Surreal Science

Loudon Collection with Salvatore Arancio

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    Leopold (1822-95) and Rudolf (1857-1939) Blaschka, Glass model of a Portuguese man o’war, Mid to late 19th century, 14 x 8 x 8 cm. Germany. Image Courtesy George Loudon Collection, Photograph by Rosamond Purcell

Past Exhibition

This exhibition was on 25 Aug 2018 – 6 Jan 2019

Surreal Science: Loudon Collection with Salvatore Arancio

25 August 2018 – 6 January 2019

On encountering an exquisitely rendered glass jellyfish and other invertebrates by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka in the Natural History Museum at Harvard University in 1998, Dutch art collector George Loudon began an extraordinary collection of scientific objects. These 19th century teaching models and illustrations were created for handling and contemplation in the pursuit of knowledge of the natural world.

The collection now contains over 200 objects, crafted from unexpected materials including lost-wax casts, minerals, velvet, ivory and glass and extends to strikingly-illustrated books, prints, drawings and anatomical specimens from taxidermied animals to bisected human skulls and papier-mâché flowers.

Whitechapel Gallery invites Salvatore Arancio (b. 1974, Italy) to select from and respond to the collection in an exhibition that stages the objects in dialogue with the artist’s own works. Arancio is renowned for his fantastical prints and ceramics that erupt in vividly chromatic biomorphic forms. He has devised a surreal scenography filled with sound, light and his own ceramic sculptures. They are juxtaposed with scientific objects to create startling hybrids and poetic narratives including a 19th century treatise on the shape and colour of human souls. A film with a new soundtrack by The Focus Group musician Julian House takes nature documentaries as its starting point.

Inner and outer worlds are brought together in an installation that illuminates a rare collection devoted to exploring and understanding the mysteries of nature and existence through scientific enquiry.


111 - Collection of Mushrooms 20130925_4021

Big Ideas: Lynne Cooke

Sat 20 Oct, 3pm
£9.50 / £7.50 concs

Lynne Cooke, Senior Curator at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, presents a lecture exploring new developments in contemporary curatorial practice as it increasingly engages with non-canonical forms of art.

Botanical models 19, 37, 47, 55, 127 & 128 20130926_4642

Surreal Science: Tour

Thu 22 Nov, 6.30pm
Free, booking required

A guided tour by collector George Loudon through his own collection, alongside artist Salvatore Arancio.