Falls the Shadow: Recent British and European Art: 1986 Hayward Annual

Hayward Gallery

Hayward Gallery, 9 April – 15 June 1986

Falls the Shadow: Recent British and European Sculpture was the last in the series of Hayward Annuals. Begun in 1977, these annual exhibitions looked at recent developments in British art, and were selected by a new committee of artists or critics each year.

The exhibition was selected by Barry Barker, then the Director of the John Hansard Gallery in Southampton, and Jon Thompson, then a lecturer at Goldsmiths College, London. It was the first Hayward Annual to include the work of European artists, and was also the first major international group show at the Hayward Gallery since Pier + Ocean, in 1980.

Through their selection of artists and artworks selected for Falls the Shadow Barry Barker and Jon Thompson attempted to map the affinities between current European and British art, drawing attention to ‘differences, shared interests and parallel developments’.

Much of the work exhibited in Falls the Shadow – including a brick sculpture by Per Kirkeby that was constructed on one of the Hayward sculpture terraces – had never previously been shown in the UK.

The works of art in Falls the Shadow were not arranged historically, nor did they attempt to present a survey. Instead, Barry Barker and Jon Thompson were keen to let the works ‘speak’ to one another, and conjure myriad references in the mind of the observer.

In the exhibition’s introduction and guide, the selectors discuss the title, which was taken from a line in the TS Eliot poem ‘The Hollow Men’. They explain that for them, this line and the poem from which it comes ‘vividly expresses the complexity of relationships which bring a work of art into being and shape its reception.’

Notes on the development of Falls the Shadow for an exhibitions sub-committee meeting in 1985.

Press, Audience Response and Legacy
Falls the Shadow was a provocative exhibition that despite ‘modest’ attendance figures of 17,370 received a large amount of critical attention. In a letter of thanks to lenders to the exhibition, the Director of the Hayward Gallery, Joanna Drew, stated that ‘All indications are that it will become an important touchstone for the future.’ 
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