Art, Power, Diplomacy

Government Art Collection: The Untold Story

Penny Johnson, Julia Toffolo, Richard Dorment, Cornelia Parker, Andrew Renton, Adrian George, Nicholas Serota (Foreword)

    ISBN: 978 1 85759 691 5

    Size: 248 x 200 mm / 7.75 x 9.75 in.

    Binding: softcover

    Pages: 192

    In association with:

    Date published: May, 2011

    UK £20 /US $35


  • Published to coincide with the first exhibition of its kind in the history of the Government Art Collection, opening at the Whitechapel Gallery in June 2011 with a subsequent exhibition tour to Birmingham and Belfast
  • Foreword by Sir Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate
  • International list of contributors includes artists, critics, cultural theorists and curators


The Government Art Collection consists of approximately 13,500 works of art by mostly British artists in a variety of media including paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, textiles and video works, dating from the 16th century to the present day. The diverse nature of the collection, its global reach, its role in promoting British art and culture and its 113-year history come together to create a remarkable story. Works are displayed in 450 locations worldwide, including 10 and 11 Downing Street, Government buildings in Whitehall and diplomatic posts abroad. The wide range of artists represented include John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George, Barbara Hepworth, Damien Hirst, Lucian Freud, William Hogarth, Runa Islam, Paul Nash, Cornelia Parker, Grayson Perry, Mark Titchner and Donald Urquhart. This, the first publication of its kind on the Government Art Collection, presents the fascinating history of this wonderfully eclectic collection, providing an insight into its changing and expanding role since its inception, while also showcasing a wide range of key works alongside a wealth of contextual material.

Author information

Richard Dorment is an art historian, curator, writer, art critic of The Daily Telegraph and a former member of the Advisory Committee of the Government Art Collection (GAC). Adrian George is Curator, Collections Projects at the GAC. Penny Johnson is Director of the GAC. Cornelia Parker is an acclaimed British artist whose work is in the GAC. Andrew Renton is an independent curator, writer, art consultant and Reader in Art at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London and current member of the GAC’s Advisory Committee. Sir Nicholas Serota is Director, Tate. Julia Toffolo is Deputy Director of the GAC.