The tumultuous life and times of a revolutionary 20th century female artist will be explored in a fascinating new exhibition at the Leeds Art Gallery.
Eileen Agar: Angel of Anarchy brings together over 150 paintings, drawings, collages, objects and photographs exploring the development of the kaleidoscopic practice of Agar.
Developed in partnership with the Whitechapel Gallery in London, the exhibition is the largest of Hagar’s works to date and features several works never before shown to the public.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1899 to a Scottish industrialist father and an American biscuit heiress mother, Agar was a rebellious child.
With her mother frustrated by her growing interest in art, at the age of just six Hagar was sent to a boarding school in England which remained her adopted homeland for the rest of her life.
After receiving training in traditional art in London, in 1929, Agar traveled to Paris where she learned the principles of Cubism and Surrealism and witnessed the artistic revolution of the time.
Struggling to continue making art at the start of World War II, Hagar spent much of that time working for the war effort, but after the conflict ended he began to focus on more optimistic topics.
Although she exhibited less internationally after the war, there was a huge revival of interest in her work in the 1970s. Agar worked prolifically until her death in 1991.
Helen Little, Curator of Exhibitions at Leeds Art Gallery, said: “Eileen Agar has had a fascinating life, and this exhibition draws attention to how her 70-year career coincided with a period of enormous social change. . Agar had an incredible ability to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary and worked independently of established art movements to create work that speaks volumes about who she is as an artist and as a woman.
“Agar has often subverted traditional ideas of the artistic muse, creating images that envision a world where gender boundaries are fluid and structures of patriarchy less rigidly enforced. It’s an exciting time to reflect on Hagar’s important role in modern art and her important legacy today.
The significant influence of Cubism and Surrealism on Hagar’s practice can be seen in several masterpieces which were first seen at the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London, where Hagar was one of the few women to be included.
At the heart of the exhibition are two important works by Hagar from the collection of the Leeds Art Gallery; Precious stones1936 and Self-portrait by lamp circa 1930 which reveal how, in the late 1930s, she was inspired by the human body and the natural world, working with found objects including shells, bones, plants, marine detritus, textiles and feathers to create sculptures and collages.
Councilor Jonathan Pryor, Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council and Executive Member for the Economy, said: ‘Leeds Art Gallery has developed an outstanding reputation for showcasing the work of so many influential artists and internationally renowned who have left a lasting impact.
“It’s inspiring to see this continue and for the gallery to once again explore the fascinating stories behind these remarkable works of art.”
The Leeds Art Gallery is the third and final venue for this international touring exhibition.
For more details visit: https://museumsandgalleries.leeds.gov.uk/events/leeds-art-gallery/eileen-agar-angel-of-anarchy
Notes to Editor:
The exhibition is FREE entry
About Leeds Art Gallery artgallery.leeds.gov.uk
Founded in 1888, the Leeds Art Gallery has strong collections of 19th and 20th century British paintings and sculpture, widely regarded as one of the best outside the national collections. With half a million visitors each year, it is one of the city’s most visited attractions and all exhibits are free.
Alongside the extensive collection of paintings and sculpture, the gallery presents a dynamic program of temporary exhibitions which has featured exhibitions such as British Art Show 8 and exhibitions by famous artists such as Damien Hirst and Gary Hume. The gallery continues to acquire works for the permanent collection; recent acquisitions include works by Alison Wilding, Simon Fujiwara and Becky Beasley.
The 20th century is represented by artists such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Paul Nash and Jacob Epstein, as well as contemporary artists such as Frank Auerbach, Bridget Riley, Tony Cragg and Mark Wallinger. The extensive sculpture collection, the most comprehensive of any regional collection, includes an extensive and unique archive; both are run in partnership with the Henry Moore Institute.
About Whitechapel Gallery
For over a century, the Whitechapel Gallery has featured world-class artists ranging from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Frida Kahlo and Hannah Höch to contemporaries such as Zarina Bhimji, Sophie Calle, William Kentridge, Eduardo Paolozzi and Michael Rakowitz. . Its historic campus is home to exhibitions, artist commissions, collection displays, historical archives, educational resources, inspiring art classes, lectures and film screenings, the Townsend Dining Hall and the Koenig Bookstore. . It is a touchstone for international contemporary art, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is essential to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art district.