Image of Paule Vézelay Self-portrait, Paule Vézelay, c.1927-1929 © National Portrait Gallery, London
Anthony Van Dyck’s 1640 self-portrait might well be one of the most recognisable paintings of its kind, capturing both the artist and his definitive style in one fell swoop. Acquired for the nation in 2014, the portrait is now making its way to the Laing Art Gallery as part of a wider exhibition, Modern Visionaries, which draws together works that bring the audience face to face with a wealth of artists.
The wide-ranging exhibition showcases stunning pieces from some of the most iconic painters of the 20th and 21st Century, including Picasso and Lowry. Each piece is intended to draw attention to the changing role of the artist as a “visionary.” One contemporary visionary taking part in the exhibition is the idiosyncratic Marcus Coates, who has been commissioned to deliver a new live piece to coincide with the event.
Having worked extensively with Gateshead’s Workplace Gallery and across the country, Coates has developed a keen interest in quirky self-portraiture. However, he’s also developed a particular passion for trying to use his work as a service to the public, responding to questions and concerns through his art. It’s these two aspects that are set to collide in his live work, which will take place in an offsite location in May. The exhibition is open from now until Sunday 4th June: so, whether you’re interested in old or modern masters, there’s rarely been a better chance to get up close and personal with so many iconic artists in one space.