Ben Uri Gallery
|Public transit access||Kilburn High Road|
Ben Uri Gallery, The Art Museum for Everyone, is a registered museum and charity currently sited at 108a Boundary Road, off the famous Abbey Road in St John's Wood, London, England. It is one of the rare museums in Europe dedicated to exploring the work and lives of émigré artists in London.
The Ben Uri Art Society was founded in the East End of London in 1915 by the Russian emigre artist Lazar Berson to provide an art venue for Jewish immigrant craftsmen and artists unable to gain access to mainstream artistic societies at that time, due to traditional obstacles faced by all migrant minorities. Ben Uri was founded in the vein of the Bezalel School created 9 years earlier in 1906 in Jerusalem. It was named after Bezalel Ben Uri, the craftsman who designed and built the Ark of the Covenant. Between 1926 and 1933 the president of the Ben Uri Art Society was renowned painter Leopold Pilichowski from Poland (1869–1934).
In its permanent collection, Ben Uri has about 1,300 artworks, and is seeking a site in Central London to house and display them, but its present location is only large enough for blockbuster temporary exhibitions including the series on the Whitechapel Boys; Cross Purposes, tracing the use of the Crucifixion motif during the 20th century and recent contemporary art; in June 2012 Dodo, re-discovering an artist from Berlin in the Weimar 1920s and 30s; followed in October by a survey of 40 years work by the American artist Judy Chicago.
In response to the rapidly changing world, Ben Uri has re-assessed its exhibition programme over the coming years and has committed to a series of exhibitions surveying the contribution and impact of refugees and immigrants to 20th and 21st-century British art.
Firstly, the gallery assessed the impact of German refugees and immigrants. Refugees – The Lives of Others', two exhibitions exploring the contribution of German refugee artists to 20th Century British Art, was the first part of the series. The exhibition included artworks from Ben Uri’s collection partnered with works from the exhibition ‘Thirty Six Pounds and Ninety Five Pence’ art produced during art therapy sessions at the New Art Studio by current refugees and asylum seekers through our Picturing Memories programme. The exhibition is dedicated to Eva Frankfurther.
On the 28 June, Ben Uri Gallery opened the second exhibition in the series: Art Out of the Bloodlands: A Century of Polish Artists in Britain.
Next year, the Indian sub-continent will be examined, and in the following years, Ben Uri will similarly assess many other countries whose loss has been this country's gain.
- Schwab, W. M. (1987). Jewish artists : the Ben Uri Collection : paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture. London: Ben Uri Art Society. OCLC 233681034.