The East Wing Biennial is a contemporary student-led art exhibition at The Courtauld Institute of Art. Based in Somerset House, The Courtauld is an international leader for the study of Art History and Conservation. The accompanying gallery houses a world-renowned collection including works by Rubens and Van Gogh.
The 13th exhibition endeavoured to do something new. London based student artists had their works seen in the world-renowned Courtauld Institute within the historic surrounds of Somerset House.
“Faced with seminar rooms of such bareness, that the eye and mind revolted… I decided, by hook or by crook, to find some contemporary art to destroy all the vestiges of such nudity, and by this act restore to its rightful position art in everyday surroundings” — Joshua Compston, 1991
This was the vision of Joshua Compston, student at the Courtauld Institute 1989-1992 and founder of East Wing. Titled the Courtauld Loan Collection, the first show opened on 27th November 1991. Established icons of the British Art scene including Gilbert and George, Howard Hodgkin and Damien Hirst were part of the original exhibitors making their graduate debut at the initial East Wing Biennial.
Whether consciously or not, Compston provided a legacy for students of the Courtauld Institute, with the organisation of a biennial show occurring for the last twenty years. Never losing sight of the original concept of East Wing, the shows have progressed and bloomed into the vast project that we see today. Over the years themes such as the transitory nature of art and the struggle of inner and outer self-have been explored through a whole host of media crammed into the labyrinthine layout of the building.
For further information about past exhibitions and sponsors please see our ARCHIVE.