This display looks at the changing roles of currency and exchange in communist states in the century since the 1917 Russian Revolution. 🤑 🤑 🤑
Communism proposes that money has no role in a utopian society. To date though, no communist state has successfully removed money from its economy. In the last 100 years, communism has existed in various forms in dozens of states all around in the world. From eastern Europe to Southeast Asia, this display examines the role of money in communist states, as well as the iconography and imagery associated with it.
Within communist economies, concepts of value and wealth are eroded and distorted, and the national currency becomes just one of various means of exchange. The display features examples of how the value of money has been reduced by communist states. East German coins made from aluminium demonstrate how communist currency was deliberately made to feel light and cheap. Adverts for savings banks from the USSR show how consumer benefits were left out of advertising in favour of information explaining how savings benefit the state.
With the reduced role of currency, communist states introduced different reward systems, starting in Russia in the 1930s. Stalin said people were to be measured ‘by their heroic feats’. A worker who exceeded their factory quota may receive the Order of the Badge of Honour, and a mother who raised nine children would receive the Order of Maternal Glory, First Class. These awards came with monetary bonuses, and allowed recipients access to a better quality of life due to the perks that came with them.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the transition to democracy in the early 1990s had a huge effect on former communist states. With borders and economies suddenly open after many years, new ideas and imagery soon began to circulate, along with new national currencies. Today there are only four states with planned economies – China, Laos, Cuba and Vietnam. Trading relations between them and capitalist countries have become normalised, but concepts of currency and political ideology continue to evolve.
This exhibition presents an important survey of works on paper that traces Maggi Hambling’s engagement with drawing throughout her career. It includes work from the British Museum’s collection, loans from the National Portrait Gallery and Tate, and rarely seen work from private collections and the artist’s studio.
One of Britain’s foremost contemporary artists, Hambling is perhaps best known for her compelling portraits, paintings of the sea, and her celebrated and controversial public sculpture, including A Conversation with Oscar Wilde (1998) and Scallop (2003). Less familiar, but equally significant, are her dynamic and sensuous works on paper. Forging an immediate and powerful connection with the subject being drawn, the concept of ‘touch’ pervades these works, distilling the themes of life and death that underscore her art. This exhibition presents over 40 works on paper, many of which are on show for the first time.
‘I believe the subject chooses the artist, not vice versa, and that subject must then be in charge during the act of drawing in order for the truth to be found. Eye and hand attempt to discover and produce those precise marks which recreate what the heart feels. The challenge is to touch the subject, with all the desire of a lover.’
Explore contemporary manga’s diverse appeal through works by three of the medium’s leading artists.
The graphic art form of manga developed in the early 20th century, and is based on traditional Japanese artistic and literary genres. It continues to reflect current concerns in Japanese society and can even be a catalyst for change or protest. Manga has grown to be a vital part of global popular culture, but this exported form does not always convey the range and content of Japanese manga. This display features newly commissioned and recent pieces by Chiba Tetsuya, Hoshino Yukinobu and Nakamura Hikaru.
The main image in this display will be an original colour drawing of a golfer on a green by prominent and influential manga artist Chiba Tetsuya. He is a specialist of sports manga that relate a young person’s struggle for recognition through dedication to sport.
The second generation of contemporary manga is represented by Hoshino Yukinobu, with a portrait of his new character Rainman. One of Japan’s best-known science fiction manga artists, Hoshino Yukinobu’s Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure featured in a Room 3 display in 2011.
Nakamura Hikaru represents the most recent generation of manga artists and is currently the seventh bestselling manga artist in Japan. Fusing everyday life with youth culture and cutting-edge production techniques, her work in this display imagines the comical existence of Jesus and Buddha as flatmates in Tokyo.
Together, the rare display of these three original artworks trace how the medium has evolved over recent generations, showing the breadth and depth of manga in Japan today.
The Museum has recently acquired a complete set of Picasso’s Vollard Suite – 100 etchings produced by Picasso between 1930 and 1937. This is the only complete Vollard Suite held by a public museum in the UK. The exhibition will display the suite alongside classical sculpture, Rembrandt etchings and Goya prints – all influences on Picasso in this body of work.
View them while you have the time as they will move on, on the 2nd of September.