Liverpool Biennial: James McNeill Whistler 

5. Jul - 26. Oct 14 / ends tomorrow The Bluecoat

Exhibition | Painting | North


View event on a map
James Abbott McNeill Whistler, The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor), 1879. Oil on canvas, 186.7 x 139.7 cm. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, gift of Mrs. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels through the Patrons of Art and Music, 1977.11

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor), 1879. Oil on canvas, 186.7 x 139.7 cm. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, gift of Mrs. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels through the Patrons of Art and Music, 1977.11



A Needle Walks into a Haystack is the Biennial?s exhibition of international art that unfolds across Liverpool?s public spaces and galleries. Curated by Mai Abu ElDahab and Anthony Huberman, it disrupts the way we assume our habits, and experience our habitats.

The Bluecoat presents a single artist, American painter James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). Through paintings, prints, drawings, sound, ephemera and key correspondences, this exhibition, the first of its kind in the UK, will explore elements of Whistler?s practice and life that position him as the ?original? contemporary artist, in a reflection of how artists operate today.

A flamboyant public figure, controversially associated with the dandies of his time, he deliberately constructed the conditions with which to present and distribute his art. He not only paved the road for abstract painting and advocated ?art for art?s sake?, but also assumed a public persona that challenged art communities, theories, critics and conventions.

As well as bold experiments in colour, subject and technique, Whistler took control of how his work was presented. He created special environments in which to display his art: from shades of paint on the walls and a patented 'Velarium' system to diffuse light in a room, to the yellow socks he asked exhibition attendants to wear. He actively engaged in debate around the value and role of art and artists, as exemplified in his 'Ten O'Clock Lecture' and numerous legal entanglements, and re-worked criticism to his own benefit, often publishing his worst reviews together with his own clever and scornful retorts.

Significantly, Whistler had many connections to Liverpool. Speke Hall was the residence of his patron, F.R. Leyland, and the exhibition includes a number of works that reference this special relationship.


Liverpool Biennial 2014: The UK Biennial of Contemporary Art

Saturday 5 July - Sunday 26 October

International art that unfolds across Liverpool?s spaces, places and galleries.

The 8th Liverpool Biennial Exhibition, A Needle Walks into a Haystack, is curated by Mai Abu ElDahab and Anthony Huberman. It takes place across the city at venues including public spaces and galleries such as the Bluecoat, FACT and Tate Liverpool. Also featured are the John Moore?s Painting Prize, Bloomberg New Contemporaries and shows at Open Eye Gallery and the Exhibition Research Centre. In addition, there will be work by artists and curators throughout the city.

For more information on the biennial programme of events please visit www.biennial.com


User opinions

Be the the first leave an opinion