: Detail from Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and workshop, 'Odalisque in Grisaille', about 1824–34 ©  The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource / Scala, Florence