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Monochrome at the National Gallery


Thursday 8th February




9 am to 10 am

at the National Gallery



Thursday 8th February 2018

at 9 am



National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN



Discover with the curator and before opening hours the exhibition Monochrome: Painting in Black and White at the National Gallery



With more than 50 works painted on glass, vellum, ceramic, silk, wood, and canvas, ‘Monochrome’ explores the tradition of painting in black and white over 700 years, from its beginnings in the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and into the 21st century.

Paintings by old masters such as van Eyck, Dürer, Rembrandt, and Ingres appear alongside works by some of the most exciting contemporary artists working today, including Gerhard Richter, Chuck Close, and Bridget Riley. Olafur Eliasson’s immersive light installation ‘Room for one colour’ (1997) brings a suitably mind-altering coda to the exhibition.

With major loans from around the world, and works from the National Gallery Collection, ‘Monochrome’ is a radical new look at what happens when artists cast aside the colour spectrum and focus on the visual power of black, white, and everything in between.



Albert Godycki

Educated in New York, Krakow, Paris, and London, Albert has been working with international clients to build and manage their collections of European fine art since 2012. Before commencing his PhD studies at the The Courtauld Institute, Albert was on the curatorial team at the National Gallery, London. While there, he contributed to numerous exhibitions, including Late Rembrandt (2015), and Vermeer and Music (2013), conducted collection research and created the display of pre-1600 paintings for a new gallery space. Albert continues to lecture and publish widely, and is currently preparing a major loan exhibition on Polish Symbolism for the Munich Kunsthalle in 2019.

Dr Jennifer Sliwka

An art historian specialising in Italian Renaissance art, Jennifer received her PhD from the Johns Hopkins University and MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Her research has been supported by the Getty Research Institute, the Kress Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Villa I Tatti, The Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies.

She has taught for Universities in Canada, the US, France, Italy and the UK and helped design and teach the collaborative MA in ‘Christianity and the Arts’ between King’s College and the National Gallery.

From 2007-2017 she worked as a Curator at the National Gallery, London, curating exhibitions including: ‘Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces before 1500’ (2011) and ‘Visions of Paradise: Botticini’s Palmieri Altarpiece’ (2015). She is guest curator of the forthcoming exhibition ‘Monochrome: Painting in Black and White’ (2017-18).

Before joining the National Gallery she worked at the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.



The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.

The Gallery’s collection belongs to the government on behalf of the British public, and entry to the main collection is free of charge. It is among the most visited art museums in the world, after the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Unlike comparable museums in continental Europe, the National Gallery was not formed by nationalising an existing royal or princely art collection. It came into being when the British government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein, an insurance broker and patron of the arts, in 1824. After that initial purchase the Gallery was shaped mainly by its early directors, notably Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, and by private donations, which comprise two-thirds of the collection.

The resulting collection is small in size, compared with many European national galleries, but encyclopaedic in scope; most major developments in Western painting « from Giotto to Cézanne » are represented with important works. It used to be claimed that this was one of the few national galleries that had all its works on permanent exhibition, but this is no longer the case.

The present building, the third to house the National Gallery, was designed by William Wilkins from 1832 to 1838. Only the façade onto Trafalgar Square remains essentially unchanged from this time, as the building has been expanded piecemeal throughout its history. Wilkins’s building was often criticised for the perceived weaknesses of its design and for its lack of space; the latter problem led to the establishment of the Tate Gallery for British art in 1897.

The Sainsbury Wing, an extension to the west by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, is a notable example of Postmodernist architecture in Britain. The current Director of the National Gallery is Gabriele Finaldi.