Today is the launch of Sotheby’s highly anticipated annual selling exhibition of outdoor sculpture set in the stunning grounds of Chatsworth in Derbyshire. Beyond Limits presents a global collection of monumental art by modern and contemporary artists installed across the Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown landscape that is the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.
The twelfth Duke of Devonshire
For over three centuries the head of the Cavendish family have garnered many unofficial 'titles' by way of distinction and influence in political and social British history. This tradition continues today with the twelfth Duke earning the moniker, Duke of Bling – a fitting epithet that reflects his commitment of a five-year-plan, and £14 million project, that will see the restoration of his ancestral home to its original gilded splendour.
Presently in its third year and taking heed of the motto inscribed on the House, Cavendo Tutus (safe by taking care), the plan has focused on major works on both the interior and exterior of the House. The State Apartments, decorated with objets d’art that makeup one of the finest private collections in the land, return to their seventeenth and eighteenth century magnificence, as do forty-two windows and twenty-one two-metre high urns that have been given a touch of bling with twenty-four carat gold leaf, which sets off the golden sandstone façade spectacularly.
As with his ancestors, the current Duke continues the tradition and duty of supporting contemporary creativity with commissions by Michael Craig-Martin for a digital portrait of his daughter, the Countess of Burlington, and works by Lucien Freud and Damien Hirst to name a few, which are on display to symbolise the importance of evolution by engaging with the present, as well as reminding visitors Chatsworth remains a functioning private family home to this day.
My first visit to Chatsworth a few weeks ago was inspiring from beginning to end. Aside from the spectacular House and visitor services that are second to none in comparison to many public institutions I have visited, I was fortunate to witness the rare spectacle of large-scale art installation that was taking place in preparation for Beyond Limits. Below are a series of photos I shot during my visit – from the precision installation of Alice Aycock’s gravity-defying Cyclone Twist to Marc Quinn’s gigantic bronze shell Spiral of the Galaxy through to the decorative details that may be discovered in the decadent interiors and the beautiful warren of gardens that are all unquestionably worthy of a revisit once full restoration is complete in 2015.
Beyond Limits opens today at Chatsworth and runs to 27th October 2013. Entry to the exhibition is part of a garden ticket - for further information visit Chatsworth and Sotheby’s for details on exhibiting artists and sales.
Cyclone Twist, 2013 - Alice Aycock
Cornwall Slate Line, 2010 - Richard Long
Spiral of the Galaxy, 2013 - Marc Quinn
Declination, 2005 - Tony Cragg
Standing Woman, 2003 - Fernando Botero
Pavilion, 1993 - Thomas Heatherwick
English Baroque style
Objects speak louder than words
Digital portrait of the Countess of Burlington, 2010 - Michael Craig-Martin
Chapel - Saint Bartholomew, Exquisite Pain, 2006 - Damien Hirst
State Music Room
Room with a view
Great Dining Room
Marble lions (c.1823) by Francesco Benaglia (above) and Rinaldo Rinaldi (below)
Picnic on the wild side
Officially launching later in the month by Sotheby's, Modern Makers will exhibit contemporary craft by international artisans in the main House. The exhibition will comprise of furniture, textiles, ceramic and metalwork, which will be on display throughout the famed English Baroque interiors of Chatsworth to create new dialogues between the past and present. Modern Makers opens on 18th September 2013 to 23rd December 2013.