BP Portrait Award and The Queen – Art and Image

Posted on: 13 July 2012 by Anthony Page

Two exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery that are well worth a visit over the summer.

Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh, Windsor Castle 2011by Thomas Struth I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing recommending exhibitions for you to visit in London while the Olympics are on. Yesterday, I had to travel on four modes of London transport (I chickened out on Boris’ bicycles!) namely: bus, underground, car and foot!

If this is what London is like in mid-July with two weeks to go to the opening of the Olympics it is going to be hell for the six weeks they are on! I have never seen such crowds and traffic jams in forty years of living in London. We seem to have more Italians than Italy! 

Still if you are in London make the time to visit the National Portrait Gallery (part of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square) where there are two small but excellent exhibitions, both running through the summer. (Ed: Summer -what’s that?  Surely you mean somewhere to hide from the rain!)

Auntie by Aleah Chaplin

BP Portrait Award 2012

The first is the BP Portrait Award – held annually this year’s show is quite astounding in both its breadth and style. The winner is an American artist called Aleah Chapin who has created a stunning nude portrait of a family friend simply called ‘Auntie’. The sitter is well into her sixties and the artist has cruelly but exquisitely defined her age and passing of time on her body until it has a beauty of its own. I spend more than twenty minutes studying this work from a distance and so close, my nose was nearly touching the canvas. 

Another picture named ‘Tom’ is so amazingly detailed that I had to do a double take just to make sure it wasn’t a photograph – the quality and detail are truly amazing. In total there are about sixty canvases so if you do them all justice you’ll be in this gallery for a couple of hours – I was!

The BP Portrait Award 2012
Runs until the 23rd September from 10am to 6pm – entry is free.





Equanimity by Chris Levine (artist) and Rob Munday (holographer) 2012

The Queen Art and Image

‘The Queen – Art and Image’ is in the next gallery alongside the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery and runs until the 21st October. Entrance is £6.60 with Gift Aid and £6 without.

For someone who has lived though her reign it’s a fascinating collection covering her sixty years on the throne. Every major event is captured from the returning to the UK as Queen after the death of her father, the coronation, world tours, marriages and grandchildren are all there. As well as painted portraits there is a wide selection of photographic studies, including Equanimity by Chris Levine (artist) and Rob Munday (holographer) 2012 (left).

Featured photographers and artists include Cecil Beaton, Pietro Annigoni, Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Lucian Freud, Thomas Struth and Gerhard Richter.

If you have the time and the entry fee go and enjoy the amazing collection of the worlds’ most painted and photographed person in history.

The Queen: Art and Image
Until 21 October 2012


For more information visit National Portrait Gallery.

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