The Museum of London strengthens its visual art collections, announcing the acquisition of three major new works by leading London-based photographer, Rut Blees Luxemburg. The acquisition was made possible with the assistance of the Art Fund and the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund.
The newly acquired photographs, ‘Aplomb – St Paul’s’, 2013, and ‘Walkie-Talkie Melted My Golden Calf’, 2013, hail from Blees Luxemburg’s series, London Dust. The photographs, along with the film, ‘London / Winterreise’, 2013, and other works from Blees Luxemburg’s series, will feature in the new exhibition, London Dust, opening at the Museum of London on 1 May 2015.
London Dust responds to the redevelopment of the City of London and the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis. As property prices rise, and the pressure to maximise space increases, London’s financial district has seen ever more fanciful towers appear in the skyline.
Blees Luxemburg’s images contrast the idealised, architectural computer-generated visions of London that clad City building sites, with the gritty, unpolished reality surrounding these. In particular, they focus on the hoardings surrounding The Pinnacle – a proposed 64-floor skyscraper that rose no higher than seven-storeys before lack of funding brought the work to an unexpected halt. Blees Luxemburg’s photographs encourage viewers to consider differing perceptions of London through nuanced details, light and innovative compositions.
The six minute film ‘London / Winterreise’, 2013, set to a soundtrack that re-interpretes Schubert’s song cycle, Die Winterreise, journeys from Shoreditch, to the City; passes the Occupy camp in Finsbury Square and the Bank of England and captures mid-construction building sites and finally London Wall – current home of the Museum of London. As with the photographs, the film offers a commentary on historical London, the climate surrounding the financial crisis and the city’s architectural transformation.
Rut Blees Luxemburg, said: “The position of the Museum of London, at the centre of the City, its vicinity to the ancient remnants of London Wall and its proximity to the burgeoning new London, is compelling. I am thrilled that my work on contemporary London is part of the museum’s collection and will be given a platform so close to the locations that have such a hold on me.”
Francis Marshall, Senior Curator of Paintings, Pictures and Drawings at Museum of London, said: “Rut Blees Luxemburg is one of the most fascinating photographers working in London today. Her images question the city and the urban environment in ways which prompt fresh thinking about London. We have long wanted to add Rut’s work to the collection. Her philosophical and conceptual approach to photography is indicative of our ambitious plans to expand our art collections.”
Blees Luxemburg’s work joins a collection of over 150,000 photographs comprising a visual history of London from the birth of the medium in the mid-19th century, right up to today.
The acquisition of these three works fulfils two of the museum’s priorities for art collecting: collecting contemporary work using lens-based media, and showcasing work made by critically acclaimed female artists.
The announcement follows the 2014 acquisition of the remaining archive of Christina Broom – the UK’s first female press photographer. Opening on 19 June 2015, the Museum of London Docklands will stage the first ever retrospective of this significant photographer, entitled Soldiers and Suffragettes: The Photography of Christina Broom.