Light: Works from Tate’s Collection to open at ACMI in June

TATE-James-Turrell-Raemar-Blue-1969-photo-by-Chen-HaoIn an Australian exclusive, ACMI will present Light: Works from Tate’s Collection – a major exhibition of more than 70 works from the national collection of renowned British art institution, Tate from June 2022.

Curated by Tate, UK and drawing from its prestigious collection, Light features over 70 works spanning 200 years of art history including painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, kinetic art, installation and the moving image.

“This is a rare opportunity to experience the expansive collection of one of Britain’s most famous cultural institutions right here in Melbourne. ACMI is proud to present a treasure trove of artworks inspired by a phenomenon so fundamental to moving image creation,” said ACMI Director and CEO Katrina Sedgwick.

Through its exploration of light as both a subject and a medium this extraordinary exhibition enables our visitors to explore surprising and enlightening interconnections across time and artform.”

The theme of light has been refracted through the lens of art in countless ways: from the sublime to the intimate, from the spiritual to the scientific.

Light celebrates groundbreaking moments as artists from the past 200 years have captured or harnessed light in their work – from Joseph Mallord William Turner and Claude Monet to James Turrell and Tacita Dean. All are connected by their fascination with the qualities of light as both material and subject.

The challenge of capturing this phenomenon has spurred artists across time to develop innovative techniques and inspired moving image makers, who use light and shadow as the building blocks of their craft. French artist, filmmaker and writer Jean Cocteau said: “Cinema is the form of modern writing whose ink is light.”

Presented alongside ACMI’s award winning permanent exhibition The Story of the Moving Image – which places the 19th Century arrival of the moving image within a continuum spanning thousands of years of storytelling, this major touring exhibition from Tate explores how light has inspired artists, uniquely placing film in a broader art historical context.

Featured artists include the original and, in his time, radical ‘painter of light’ J. M. W. Turner, whose epic 1805 painting The Deluge will be seen for the first time in Australia alongside paintings by John Constable, Wassily Kandinsky, Bridget Riley, Joseph Albers and the atmospheric beauty and transient light effects captured by Impressionist painters Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Alfred Sisley.

These extraordinary paintings are juxtaposed against equally groundbreaking contemporary artists’ works. Olafur Eliasson’s spectacular rotating crystalline sculpture Stardust Particle (2014) refracts light onto the viewer’s body; Yayoi Kusama’s The Passing Winter (2005) reflects the viewer in its kaleidoscopic vision; James Turrell’s Raemar, Blue (1969) envelops the viewer in infinite and immersive light; and Tacita Dean’s 16mm film Lost at Sea (1996) transfixes with the materiality of light projected through celluloid.

“Winter in Melbourne will offer a radiant new experience from ACMI as they partner with Britain’s famed art institution Tate, to deliver their latest exhibition Light. The new exhibition offers even more reasons to explore the culture capital of Australia and everything it has to offer,” said Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson.

“Tate and ACMI hold a shared purpose to make art both accessible and relevant to diverse and growing audiences,” said Neil McConnon, Director of International Partnerships at Tate.

“It is with great anticipation that we see the exhibition Light, which includes many of Tate’s most prized artworks from the breadth of the collection, travel to Melbourne to be enjoyed by a new generation of visitors in another part of the world.”

Light is also flanked by two major, free exhibits. A major new commission by contemporary Australian artist Mikala Dwyer will be displayed in ACMI’s lightwell. Featuring a cluster of monumental transparent plastic forms suspended high above visitors’ heads, the work explores materiality, open ended narratives and the play of light.

Gallery 3 will feature another work from the Tate Collection, Light Music (1975), by Lis Rhodes, a major figure in the history of artists’ filmmaking in Britain. As one of the early proponents of expanded cinema, Rhodes positions audiences as both participants and spectators in a work revealing the experimental interrelationship of light and the moving image.

A program of talks, film screenings, performances, workshops and late-night events will accompany and extend the ideas explored in the exhibition, including masterclasses with leading cinematographers, performances, artist talks, magic lantern and 16mm presentations and more.

Originally curated for the Museum of Art, Pudong in Shanghai, Light: Works from Tate’s Collection comes to ACMI from Buk-Seoul Museum of Art, Korea; and is presented as part of the Victorian Government’s Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series.

Light: Works from Tate’s Collection
Gallery 4 – ACMI, Federation Square, Melbourne
Exhibition: 16 June – 13 November 2022
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: James Turrell, Raemar, Blue, 1969, Tate: Presented by the Tate Americas Foundation, partial purchase and partial gift of Doris J. Lockhart 2013. © James Turrell – photo by Chen Hao