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’Rank’: picturing the social order 1516 – 2009

Leeds Art Gallery              
Exhibition dates: 11 February - 26 April 2009

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and offsite    Exhibition dates: 15 May  - 11 July 2009

Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool:  
Exhibition dates: 24 July - 12 September 2009

Here more about the exhibition on the special edition of the BBC's Radio 4's 'Thinking Aloud' programme:

Buy the Book via Cornerhouse Publications

Image details:  Abraham Bosse and Thomas Hobbes '1660 print  'Leviathan',
on loan from British Museum

"2009 will be the year when the question of how
society should be arranged will cease to be an idle,
abstract topic dwelt upon by ivory-tower intellectuals
and will instead enter the workaday mainstream
with a vengeance." Alain de Botton, December 2008

Who do we think 'we' are? 'Rank' asks: how have we
imagined the shape of our society? It is the first ever
exhibition to examine how British artists - and many
others - have represented the shape of their society
from the Renaissance to the present. It brings together
nearly 100 contributors, placing masterpieces from
almost all England's national collections - the British
Library, Tate, British Museum, V&A and Arts Council
Collection - next to images made for the urban poor
from the Working Class Movement Library, and those for
Victorian middle-class collectors from libraries
and archives. 'Rank' reveals the shape of our society
through objects from different social strata, as well
as representations of 'ranks', 'classes', 'orders'
and 'estates'.

WP Frith's 'Derby Day', shows what was described as
"a gathering clearly subversive of the proper distinctions
which should always in a well-governed country
exist between class and class." 'Rank' mixes objects
which occupy different positions in our hierarchy of
images. It also juxtaposes works by some of the
greatest names in British art with new research from
academic experts and public agencies, so that pictures
of our myths and stereotypes of our national life sit
alongside those based on hard fact. All seek to visualise
the ways in which our societies are and have been
ordered and classified.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 144 page fully
illustrated catalogue with essays by the journalist
Polly Toynbee, historian Professor Keith Wrightson,
geographer Professor Daniel Dorling, and sociologist
Gordon Fyfe.

The exhibition will tour to the Grundy Art Gallery,
Blackpool, from 24 July - 12 September 2009.

AOC Architecture (Tom Coward, Daisy Froud, Vincent Lacovara, Geoff Shearcroft)
'Polyopoly', 2008

Chad McCail: 'Robots run Zombies for Wealthy Parasites', 2002
Collection the artist

William Powell Frith
'Derby Day' 1856-58
Tate, Bequeathed by Jacob Bell 1859

List of contributors in chronological order: (historical artists)
Fra. Didacus Valades (active 1570s)
Thomas More (1478 - 1535)
Ambrosius Holbein (c.1494 - c.1519)
Clement Walker (1595 - 1651)
Thomas Hobbes (1588 -1679)
with Abraham Bosse (c1602/4-1676)
John Overton (active 1630s)
John Goddard with Richard Dey (active 1650s)
John Lecester with John Hancock (c.1602 /4 - 1676)
Gillis van Tilborch (c.1625 -1678)
Gregory King (1648 - 1712)
Hubert-François Gravelot (1699 - 1773)
James Gillray (1756 - 1815)
Charles Williams (1793 - 1830)
William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)
Charles Jameson Grant (active 1820s)
George Cruikshank (1792 -1878)
Ernest Jones (1819 -1869)
John Moore (active 1830s)
Thomas Rowlandson (1756 - 1827)
J Dickinson (active 1830s)
Fred Ellis (1885 -1965)
R.J. Hamerton (1822 -1875)
John Leech (1817 - 1864)
Henry Mayhew (1812 -1887)
William Powell Frith (1819 -1909)
Sir John Tenniel (1820 -1914)
George Bernard O'Neill (1828 -1917)
General William Booth (1829 -1912)
Charles Booth (1840 -1916)
Gustave Doré (1832 -1883)
Walter Crane (1845 -1915)
Théophile Steinlen (1859 -1923)
'Cynicus' / Martin Anderson (1854 -1932)
Will Dyson (1880 -1938)
Eric Gill (1882 -1940)

Fra. Didacus Valades: Known as 'the great chain of being' from 'Rhetorica Christiana', 1579. British Library

George Cruikshank: 'The British Bee Hive: A Penny Political Picture for the People', 1840 / 1867. Victoria and Albert Museum. Given by Mrs George Cruikshank

Ernest Jones: Untitled prison drawing (known as 'the factory system as hell') 1848-50,
British Library

List of contributors in chronological order continued (living artists):
Gerhard Richter (1932 -)
Alasdair Gray (1934 -)
Victor Burgin (1941 -)
Jenny Holzer (1950 -)
Dexter Dalwood (1960 -)
Simon Bedwell (1963 -)
Heath Bunting (1966 -)
Chad McCail (1961 -)
Evan Holloway (1967 -)
Misteraitch (1967 -)
Rory Macbeth (1968 -)
Markus Vater (1970 -)
Mustafa Hulusi (1971 - )
AOC Architecture (Tom Coward, Daisy Froud, Vincent Lacovara, Geoff Shearcroft) (b.1971 - 1974)
Josh On (1972 -)
Benrik (Ben Carey, b. 1973, Henrik Delehag, b.1973)
Mark Titchner (1973 -)
Daniela Rossell (1973 -)
Nina Beier (1976 -)
and Marie Lund (1975 -)
Eva Stenram (1976 -)
Ben Branagan (b.1978)
and Gareth Holt (b.1978)
Ant Macari (1976 -)
Darren Cullen (1983 -)
Adam Latham (1981 -)
Victoria Kochowski (1984 -)
Ruth Ewan (1980 -)
I Love Capitalism (active 2000s)

Gerhard Richter: 'Elizabeth I', 1966
Tate, Purchased 1988

Victor Burgin (British, 1941- )
'Possession', 1976
Arts Council Collection, South Bank Centre, London

London School of Economics
Sheffield University: Social and Spatial Inequalities
Research unit
University of California-Riverside
The Economist
Financial Times
Sunday Times
Daily Telegraph
International Workers of the World

Social and Spatial Inequalities Research unit, University of Sheffield
Global Wealth Distribution in 0001

Social and Spatial Inequalities Research unit, University of Sheffield
Global Wealth Distribution in 2015