Gagosian’s white walls are the last place where you would expect to see an actual Rembrandt, but if you find yourself at Gagosian Grosvenor Hill between April 12 and May 18, you just might.
Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-portrait with Two Circles (1665) is on display at Gagosian thanks to a partnership with an organization that manages many of the UK’s most historic properties. When the self-portrait isn’t touring the world, it typically hangs at Kenwood House in Hampstead, London, a state-run home donated to the British government by a member of the Guinness family. It has recently been a star loan at exhibitions in US museums in Houston, Seattle, Arkansas, as well as at London’s National gallery and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Its latest appearance however is among a commercial exhibition titled “Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now,” where it’s shown alongside contemporary works from Gagosian’s roster. Smaller self-portraits by Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe are hung next to the masterpiece. Jeff Koons’s copy of another Rembrandt self-portrait, complete with the signature gazing ball, even made the cut, being displayed at a respectable distance. A new work by Jenny Saville is also shown, which was directly inspired by the Rembrandt painting.
The exhibition continues with Gagosian’s star-studded artist roster like Basquiat, Baselitz, Richter, Picasso, Dora Maar, Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman.
Not everyone has been a fan of the unlikely association, however. When the loan was announced, art critic Roberta Smith sent out a tweet calling it “obscene”. The exhibition got a mere three stars from the Guardian’s Adrian Searle. Searle was quick to point out the redundancy of some of the other works in presence. “With his tawdry, threadbare magnificence, Rembrandt upstages everyone, and there’s quite a crowd.” Searle wrote.
While no future plans were announced between Gagosian and English Heritage, the organization behind the loan, a statement from the gallery hints that it will involve them in “a number of curatorial and fundraising initiatives.”
English Heritage looks after a stellar art collection that includes more works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Gainsborough, Singer-Sargent and many more masters. When asked about potential future repeat collaborations, English Heritage’s Curatorial Director Anna Eavis said: “There are all sorts of things one could do. The earl collected 18th-century paintings of gorgeous women, including a wondeful painting by Singer-Sargent of an American heiress, and the collection includes work by Joshua Reynolds, George Romney, and Thomas Gainsborough.”
“Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now” is on view April 12 through May 18 at Gagosian, 20 Grosvenor Hill, London.