Ikon Gallery wins £125,000 grant to put on ‘dream’ show of overlooked Renaissance master Carlo Crivelli

Carlo Crivelli's The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius (1486) © The National Gallery, London

Birminghams Ikon Gallery has been named the first winner of the Ampersand Foundation Award, a new £125,000 grant for UK museums to realise a dream project. In a departure for the contemporary art gallery, it will organise the first UK exhibition devoted to the overlooked Italian Renaissance master Carlo Crivelli in summer 2021.

Where his peers such as Mantegna and Bellini have been celebrated for their innovations, art historians have cast Crivelli as a conservative for his highly decorative, late-Gothic style and erratic use of perspective. Unmentioned in Giorgio Vasaris foundational 1550 compendium The Lives of the Artists, Crivelli “just wasnt in the mainstream” and “theres nobody quite like him”, says Ikons director, Jonathan Watkins. “I wanted to make an exhibition to make people realise how sophisticated he was.”

The winning show, Carlo Crivelli: Radical Illusionism in the 15th Century, will focus on the artists experiments with trompe loeil, which first fascinated Watkins as an art history undergraduate. In a 1988 essay published in Art International magazine, he compared Crivellis “visual trickery” with that of the Belgian Surrealist René Magritte. As a young curator, “the idea of doing a Crivelli exhibition would have been in my dreams,” he says. “I couldnt have realised it then and its not easy now.”

Despite the “practical difficulties of moving fragile works on panels”, Watkins hopes to secure around a dozen paintings for the exhibition. The National Gallery in London—home to the worlds finest collection of Crivellis work—has already agreed to lend four key pieces. These include the two-metre-high altarpiece The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius (1486), described by the New York Times art critic Roberta Smith as “the mother of all Annunciation paintings”; The Vision of the Blessed Gabriel (around 1489); and two small predella panels Saint Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Mary Magdalene (both around 1491-94).

The exhibition will be free to visit “thanks to the generosity of the Ampersand FoundRead More – Source