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Antony Gormley in Face Value: Portraits from the Arts Council Collection

Face Value brings together more than 45 original works by some of the country’s most celebrated twentieth-century and contemporary artists, including David Hockney, Barbara Hepworth, Lucian Freud, L.S. Lowry and Chris Ofili.

Designed to appeal to people-watchers and art lovers alike, Face Value focuses on the varied styles and techniques artists employ to depict the human form. The exhibition features works by 34 different artists working in a variety of media from drawing and painting to collage, sculpture, photography and film.

Face Value documents an age-long obsession with portraiture and asks us to consider how and why images of people have continued to fascinate artists and viewers throughout time. We learn how portraiture is rarely about simply capturing a likeness; portraits are also about place, popular culture and politics. The exhibition includes traditional seated portraits alongside more casual scenes of people at work and at leisure – in the barbers, at the beach or heading off to the pub. It’s not often that we have the opportunity of getting so close to another human being, of studying facial expression and glimpsing into what it means to be human.

The display spans over a hundred years, from Walter Sickert’s 1906 ‘Head of a Woman’ to Claudette Johnson’s 2018 portrayal of the form, figure and strength of Black womanhood in ‘Figure in Blue’. Further highlights from the exhibition include: David Hockney’s ‘Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices,’ ‘Study for ‘Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy’’ and ‘We Two Boys Together Clinging; works by three Turner Prize winners – Chris Ofili, Antony Gormley and Howard Hodgkin – as well as other Turner prize nominees. The show also features original drawings by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.

Face Value has been made possible through loans secured from the Arts Council Collection, the world’s largest loan collection of modern and contemporary British art.