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Image of Detail from a painting, a yellow box shape with white, grey and brown background
Athens 2 Erechtheion, copyright Fondazione Congdon

Congdon exhibition opens in West Court Gallery

Paintings by Abstract Expressionist William Congdon never before shown in the UK are on display in a new exhibition running until 3 March 2019 at our West Court Gallery.

William Congdon: American Modernist Abroad has been organised in collaboration with the Fondazione Congdon in Milan and is co-curated by Dr Donal Cooper, College Curator of Works of Art, and Alessandro Rubin, a third year BA History of Art student at Jesus College. Free to attend, the exhibition is open daily from 10am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 5pm.

Congdon (1912-1998) made his name in New York in the early 1950s before moving to Venice where he became a close friend of Peggy Guggenheim, who avidly collected his paintings.

While travelling widely across several continents, Congdon's base remained in Italy, and he eventually settled in the countryside near Milan. His work unites the abstraction of post-war modernism with more traditional themes of landscape and city views.

Coming from Italy to Cambridge, the paintings in this exhibition complement the extensive ensemble of Congdon's work at Kettle's Yard. Congdon was a close friend of Jim Ede, to whom he sold and gave both paintings and sketches, and Kettle's Yard holds the most significant group of Congdon's work in any UK collection. 

An official opening of William Congdon: American Modernist Abroad on 18 January 2019 was accompanied by a talk on Congdon's life and work by Paolo Biscottini, professor of art history and museology at the Catholic University in Milan, and a close friend of Congdon's in his later years.

Co-Curator Alessandro Rubin, said: "The exhibition presents the College as a space of encounter. Born from the dialogue with the Milanese art world, the show is the product of synergy between the College and its student body. I am delighted and grateful to be presenting this collaboration through Congdon’s own travels across the world.”  

Fellow Co-Curator Dr Donal Cooper, commented: "It's very special to show Congdon's work in Cambridge, especially given the link between the artist and Kettle's Yard. The West Court Gallery show will complement Congdon's works collected by Jim Ede in the Kettle's Yard house and provide a unique opportunity to reconsider this fascinating and often overlooked painter".

Both Co-curators will take part in a talk exploring Congdon’s paintings and the artist’s connections with Jim Ede at Kettle's Yard on 15 February. Free tickets and more information are available from the Kettle's Yard website.

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