Art treasures spanning 110 years and worth up to £20m brought together for Edinburgh exhibition

Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte and Damien Hirst are being showcased alongside Scottish artists Jenny Saville, Ciara Phillips, Graham Fagen, Alberta Whittle and Barbara Rae in a major new exhibition of work worth up to £20 million.

Rachel Ashenden of National Galleries Scotland views Steven Campbell’s painting Portrait of Rorschach Testing Himself and Finding Himself Guilty. Picture: Neil Hanna
Rachel Ashenden of National Galleries Scotland views Steven Campbell’s painting Portrait of Rorschach Testing Himself and Finding Himself Guilty. Picture: Neil Hanna

More than 100 works recently secured for the national art collection have been brought together to transform the entire ground floor of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.

Paintings, drawings, sculptures, film work and sound installations spanning 110 years will be on display until the spring of 2023 in the free exhibition.

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All of the work in the show, New Arrivals, which opens to the public from Saturday, has been acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland over the last five years, thanks to gifts, bequests and grants.

Glasgow artist France-Lise McGurn's work Bachelorette features in the exhibition.
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Highlights of the exhibition include a rare life-size bronze sculpture by Damien Hirst, Salvador Dalí’s Surrealist “Lobster Telephone,” Dorothea Tanning’s Primitive Seating, a re-upholstered chair with a cat-like tail, a series of monumental heads by sculptor Elisabeth Frink and The Horse Rider, the first work by the Russian-French artist Marc Chagall to enter Scotland’s national collection.

The exhibition offers the chance to experience work created by some of Scotland’s leading contemporary artists.

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Among the pieces on display are prints by Turner Prize nominee Ciara Phillips, woodcuts by Alberta Whittle, who will represent Scotland at next year’s Venice Biennale, a painting by “Glasgow Four” artist Frances Macdonald MacNair exploring female sexuality and a painting by James Morrison, whose work in the north-east of Scotland inspired a recent award-winning documentary film.

Sound and film installations include Graham Fagen’s The Slave’s Lament, which is inspired by the Robert Burns poem of the same name, and Hanna Tuulikki’s Sing-Sign, which responds to the history and geography of the narrow closes off the Royal Mile.

Rachel Ashenden of National Galleries Scotland views Dorothea Tanning's work Primitive Seating. Picture: Neil Hanna

Jenny Saville, Frances Walker, John Bellany, France-Lise McGurn, Barbara Rae and Steven Campbell are among the other Scottish artists featured in the exhibition.

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Patrick Elliott, lead curator of the exhibition, said: “We have government funding of around £200,000 a year for acquisitions across the collection, but that allows us to go to other funds and grant giving bodies with seed funding.

“However many of the works in the exhibition have been gifts, some of which we have been working on for 20 years, while others have come from collectors we have had no previous relationship with.

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“We hardly ever buy works at auction. A lot of our time is really spent cultivating and getting to know dealers and collectors. At the end of it their favourite ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ will end up in a collection where everyone else can see it, which really appeals to a lot of people.”

Salvador Dali's 'Lobster Telephone.'

Simon Groom, director of modern and contemporary art at the National Galleries, said:

“Acquisitions breathe new life into our collections.

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“They allow us to reflect the latest developments in Scotland and beyond, reinforcing the strength of our existing collections and research.

"Thanks to gifts, bequests and support from charitable funds and private donors, the national collection continues to grow in exciting new directions.

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Rachel Ashenden of National Galleries Scotland views a work by the English sculptor and painter Elisabeth Frink. Picture: Neil Hanna

"We are very pleased to be able to share these works with our visitors and encourage everyone to come and be inspired in the discovery of our new arrivals.”

James Morrison's oil painting For a Lady Remembered.
Barbara Rae's work Light at Jacobshavn.

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