Richard Wentworth

Getting to Know:

Richard Wentworth

1947 -

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Richard Wentworth CBE, a prominent British artist, curator, and teacher, is widely recognized as one of the most influential figures in contemporary British art. This biography traces his journey to success, highlighting his groundbreaking contributions to the art world and his ongoing influence on artistic practices in Britain.

Born in Samoa in 1947 (then a province of New Zealand), Richard Wentworth embarked on his artistic journey by studying art at Hornsey College of Art in North London starting in 1965. It was during this period that he had the opportunity to collaborate with the renowned sculptor Henry Moore. He further honed his skills and artistic vision at the prestigious Royal College of Art, where he was contemporaries with notable figures like Zoë Wanamaker and Tony Scott.

From 1971 to 1987, Wentworth shared his knowledge and expertise as a teacher at Goldsmiths College, leaving an indelible impact on the emerging Young British Artists. His students often remarked that conversing with Wentworth offered a transformative experience, enabling them to perceive the world through a "Wentworth" lens. This perspective heightened their awareness of object placement within their environment and sparked a renewed curiosity in interpreting and understanding their surroundings. After his tenure at Goldsmiths, Wentworth was appointed to the German Academic Exchange Service in Berlin, further expanding his artistic horizons.

During the 1970s, Wentworth rose to stardom in the art world as a prominent figure within the loosely grouped New British Sculpture movement. This movement reacted against the austere nature of Minimalist and Conceptual art, and Wentworth's work played a significant role in reshaping the conventional definition of sculpture and photography. By recontextualizing industrial objects, whether acquired or found, Wentworth created disarmingly poetic and metaphysical works of art, subtly subverting their original functions and challenging traditional systems of classification. Through his artistic practice, Wentworth imbued everyday objects with new meanings, urging viewers to recognize the drama and significance often overlooked in the routines of daily life. His witty interpretations of the world around him continually questioned the boundaries of art itself.

In the mid-1980s, Wentworth's manipulated buckets, tables, and chairs gained international acclaim alongside contemporaries like Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, and Bill Woodrow. He continued to explore the rerouting of object signification, employing techniques of joining, inserting, and pairing to unveil new layers of meaning within familiar objects.

Wentworth's passion for teaching and sharing knowledge led him to assume the role of 'Master of Drawing' at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University, from 2002 to 2010. Subsequently, he served as the head of the Sculpture department at The Royal College of Art, London, from 2009 to 2011, leaving a lasting impact on the artistic development of future generations.

In recognition of his immense contributions to the arts, Richard Wentworth was awarded an OBE in 2011. Presently, he resides and continues his artistic practice in London, serving as an inspiration and mentor to emerging artists.

Wentworth's work has been showcased in numerous prestigious solo exhibitions worldwide. Notable recent exhibitions include SWG3 in Glasgow, UK, with Victoria Miguel (2018); Galerie Azzedine Alaïa in Paris, France (2017); Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indiana, USA (2015); Bold Tendencies in Peckham, London, UK (2015); 'Black Maria' in collaboration with Gruppe in Kings Cross, London, UK (2013); Whitechapel Gallery in London, UK (2010); 52nd Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy (2009); Tate Liverpool, UK (2005); Artangel in London, UK (2002); Bonner Kunstverein in Bonn, Germany (1998); Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (1994); and Serpentine Gallery in London, UK (1993). Wentworth has also participated in significant group exhibitions at renowned institutions such as Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, UK (2018); Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne, UK (2018); Luma Foundation in Gstaad, Switzerland (2016); the Foundling Museum in London, UK (2016); MAC in Belfast, Ireland (2016); Hayward Gallery in London, UK (2015); and Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham, UK (2014).

In addition to his artistic endeavors, Richard Wentworth has curated notable cultural projects. In 2009, he curated the Lisson Gallery's Summer show, 'oule to Braid,' featuring an extensive selection of works from his personal collection and that of Lisson director Nicholas Logsdail. Furthermore, in 2000, Wentworth collaborated with artists Fischli & Weiss and Gabriel Orozco in "Aprendiendo menos" (Learning Less), a curated exhibition by Patricia Martín presented at Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City. Wentworth's curatorial achievements also include "Thinking Aloud," a touring exhibition organized by the Hayward Gallery, which explored the creative process and the prolific nature of mass production and consumerism, with exhibitions held at Kettle's Yard in Cambridge and Camden Arts Centre in London in 1998-1999.

Richard Wentworth's artistic legacy and his ongoing commitment to pushing artistic boundaries have solidified his status as one of Britain's most influential artists. His groundbreaking work, transformative teaching, and significant curatorial contributions continue to shape and inspire the contemporary art scene.

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