The vision for The Arts Club's collection stems, in many ways, from its history. When the club was founded by such luminaries as Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope, with members including Auguste Rodin and James Whistler, it was a place where writers, artists and intellectuals met to discuss the cutting edge ideas of their time. The contemporary art world is animated by voices from around the globe and the Club is building an international collection and exhibition programme that reflects these diverse voices and provides a space for the new ideas of this generation to thrive.
Although there is no overriding conceptual theme to the collection, certain characteristics have emerged. For centuries clubs have hung portraits of their notable members in their rooms. Our Condo room demonstrates a contemporary take on portraiture, evoking the gnarled, precarious mental states of each imagined sitter. John Stezaker and Allan McCollum likewise express their own conceptual interpretations of portraiture.
The hanging of certain artworks also has its own art historical antecedents. The Condo room and upstairs Members' rooms are tightly hung in salon style, a reflection of the more intimate townhouse setting. The selection of artists ranges from emerging to well-established, including key figures such as John Baldessari and Albert Oehlen who continue to be strong influences on younger generations.
Two of the upstairs Members' rooms are devoted to changing solo-artist and group exhibitions, and the downstairs nightclub hosts performance art events in addition to its music programme, offering a dynamic interchange of multidisciplinary thought. Although Dickens and his fellow founders might be surprised by many of the 21st century's artistic innovations, we like to think the new energy of the Club is something of which they would approve.
Amelie von Wedel