The Sight of Sound
[image: Crazy Gondolier, oil on canvas, 1960, © Alan Davie]
Crazy Gondolier (1960)
Oil on canvas
© Alan Davie, purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund and the Derek Williams Trust, 2009
[image: Tom Phillips, Lesbia Waltz, screenprint, 1972, copyright Tom Phillips]
Tom Phillips, Lesbia Waltz, screenprint, 1972, copyright Tom Phillips
[image: Roger Fenton (1819 - 1869), Melrose Abbey, South Transept, 1856]
Roger Fenton (1819 - 1869)
Melrose Abbey, South Transept (1856), salt print
The Sight of Sound explores some of the ways music and musical ideas have influenced the visual arts in the 20th century - and vice versa.
Including art based on pieces of music and music based on works of art, the display at National Museum Cardiff (26 September-3 January 2010) shows visual artists using musical ideas or responding to ways of composing music.
A selection of music accompanies some of the works of art, to suggest alternative ways of looking and listening.
The Sight of Sound investigates the possibility of making previously unseen connections between the music and art in the mind of the listener/viewer.
In most cases the musical examples are a personal curator’s choice, made to reflect or complement the works of art, based on what we know of the artists’ own tastes and interests. We hope you enjoy deciding whether you would make the same connections!
Although the influence of music on art and vice versa has a long and varied history, The Sight of Sound focuses on the period (20th century and beyond) when artists began to directly address the abstract qualities of music, and how these could be applied to the immediacy of the painted surface.
Art and Music since 1900
In the late 19th century, artists such as Whistler took on the language of music, using titles such as ‘composition’, ‘symphony’ and ‘nocturne’ to indicate a preoccupation with colour and form over subject matter.
As art moved further away from the representational, into a new language of abstraction, visual artists increasingly searched for new means of expression by looking towards the medium of sound.
As the 20th century progressed, artists and musicians entered into more collaborative relationships. There are many examples of artists seeking to fuse sound and vision through installation, video work and performance.
Sight of Sound is part of Amguedda Cymru - National Museum Wales's year of music. As part of Music 09, the Respond project sees musicians working with curators to produce a musical response to the nation's collections.
One band, The Victorian English Gentlemans Club, were inspired by Roger Fenton's Melrose Abbey (pictured) which you can see in the exhibition. You can listen to the track in the gallery, and download it for free on our website.