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Contemporary Art

Contemporary Art's Guardian Angel

Artangel today launches ARTISTS FOR ARTANGEL: A Fund for the Future, for which artists such as Wolfgang Tillmans, Jeremy Deller and Antony Gormley have donated works that will be exhibited and auctioned to inaugurate a fund for future commissions and projects to "challenge perceptions, surprise and inspire". The online auction runs from 7-28 June, culminating in a live auction on the evening of 28 June. 

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RACHEL WHITEREAD, HOUSE, 1993. © RACHEL WHITEREAD. COURTESY OF ARTANGEL. 

Founded over 30 years ago to initiate site-specific installations by the world's leading contemporary artists around London, the UK and beyond, Artangel has been at the forefront of some of the most ambitious and spectacular projects the capital, and the art world, has ever seen. Among the first of these was Rachel Whiteread's House, cast in concrete from a derelict house to create a haunting and poignant sculpture on a monumental scale.

Whiteread's work was met with some controversy at the time; some from locals in Bow asking what it was for, and others from those who were disappointed when the work was demolished after three months. In fact, a petition was launched to keep the structure, and it was debated in Parliament. Most of Artangel’s projects, are site-specific and temporary – the ephemeral nature of these works adding to their charm. House would go on to win Whiteread the Turner Prize in 1993. 

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Marcus Leith
ROGER HIORNS, SEIZURE, 2008. AN ARTANGEL COMMISSION. PHOTOGRAPH BY MARCUS J. LEITH; COURTESY OF ARTANGEL.

The projects are diverse, too; in 2015 Artangel staged the live recording of PJ Harvey's album The Hope Six Demolition Project at Somerset House, in which viewers could watch Harvey and her band in a glass-box studio, perfecting and reworking the record in an intense period of production, immersed in sound over the course of several weeks.

Other notable commissions include Roger Hiorns 2008 commission, Seizure. Hiorns sealed off a disused flat on a council estate in Elephant and Castle and filled the space with copper-sulphate, and the resulting crystallised cavern became a Mecca for art-lovers and locals alike. Seizure became the must-see art event of the year as word spread about this beautiful, eerie spectacle. A once domestic space with recognisable doors, walls and appliances, rendered uninhabitable by Hiorns scientific intervention.

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INSTALLATION VIEW OF ARTISTS FOR ARTANGEL EXHIBITION. LEFT-RIGHT: DOUGLAS GORDON, PRIVATE PASSIONS, 2011; BRIAN ENO, AEOLIAN, 2018; MIKE KELLEY AND FRIENDS, SWAG LAMP AND SUB-BASEMENT BOX FOR MOBILE HOMESTEAD, 2010-2018. PHOTOGRAPH BY STEPHEN WHITE, COURTESY OF ARTANGEL.

Now, to further the activities of this trailblazing organisation, Artangel are embarking on a new project: raising funds to continue providing support and guidance for artists wishing to realise ambitious ideas, be they large-scale public artworks, performances, explorations of new materials and mediums, or the use or technology to bring a concept to life.

It is precisely this 'anything is possible' philosophy that has kept Artangel at the pinnacle of innovation, as explained by Artangel's Co-Directors, James Lingwood and Michael Morris: "Over the past couple of decades, Artangel has encouraged some of the world’s most exceptional artists to think the unthinkable and realise the unimaginable. Those artists have now chosen to encourage us and generously gifted a range of stunning works to create a fund for the future, ensuring that Artangel can continue to be a bold and independent  pathfinder over the next decade."

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WOLFGANG TILLMANS, SEPARATE SYSTEM, READING PRISON (SELF A), 2016. PHOTOGRAPH BY STEPHEN WHITE, COURTESY OF ARTANGEL.

The 45 artists who have benefited from the patronage of Artangel are now giving back. Roni Horn, Antony Gormley, Susan Hiller, Nan Goldin and Brian Eno have all donated works to the cause, and an exhibition of these works opens on the 8th June at 22 Cork Street. Each piece, which ranges from painting, sculpture, photography and installation, will be auctioned for the fund, and you can see the lots and bid online here.

Sotheby's is extremely proud to support this project, and the future projects enabled by the ARTISTS FOR ARTANGEL auction.

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