Picasso, Pacheco, Auerbach and Bomberg – just some of the artists who feature in the Thoughts on Portraiture exhibition. Through highlights of the modern art collection, explore how artists have used a wide range of styles and imagery, including unusual animal and mythological references, to interpret complex human emotion and experiences.

The display will explore these themes and what they mean to us today, revealing new research into artworks in the Birmingham collection, including pieces by Pablo Picasso, Frank Auerbach, Francis Newton Souza and the star piece, Man and his Sheep by Ana Maria Pacheco. This striking installation has not been on public display for over 5 years. Pacheco’s oil painting In Illo Tempore I (1994) can also be seen on display. 

Two works by the great Pablo Picasso join the display and showcase artworks from the Vollard Suite, from an intricate etching on paper of a monstrous mythological beast in Winged Bull Watched by Four Children (1934) to Portrait of Vollard I (1937,) which uses lighter and darker shades to depict different characteristics of Ambroise Vollard, the art dealer who commissioned the suite. The delicate works on paper are unlikely to be on display again soon and are not to be missed.

The exhibition continues with the rare opportunity to see artworks that have never been on public display before, including an emotionally honest self-portrait by German expressionist painter, Walter Gramatté and a detailed etching by Frank Auerbach which depicts his friend, the art historian Michael Podro.

Free exhibition, in gallery 13.