history: the mag collection image-based art in the late 20th century

29.01.98 – 07.03.98

The Fruitmarket Gallery was the first UK venue for touring exhibition History: The Mag Collection, Image Based Art in the Twentieth Century, organised in association with Ferens Art Gallery, Hull. Composed of a selection of British art from the last two decades of the twentieth century, it featured over 200 works by 101 artists from Paul Wilson’s private collection. The collection was assembled in the six previous years prior to the exhibition, with the focus on acquiring a mix of works under the category of ‘image-based’ or photographic work. Wilson’s interest in this kind of art, in his own words, ‘stems from the fact that although photography has been around for about 160 years, it’s only relatively recent that there’s been a proliferation of media related to the use of the photograph. In many ways, it’s the perfect bridge between traditional and new media’ [Fruitmarket Gallery exhibition bulletin, 1998]

The idea behind this exhibition was the question of what it means to collect art, and what kind of experience it is. Wilson invited the public to reflect on the relationship between artist, collector, gallery, and public. In this case, his collection emphasised diversity over curatorial uniformity, and supported artists from all over Britain of different ages and backgrounds, working in a wide range of styles and media. There was a 75% predominance of women artists as they have been historically underrepresented; a 50/50 split between the known artist and less known ones; and a geographical expansion of choice which challenged the common London-based bias.

During the exhibition period, the Fruitmarket hosted a series of artists’ talks every Saturday with the participation of David Williams, Catriona Grant, Calum Colvin, and Jane Brettle. Additionally, there were film screening events of some of the artists’ video pieces that aimed to compare artists’ video work from London, Glasgow, and New York, like that of Sam Taylor-Wood, Smith/Stewart, and Douglas Gordon.

Artists: Keith Arnatt, Zarina Bhimji, John Blakemore, Jane Brettle, David Buckland, Angela Bulloch, Claire Carter, Helen Chadwick, Shirley Chubb, Rachel Cohen, Hannah Collins, Calum Colvin, Cynthia Cousins, Geraint Cunnick, Judith Dean, Tacita Dean, Cathy de Monchaux, Tracey Emin, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Harriet Fuller, Hamish Fulton, Pamela Golden, Andy Goldsworthy, Catriona Grant, Susie Gray, Jun Hasegawa, Mona Hatoum, Lucy Heyward, Susan Hiller, Lubaina Himid, David Hiscock, Jo Holland, Shirazeh Houshiary, Carol Hudson, Sarah Jones, Karen Knorr, Chara Lewis, Katrina Lithgow, Richard Long, Rachel Lowe, David Mach, Calum Angus MacKay, Patricia MacKinnon-Day, Mari Mahr, Bruce McLean, Wendy McMurdo, Chris Nash, Therese Oulton, Cornelia Parker, Michael Porter, Olivier Richon, Liz Rideal, Carol Robertson, Caryn Simonson, Maud Sulter, Sam Taylor-Wood, Estelle Thompson, Padraig Timoney, Gillian Wearing, Boyd Webb, Kate Whiteford, Jane Wilbraham, David Williams, Colin Wilson, Jane and Louise Wilson, Richard Wilson, Hermione Wiltshire, Richard Woods, and Verdi Yahooda.

Marieta Guzman – Fruitmarket Archive Intern, Goldsmiths, University of London, 2022


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