Getting to know Richard Wentworth, CBE better

5/08/2020     Modern & Contemporary British Art, News Stories & Press Release

Here we map the journey to success of the British artist, curator and teacher, Richard Wentworth CBE, who is among the most influential artists alive in Britain.


Richard Wentworth CBE, British b.1947- Palette, 2004; mixed media newspaper collage relief for auction in Roseberys Modern & Contemporary British Art auction 11 August 2020


Richard Wentworth was born in Samoa (at the time a province of New Zealand) in 1947. He studied art at Hornsey College of Art in North London from 1965, during this period he worked with Henry Moore. Wentworth then studied at the Royal College of Art where he was a contemporary of Zoë Wanamaker and Tony Scott.


Richard Wentworth CBE, British b.1947- Sketchbook, 2009; printed book, collage, mixed media construction - for auction in Roseberys Modern & Contemporary British Art auction 11 August 2020


Between 1971 and 1987, Wentworth taught at Goldsmiths College and his influence has been claimed in the work of the Young British Artists. It was often said by his students that, after talking to him, one begins to ‘see the world as a Wentworth’, meaning that one suddenly has a heightened awareness of the position of objects in one’s environment, and a refreshed curiosity in how they came to be there and how we might interpret them. After his time at Goldsmiths he was then appointed to the German Academic Exchange Service in Berlin.


Richard Wentworth CBE, British b.1947- Cro-Magnon Vanitas/Wooden Paint Box, 2007; mixed media sculpture in wooden box - for auction in Roseberys Modern & Contemporary British Art auction 11 August 2020


During the 70’s Wentworth rose to stardom in the art world, emerging as part of the loosely grouped New British Sculpture movement. The movement that was defined by their collective reaction against the largely po-faced austerity of Minimalist and Conceptual art. His work, encompassing the notion of objects and their use as part of our everyday experiences, has altered the traditional definition of sculpture as well as photography. By repositioning industrial objects, either bought or found into disarmingly poetic and curiously metaphysical works of art, Wentworth subverts their original function and extends our understanding of them by destroying the conventional system of classification. By taking on the semantics of the everyday world and arranging them in a fashion, his work forces us to recognise the drama inherent in that which we too easily ignore as routine. His witty takes on the world around him challenge the notion of what art actually is.

 Richard Wentworth

Richard Wentworth CBE via his Instagram


In the mid-1980s, his contrasting manipulated buckets, tables and chairs appeared on the international scene in the context of his generational contemporaries Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, and Bill Woodrow. Carrying on his theme of rerouting what and how objects signify, Wentworth applied methods of joining, inserting, and pairing, attempting to draw objects out, uncovering their various new meanings.

 Richard Wentworth Art

Richard Wentworth CBE, British b.1947- Small photo, 1994; c-print mounted on Perspex sheet in aluminium stand, mixed media construction - for auction in Roseberys Modern & Contemporary British Art auction 11 August 2020


From 2002 to 2010, Wentworth was 'Master of Drawing' at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University and was the head of the Sculpture department at The Royal College of Art, London from 2009 - 2011.

Richard wentworth

Richard Wentworth, CBE for baldacchini hat photographed by Veronica Croce via Instagram @baldacchini_hat


In 2011, Wentworth was awarded an OBE. Today he continues to live and works in London.

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

His cultural projects include curating the Lisson Gallery's Summer show oule to Braid featuring a large number of works from his personal collection and that of Lisson director Nicholas Logsdail in July 2009. In 2000, together with Fischli & Weiss and Gabriel Orozco he worked in "Aprendiendo menos" (Learning Less), curated by Patricia Martín and presented in Centro de la Imagen, Mexico city. In 1998 - 99 he curated Thinking Aloud, a national Touring exhition organised by the Hayward Gallery at Kettle's Yard, Cambridge and Camden Arts Centre, London that explored the creative process as well as the profligate nature of mass production and consumerism.


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