'I shake you by the hand, comrade Bacon': British Art Abroad

19 Dec 2009 – 14 Mar 2010

Cost of entry

Admission free

Whitechapel Gallery

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Bus: 25, 205, 254
  • Tube: Aldgate East / Aldgate
  • Train: Liverpool Street

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This display takes its title from an entry in the visitors' book to Francis Bacon's 1988 show in Moscow, which took place just as Russia was opening to the outside world, and the Berlin Wall was about to fall. Pointing to the story of the British Council's 75-year history of showing British art abroad, the show draws materials from the organisation's archive together with original works of art by Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney, Henry Moore and Richard Wilson — and a handwritten letter from Francis Bacon. Other focuses include an exhibition of British arts and crafts that crossed the Atlantic at the height of the U-boat campaign to tour the US in 1942, and, in 2004, the first Western exhibition in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in celebration of its 25th Anniversary. Conceived by the British Council, this display tells a story of cultural relations through just some of the exhibitions organised to represent Britain during the most exciting and volatile social and political climates of the last two centuries.


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