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The Human Touch

Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 - 17:00 | Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays: 12:00 - 17:00
Closed 24th December to 27th December 2021 and 31st December 2021 to 1st January 2022 inclusive closed Gallery closures and collection updates

This exhibition is now in our archive.

Touch is our first sense. Through touch we make art, stake a claim to what we own and those we love, express our faith, our belief, our anger. Touch is how we leave our mark and find our place in the world; touch is how we connect.

Drawing on works of art spanning four thousand years and from across the globe, this exhibition explores the fundamental role of touch in human experience, and offers new ways of looking. The curators explore anatomy and skin; the relationship between the brain, hand, and creativity; touch, desire and possession; ideological touch; reverence and iconoclasm. A final section collects a range of reflections, historic and contemporary, on touch.

Objects range from ancient Egyptian limestone sculpture to medieval manuscripts and panel paintings, from devotional and spiritual objects to love tokens and faith rings from all over the world. Drawings, paintings, prints and sculptures by Raphael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Carracci, Hogarth, Turner, Rodin, Degas, and Kollwitz will be re-analysed, seen alongside work by contemporary artists Judy Chicago, Frank Auerbach, Richard Long, the Chapman Brothers, Richard Rawlins, Donald Rodney and others.

The events of 2020 have made us newly alive to both the value and the dangers of touch, and many of the one hundred and fifty or so objects in the show and this accompanying catalogue have become doubly powerful in the context of the pandemic. This exploration of our most fundamental sense is urgent, timely and resonant.

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Exhibition films

Exhibition details

Selected objects from the Exhibition

An image of Shekel

Shekel

CM.QC.118-R

An image of Valentine card

Valentine card

P.14545-R

An image of Print

Print

P.9-1978

Associated curators

Associated Galleries

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