The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation
London, Cromwell Place, 5 October – 20 December 2020.

Edited by Ugo Bozzi Editore, Orietta Benocci Adam, Gareth Bell-Jones, Francesco Gonzales and Magnus Rena.

London, 2020; paperback, pp. 212, 174 col. ill., 24 x 28 cm.

ISBN1-916464-11-4 – EA7N97819164641-2-4

Languages: English


Time {?} and Eternal Life, organised by The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation and Flat Time House, in collaboration with Bowman Sculpture, Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Lisson Gallery, Robilant + Voena and Royal Museums Turin, and exhibited in Galleries I and 11 at Cromwell Place (5 October – 20 December 2020),  tackles the imposing subject of Time  itself.

The concept of “Time” is expressed by the Tau symbol which is present in the title.  The Tau sums up several meanings related to the concept of time. In Christianity, as a symbol of the cross, it is redemptive; in physics, Tau is an elementary particle; in astronomy it is a measure of optical depth; while in the theory of relativity, it symbolizes Time itself. The exhibition aims to give voice to some concepts related to the theory of eternity and the concept of time in art.

The exhibition spans over five millennia, from Antiquity to the Modern Era, and is divided into three chapters, the first of which extends from Ancient Egypt to sixteenth-century Italy, ranging from an Old Kingdom statuary group (4th Dynasty, 2640-2520 BC) that is the exhibition’s earliest representation of art and eternal life, to a bust of Julius Caesar (Roman Imperial Age, 27 BC – AD 284) portraying a different kind of immortality altogether. The display continues this theme of palpable representations of permanence with a further collection of stone and ceramic artefacts from important collections, some of which are catalogued for the first time.

The second chapter focuses on two remarkable twentieth-century artists ; Alberto Burri (1915-1995) and John Latham (1921-2006) and their engagements with time and landscape. In 1968, an earthquake struck the Belice Valley in Sicily and left the town of Gibellina in ruins. In response, twenty years later, Alberto Burri unveiled his immense work of land art, Il Grande Cretto. He covered an entire hillside in undulating monolithic slabs of concrete, preserving the memory of the landscape in all its fragmentation. Around the same time in Scotland, John Latham was also transforming landscape into artwork. He advocated to preserve a collection of ‘bings’ ; huge industrial mounds of shale waste in rural Scotland, designating them ‘Derelict Land Art’, as a record of the passing of Time through decades of deposition.

The third chapter explores variations of the eternal which are represented in contemporary art, from the playful intricacy of Gaetano Muratore’s Time Machine : a colourful panoply of electronic and metallic devices that reflect on the myth of the time machine, to the work of Emily Young, considered “Britain’s greatest living stone sculptor”. Her huge chiselled heads bring the contemporary back to the antique.

This fully illustrated catalogue documents the exhibition with scholarly essays about Alberto Burri, the Gibellina Cretto, John Latham, the Antiquities, Leonardo da Vinci, Emily Young, and themes related to the exhibition, such as the meaning and concept of Time {? } in religion, physics, and relativity; the mystery of Immortality in the Qin Dynasty Terracotta Warriors and the concept of Eternal Life between Art and Tradition.

The catalogue is designed and edited by The Burlington Magazine and published by Ugo Bozzi Editore.


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