Anthony Whishaw RA, The Blind Leading The Blind II

The Blind Leading The Blind II, 1987-90

Anthony Whishaw RA (b. 1930)

RA Collection: Art

This is one of several brooding compositions that Whishaw created in the late 1980s. Occasional patches of white provide only brief moments of relief in the artist’s otherwise dark colour palette, while the title further imbues the work with a sense of futility. Set within an expansive landscape, a group of travellers look toward a river which perhaps symbolises the River Styx. This is one of a number of works in which Whishaw considers the journey of life.

Whishaw often draws on fragmented memories. With the inclusion of animals in the foreground, this composition is reminiscent of the type of rural landscape Whishaw would have glimpsed while riding across Spain on his Lambretta decades earlier.

Created from collage and acrylic on canvas, the work has a tactile and expressive quality that is characteristic of Whishaw's later practice. The wide, thin proportions of the canvas recall the formation of Goya’s 'Black Paintings'. Created between 1819 and 1823, this series of darkly painted, bleak subjects explores haunting themes around humanity. Whishaw recalls his ‘wonderment and thrill on seeing Goya's Black paintings in the Prado’ which, as the artist explains, ‘inspired my lifelong involvement with a long horizontal format’.

Further Reading:

Object details

The Blind Leading The Blind II
Object type
Copyright owner
Acrylic and collage on canvas

2000 mm x 4290 mm x 30 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Given by Anthony Whishaw RA May 2019
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