Dollhouse-Sized Exhibition Will Showcase Mini Creations by Art-World Giants | Smart News

The world tends to feel a lot smaller when individuals are confined largely to their…

The world tends to feel a lot smaller when individuals are confined largely to their homes, as many have been during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, reports Vanessa Thorpe for the Observer, an out-of-the-box exhibition featuring works by more than 30 prominent British artists is set to capture this feeling in fittingly unique fashion.

Staged in a less than five-foot-long display case, “Masterpieces in Miniature: The 2021 Model Art Gallery” will debut at the Pallant House Gallery in West Sussex, England, on June 26. The show includes more than 80 original, pint-sized creations by such artists as Damien Hirst, Tacita Dean, Edmund de Waal, Grayson Perry, John Akomfrah, Lubaina Himid and Rachel Whiteread.

“The model gallery”—specially designed by Wright & Wright Architects—“will function as a kind of time capsule,” gallery director Simon Martin tells the Observer. “Somehow with these small pieces you get the essence of an artist’s practice.”

Per a statement, the artworks slated to go on view range in size from the diameter of a one-pound coin (roughly the same as an American quarter) to just under eight inches. The exhibition will spotlight pieces in different media, including sculpture, painting, photography and ceramics.

One of the works featured in the display—de Waal’s and show and end (2020)—is a gold-lined, 0.8-inch-wide ceramic bowl that sits atop a matching pedestal, notes Mark Westall for FAD magazine. The delicate object speaks to the artist’s long-standing obsession with porcelain. (Most of his previous installations were, of course, far larger.)






The 1934 Model Art Gallery

(Barney Hindle © Pallant House Gallery)

Edmund de Waal, and show and end, 2020

(Pallant House Gallery © Edmund de Waal)

Lubaina Himid, Out Shopping

(Pallant House Gallery © Lubaina Himid)

One of the works featured in the display—de Waal’s and show and end (2020)—is a gold-lined, 0.8-inch-wide ceramic bowl that sits atop a matching pedestal, notes Mark Westall for FAD magazine. The delicate object speaks to the artist’s long-standing obsession with porcelain. (Most of his previous installations were, of course, far larger.)

Speaking with the Observer, Martin says, “Sculptors are used to making maquettes [or scale models] of their work first, and I have often had to print up small images of paintings to hang in different ways when I am curating a show, so it is strange but also something that we are familiar with.”

The exhibition will also include a print from the late photographer Khadija Saye’s 2013 series Crowned. As Fault magazine reported in 2017, this body of work consists of eight photographs of black women showing viewers the ways in which they choose to adorn their hair. The print is the only work from the series that was not destroyed in the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, which claimed the lives of 72 people, including the 24-year-old artist.

“We are lucky to have a unique print from Khadija,” Martin tells the Observer. “She had sent it to a trustee who had helped her to get to [the Venice Biennale] and so it escaped destruction.”

Craftspeople created Pallant House’s first model art gallery in 1934, when dealer Sydney Burney helped organize an exhibition of miniature art to raise money for charity, writes Caroline Goldstein for Artnet News. The show highlighted works by leading British artists of the day, including Vanessa Bell, Ivon Hitchens, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, and served as “a mini-collection of the best of British art between the [world] wars,” wrote Richard Ingleby for the Independent in 1997.






Maggi Hambling, Naked Night, 2020

(Pallant House Gallery / Donated by the Artist, 2020 ©Maggi Hambling)

Tacita Dean, Disappearance at Sea, 2020

(© Tacita Dean / Courtesy of the artist)

The 1934 Model Art Gallery

(Barney Hindle © Pallant House Gallery)

Decades later, in 2000, Pallant House hired architects to create a small-scale copy of its contemporary wing and held a second show featuring works by Frank Auerbach, Peter Blake and Anthony Caro, per the statement.

Other artists and cultural institutions have hosted similarly small-scale exhibitions throughout history. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, for example, has a collection of three 17th- and 18th-century dollhouses outfitted with intricate, custom-made furnishings; in 2017, the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery hosted Frances Glessner Lee’s Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, a series of dollhouse-sized crime scene dioramas used to train investigators.

More recently, pandemic-worn art enthusiasts Filippo Lorenzin and Marianna Benetti created a tiny art gallery for their pet gerbils, while Brooklyn-based artist Eny Lee Parker launched a contest encouraging other creatives to fashion miniature clay houses.

The works included in these displays may be small, but as Martin argues, the scale of an artwork shouldn’t determine its significance.

“Every single one of these works are serious, they have some serious conceptual messages in them,” he tells Louisa Buck of the Art Newspaper “We have been having exactly the same curatorial conversations that you’d have with a full-scale building: questions about lighting, flooring, positioning. This is not a doll’s house, it’s a serious show in a serious piece of architecture.”

Masterpieces in Miniature: The 2021 Model Art Gallery” will be on view at the Pallant House Gallery in West Sussex, England, from June 26 through spring 2022.