Langlands & Bell

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Langlands & Bell

Langlands & Bell are two artists who work collaboratively. Ben Langlands (born London 1955) and Nikki Bell (born London 1959), began collaborating in 1978, while studying Fine Art at Middlesex Polytechnic in North London, from 1977 to 1980.

Artistic practice and career[edit]

Their artistic practice ranges from sculpture, film and video, to innovative digital media projects, art installations and full-scale architecture. Their work focuses on the complex web of relationships linking people with architecture and the built environment, and on a wider global level, the coded systems of mass-communications and exchange we use to negotiate an increasingly fast-changing technological world.

Their first collaboration, in 1978, was an installation called The Kitchen, consisting of two side-by-side kitchens, one created by Langlands and the other by Bell.[1]

In the mid-1980s, they became known for making monochromatic sculptures and reliefs, often in the form of furniture or architectural models, which employed an analytical and almost archeological approach to architecture and design typologies to explore human relationships from the personal, to the cultural, economic and political.[2]

Langlands & Bell have exhibited internationally throughout their career including in exhibitions at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, the Imperial War Museum, the Serpentine Gallery,[3] and the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, at IMMA, Dublin, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany, MoMA, New York, the Central House of the Artist, Moscow, the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Venice Biennale,[4] Seoul Biennale, and CCA Kitakyushu[5][6] and TN Probe,[7] Tokyo, Japan.

Their work was first purchased by Charles Saatchi in 1990 and 1991 from exhibitions at Maureen Paley Interim Art, London.[8] It was subsequently exhibited in the first of the Young British Artists exhibitions at the Saatchi Collection, Boundary Road in 1992,[9] and again in the 1997 Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy in London.[10] Sensation toured to the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin and the Brooklyn Museum, New York in 1998/99.

In 1996–1997, a major survey exhibition Langlands & Bell Works 1986–1996 co-curated by the Serpentine Gallery, London,[11] and Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany [12] also toured to Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa,[13] Palermo, Italy, and Koldo Mitxelena, San Sebastián, Spain.[14]

In 2002, Langlands & Bell were commissioned by the Art Commissions Committee of the Department of Art at the Imperial War Museum, London, to travel to Afghanistan to research "The Aftermath of September 11 and the War in Afghanistan".[15]

In 2004, they won a British Academy of Film & Television Arts award for Interactive Arts Installation for The House of Osama bin Laden, the trilogy of art works resulting from their visit.[16] The group of works includes an interactive computer animation examining the house near Jalalabad occupied by Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s.[17][18][19] In 2004 Langlands & Bell were also short-listed for the Turner Prize for the same work.[20] A few days before the exhibition opened, the film Zardad's Dog, which constituted a third of their presentation, was withdrawn due to legal advice received by Tate that it was sub-judice because of the impending trial of Faryadi Sarwar Zardad, an Afghan former warlord at the Old Bailey.[21][22]

The largest artworks to date by Langlands & Bell are, the 2004 Paddington Basin Bridge, designed in association with Atelier One (structural engineers), an 8-metre high x 45-metre long white metal and glass pedestrian bridge linking Paddington station and the new Paddington Basin Development, London, with a capacity of up to 20,000 people per day;[23] Moving World (Night & Day) (2007) — two 6 x 18-metre permanent outdoor sculptures of steel, glass, and digitally controlled neon at Heathrow Terminal 5;[24] and China, Language of Places (2009), the 18-metre wall painting exhibited in English Lounge at Tang Contemporary Art, 798, Beijing in 2009.[25]

Artworks by Langlands & Bell are in the permanent collections of many prominent international art museums including the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum, Tate and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London; MoMA, New York; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; the Yale Center for British Art, USA; and the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.[26][27]

In 2012, to go alongside the AKA Peace Exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts,[28] Art Below showcased selected works from the AKA Peace series on the London Underground including Langlands & Bell's 'Sign of the Times' 2021.[29] "AKA Peace" originally conceived by photographer Bran Symondson and now curated by artist Jake Chapman, was an exhibition of new works made specially for The Peace One Day Project 2012, bringing together a group of Contemporary Artists, all of whom agreed to transform a decommissioned AK-47 assault rifle, refashioning them into artworks.[30]

In 2016 Langlands & Bell completed the art installation "Beauty < Immortality", a permanent memorial to Frank Pick at Piccadilly Circus Underground station in London that was commissioned by London Transport Museum and Art on the Underground. [31]

Recent solo exhibitions by Langlands & Bell include, "Infinite Loop" at Alan Cristea Gallery, London (2017),[32] "Internet Giants: Masters of the Universe", Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2018),[33] "Degrees of Truth", Sir John Soane's Museum, London (2020),[34] and "Curators Signatures", CCA Kitakyushu, Japan 2020,[35] "The Past is Never Dead…" Gallery 1957, Accra, Ghana (2021).[36]

From April to September 2022 Langlands & Bell will present 3 exhibitions, "Near Heaven",[37] "Ideas of Utopia",[38] and "Absent Artists",[39] at Charleston, the former East Sussex home of the Bloomsbury Group artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.[40]

Personal lives[edit]

Langlands & Bell live in a four-storey Georgian house in Whitechapel, East London, which they bought as a ruin in 1982.[41] They took 18 months out of their careers between 1987 and 1989 to renovate the house and expand their workspace.[1] Since 2010 they have divided their time between Whitechapel and "Untitled" in Kent, the modern off-grid house and studio they designed themselves with structural engineers Atelier One.[42]


  1. ^ a b Michael Stanley (September 2002). "Artists Talking: Langlands and Bell". a-n Magazine. Archived from the original on 22 June 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  2. ^ Sabine Vogel, Langlands & Bell at Luis Campana, Artforum, September 1989
  3. ^ Adrian Searle, "This is the Model World", The Guardian, April 1996
  4. ^ Dan Cameron, "Dan Cameron on the 47th Venice Biennale", Art Forum, September 1997
  5. ^ Akiko Miyake, Nobuo Nakamura, "Interview with Langlands & Bell", Lets Talk About Art, CCA Centre For Contemporary Art Kitakyushu / Korinsha Press Japan, 1997
  6. ^ "Project Gallery > Langlands & Bell". Archived from the original on 5 March 2004. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  7. ^ Emiko Kato, "Langlands & Bell – Artists Interview", BT/Bijutsu Techo (Tokyo) Vol 50 N761
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Sarah Kent, Young British Artists, Saatchi Collection, London 1992
  10. ^ Brooks Adams, Lisa Jardin, Marin Maloney, Norman Rosenthal, Richard Shone, Johnnie Shand Kidd, Sensation, Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, Royal Academy of Arts
  11. ^ Germano Celant Langlands & Bell ,The Transparency of Architecture . pub. Serpentine Gallery, London; Kunsthalle Bielefeld Germany; Grey Art Gallery, New York, 1996. ISBN 1-870814-96-7
  12. ^ Dr Hans-Michael Herzog Interview with Langlands & Bell pub. Serpentine Gallery, London; Kunsthalle Bielefeld Germany; Grey Art Gallery, New York, 1996. ISBN 1-870814-96-7
  13. ^ Ester Coen, "Rinascimento Siciliano", La Republicca, 1996 Nov 2
  14. ^ Cristina Torres, "El Koldo Mitxelena acoge la primera muestre espanola de Langlands & Bell" El Correo Espanol, January 1997
  15. ^ Catherine Milner, "Conceptual Blood and Guts", Sunday Telegraph, 21 April 2002
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ Richard Cork, "Inside The House of Osama bin Laden", The Times T2, 15 April 2003
  18. ^ Sean O'Hagan, "The man who wasn't there", The Observer Review, 30 March 2003
  19. ^ Langlands & Bell, "Travels in al-Qaida Country", The Guardian G2 Arts, 20 May 2004 [ill]
  20. ^ Tate. "Turner Prize 2004 artists: Langlands & Bell". Tate. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  21. ^ Vanessa Thorpe & John Wilson, "M'lud, I find this work of art to be in contempt" The Observer, 17 October 2004
  22. ^ "Turner Prize 2004 – Exhibition at Tate Britain | Tate". Archived from the original on 26 May 2021. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  23. ^ "Paddington Basin in London | days out | canals & rivers". Archived from the original on 23 October 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  24. ^ "Collecting the Contemporary for Tomorrow". Archived from the original on 12 October 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  25. ^ Katie Hill, English Lounge and the art of lived experience Pub: Tang Contemporary Art, 798 Beijing 2009
  26. ^ "Search Collection: Carnegie Museum of Art". Archived from the original on 30 May 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  27. ^ "Search Results: Carnegie Museum of Art". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  28. ^ "Peace One Day's 2012 Art Project". 12 July 2012. Archived from the original on 12 January 2020. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  29. ^ "Sign of the Times 2012". Langlands & Bell. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  30. ^ "AKA BELOW". 27 November 2012. Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  31. ^ "Beauty < Immortality". Art on the Underground. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  32. ^ "Langlands & Bell | Infinite Loop". Cristea Roberts Gallery. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  33. ^ "Internet Giants : Masters of the Universe | Ikon". 22 November 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  34. ^ "Langlands & Bell: Degrees of Truth". 16 September 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  35. ^ "Center for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu (CCA Kitakyushu) – Directory – Art & Education". Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  36. ^ "Langlands & Bell, Installation – 'The Past Is Never Dead...'". Gallery 1957. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  37. ^ "Charleston — Near Heaven". Charleston. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  38. ^ "Charleston — Langlands & Bell: Ideas of Utopia". Charleston. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  39. ^ "Charleston — Absent Artists". Charleston. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  40. ^ "Charleston". Charleston. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  41. ^ Dominic Lutyens (16 March 2008). "Home is where the art is". The Observer. Archived from the original on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  42. ^ Magazine, Wallpaper* (1 October 2018). "Langlands & Bell's modernist box in rural Kent is a work of art". Wallpaper*. Retrieved 12 January 2022.

External links[edit]