Aberdeen has a unique portrait collection. The collection was initiated by Alexander MacDonald (1831 — 1884), a local granite merchant and collector of fine art, who commissioned over ninety uniformly sized portrait heads. With continued acquisitions of portraits, the entire collection includes notable paintings by Raeburn, Hogarth, Ramsay and Reynolds. The impressive collection of modern work includes pieces by David Bomberg, Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, Francis Bacon, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Bridget Riley. Aberdeen has a strong contemporary collection with a focus on metalwork, alongside pieces by Damien Hirst, Mat Collishaw and Richard Wilson.
Until 2006 Aberdeen was part of the National Collecting Scheme for Scotland, an initiative that enabled the acquisition of contemporary works for Scottish museums and art galleries. Aberdeen actively collected contemporary metalwork focusing upon makers from the Pacific Rim, resulting in a strong collection of work by makers including Robert Foster, Hiroshi Suzuki and Koji Hatakeyama. The permanent collection is complemented by a programme of contemporary exhibitions by artists of international standing.
Editor’s note: The largest art gallery in northern Scotland, this is an imposing classical building located in Aberdeen’s historic granite city centre. An impressive roof-lit central atrium, around which a series of galleries are situated on two levels, houses the significant and growing permanent contemporary collection, including works by Damien Hirst, Alison Watt, Kenny Hunter, Louise Hopkins and Gavin Turk.
Reviewed by: Hilary Nicoll