Alumnus Hew Locke is selected for The Met's Facade Commission

03 May 2022

Figure covered in flowers and gold chains with just eyes showing through.
Hew Locke, detail of a Congo Man
Type: Text
Category: Our graduates

Esteemed Falmouth alumnus Hew Locke has been announced as an artist for The Met Museum’s 2022 Facade Commission.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced that artist Hew Locke has been selected to create new works for The Met Fifth Avenue's facade niches, the third in a new series of site-specific commissions for the exterior of the Museum. The Facade Commission: Hew Locke, Gilt will be on view 16 September, 2022 through 22 May, 2023.

Since completing his BA in Fine Art at Falmouth College of Art (now Falmouth University) in 1988, the Guyanese-British artist has found international acclaim. His work is represented in many collections including those of the The Government Art Collection, The Pérez Art Museum Miami, The Tate Gallery, The Arts Council of England, The National Trust, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Brooklyn Museum, New York, 21c, The New Art Gallery Walsall, The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Imperial War Museum, The British Museum and The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds.

The Facade Commission is part of a new series of contemporary commissions at The Met in which the Museum invites artists to create new works of art, establishing a dialogue between the artist's practice, The Met collection, the physical Museum, and The Met's audiences. 

Hew Locke creates emotionally powerful and visually striking work that will stop you in your tracks.

Hew’s project, Gilt, will comprise of four sculptures fashioned into the shape of whole and fragmented trophies that reference the history of works in The Met collection.

Rooted in his study of both art history and political history, Locke’s practice is premised on appropriation, juxtaposition, and recombination. Assemblage, in which disparate materials from disparate places and times collide, is key to his work. 

As with Gilt, Locke’s primary materials are readymade: he relies heavily on an inventory of found images and symbols, from trophies and coats of arms to works of art, warships, public sculptures and so on. Almost all are associated in one way or another with power, migration, conflict, conquest, or transnational cultural exchange.

Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met, said, “Hew Locke creates emotionally powerful and visually striking work that will stop you in your tracks. This site-responsive commission for the Museum’s facade will be informed by Locke’s deep knowledge of The Met’s collection and will reference the institution in ways both direct and indirect, recovering and connecting histories across continents, oceans, and time periods. We look forward to unveiling what is sure to be a stunning and thought-provoking commission this September.”

Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chair of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Met, added, “Hew Locke uses a delirious aesthetic of abundance and excess to reflect themes of deep urgency in the past and present, including wealth, imperial power, and prestige, astutely critiquing their visual iconography through reclamation. Locke’s work deftly interweaves the fine lines between theatricality, visual beauty, and critical insight."

The exhibition is made possible by the Jane and Robert Carroll Fund, Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, and Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky. 


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