British Marine Art at Yale
The recently refurbished setting of the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA), a building designed by Louis I. Kahn that opened in 1977, elegantly and minimally frames its “Spreading Canvas: Eighteenth-Century British Marine Painting” and “Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA)” exhibitions, on view through early December. The YCBA collection contains many works of art, books and manuscripts from across Great Britain’s rich history, including contemporary works that relate directly to Shonibare’s exhibition in terms of corresponding time periods. Audiences have a chance to enhance their visit by meandering through galleries, cross-referencing content in relation to both shows that are highlighted in this article.
Yinka Shonibare’s cameo exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art features contemporary artwork narratively engaged with the historical personage of Admiral Lord Nelson. Curated by Martina Droth, its focus is on the artist’s “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle,” commissioned for the Fourth Plinth series and first shown in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2010.
The exhibit gives a view of the making of the sculpture. It includes the preliminary model for “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle” plus films, related photographic work and the artist’s 18th century-period-inspired costumes, which function within narratives. Audiences will also notice the visually prominent use of wax resist fabrics, associated with contemporary Afro-centric identity, in the ships sails, costumes and other aspects of Shonibare’s revisionist aesthetic.