News and Events
Private View held by Richard Andrews
Joan Fontcuberta: Stranger Than Fiction is the first major exhibition in Britain of work by the contemporary Catalan artist. It is an eye-opening collection of photographs and artefacts in which Joan Fontcuberta subtly questions the use of the photographic image as evidence, by combining visually compelling and mischievous narratives with an acute, deadpan humour. Using the visual languages of journalism, advertising, museum displays and scientific journals, these convincing yet subversive works are an investigation into photography's authority and our inclination to believe what we see. The exhibition features some of Fontcuberta's best known works, including photographs, film, dioramas, scientific reports and related ephemera. A youth under the Franco dictatorship and an early career in advertising piqued Fontcuberta's interest in the use of the photographic image as a storytelling tool, which developed into a life-long creative interrogation of photography's veracity. In constantly shifting his methods to encompass new developments in photographic practice, Fontcuberta remains one of the most innovative practitioners in his field. With highlights including astonishing photographs of mermaid fossils and incredible reports on mysterious fauna, the display presents six conceptually independent narratives from Fontcuberta's body of work, a visual universe in which the real and the imagined combine to startling effect. Science Museum, London, until 9th November.
American Impressionism: A New Vision explores the impact of French Impressionism on American artists in the late 19th century. The exhibition brings together nearly 80 paintings by some of America's most celebrated artists, such as James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt. It also features the work of a number of significant artists who are less well known in Britain, among them Theodore Robinson, Childe Hassam, William Merritt Chase, Edmund Tarbell and John Twachtman. Paintings by the major French artists Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot and Edgar Degas demonstrate how closely the Impressionists worked with their American colleagues. The exhibition reflects the impact of Impressionism on both Americans working abroad in the 1880s, and those working at home in the following decade. Cassatt and Sargent, who cultivated friendships with Monet and Degas, participated in the development and promotion of this revolutionary new way of painting. More than any other American artist working in France Mary Cassatt helped to shape Impressionism through her friendships with Degas and Morisot, participating in four Impressionist exhibitions. In America, Hassam, Chase, Tarbell and Twachtman adapted Impressionism by responding to the new subject matter, compositions and colours of the movement in scenes depicting their native country and creating a new vision for an American audience. Their subjects included New York parks, East Coast beaches, New England villages and the image of the American woman. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, until 19th October.
Time: Tattoo Art Today features original artworks by some of the world's most influential contemporary tattoo artists. The exhibition presents specially commissioned works from 70 tattoo artists including Ed Hardy, Horiyoshi III, Paul Booth, Rose Hardy, Chris Garver, Ami James, Morg, Theo Mindell, Fillip Leu and Mister Cartoon, curated by fellow tattoo artist Claudia De Sabe and publisher Miki Vialetto. Each artist created a completely new work on the theme of Time, working with any medium and on any canvas apart from their usual surface of skin. The resulting collection ranges from oil painting, watercolours and traditional Japanese silk painting to paint layering on real skulls, airbrush and bronze sculpture. Time and all it infers (such as life and death) is a classic, common motif in tattoo art, expressed through a vast variety of iconographic combinations. For example, the popular inkings of butterflies, blossoms and the handled cross signify life, while memento moris such as skulls or the goddess Kali denote death. Many of these symbols are present in the striking original pieces displayed here. Somerset House, London, until 5th October.
The State Rooms Of Buckingham Palace, the 19 rooms that are used to receive and entertain guests of State on ceremonial and official occasions, have once again been thrown open to visitors. They are furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude; sculpture by Canova and Chantrey; Sevres porcelain; and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world. This year the special display is Royal Childhood, offering an unprecedented glimpse into life as a young member of the royal family growing up at Buckingham Palace over the last 250 years. It brings together objects from well-loved toys and treasured family gifts to tiny childhood outfits, as well as previously unseen photographs and film footage. Visitors can also enjoy a walk in the 39 acre garden with its 19th century lake, which provides a haven for wild life in the centre of London, including 30 different species of birds, and more than 350 different wild flowers, and offers views of the Garden Front of the Palace. Buckingham Palace until 28th September.
Ming: The Golden Empire examines the era that was the starting point of modern China. The exhibition comprises a collection of around 150 original artefacts that introduce key aspects of the Ming dynasty, the world's largest, wealthiest, most cultured, and most populous empire, focussing on the remarkable cultural, technological and economic achievements of the period. Exquisite luxury items and rare objects reveal the wealth and opulence of the Ming imperial court, which lasted 276 years, from 1368 to 1644. These include the iconic blue and white porcelain with which the Ming period is synonymous, as well as sumptuous silk textiles, gold and jades, and rare examples of elaborately enamelled cloisonne. A richly coloured painting from the early Ming illustrates the symbolic grandeur and geometrical order of Beijing's newly-built Forbidden City, the imperial seat for emperors and their households for the following five centuries, and the world's largest palace complex. Artworks by leading painters reveal the preoccupations of Ming society's cultural elite, from courtesans to dreams of escape from official life. The Ming was also a period of social transformation, resulting in a thriving consumer culture in which many forms of visual art and handicraft flourished. Beautiful furniture, musical instruments, Buddhist artefacts and items of personal adornment bring to life the elegant tastes and concerns of this gilded age. Investigating the prosperous Ming economy and its effects on social order and cultural systems during the 16th and 17th centuries, the exhibition also reflects on the legacy the Ming has left Chinese culture. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 19th October.
Louis Kahn: The Power Of Architecture is an assessment of the visionary architect, expert manipulator of form and light, and creator of uniquely dramatic buildings. The exhibition explores Louis Kahn's work and legacy through architectural models, original drawings, notebooks, travel sketches, photographs and films, bringing to life his singular career and diverse output. Although regarded as one of America's foremost architects, Kahn nonetheless realised few buildings in his lifetime and died practically bankrupt, but his search for an architecture that grows out of a sense of place seems more important than ever. Kahn drew on a wide range of sources, from ancient ruins to the work of Le Corbusier, using innovations in construction techniques to design modern buildings that also project an elemental, primitive power. He was a perfectionist and an artist, who also believed that architects have an important social responsibility. All of Kahn's important projects are extensively documented, from his early urban planning concepts and single-family houses to late works such as the Roosevelt Memorial, not completed until after his death. Kahn's greatest masterpieces all take the form of inspiring institutions: The Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, designed to be 'a facility worthy of a visit by Picasso'; the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, a showcase for his ability to work with light; and the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, testament to the impact of his monumental style. Design Museum, Shad Thames, London, until 12th October.
The Art And Science Of Exploration 1768-80 features paintings, prints and drawings by specially commissioned artists on Captain Cook's 18th century voyages of discovery. When James Cook's first expedition to the South Pacific returned to Britain in 1771, he brought back accounts and images of extraordinary lands, people, flora and fauna. Returning twice more over the following decade, Cook established a pattern for voyages of discovery that combined scientific investigation with artistic responses to the unfamiliar lands that they encountered, forever influencing how the British public saw the Pacific. The exhibition includes portraits, landscapes and scenes of encounters with Pacific islanders, such as George Stubbs's 'Portrait of a Large Dog (Dingo)' and 'The Kongouro from New Holland (Kangaroo)'; William Hodges's 'Tahiti Revisited', 'A View of the Cape of Good Hope, Taken on the Spot, From On Board the Resolution', and 'View of Resolution Bay in the Marquesas', showing how artists adapted the techniques and styles learnt in Europe to depict the exotic scenes for a British audience; John Webber's 'Poedua, the Daughter of Orio', one of the earliest portraits of a Polynesian woman by a European painter; and some of the 30,000 dried plants and 955 botanical watercolours, prints and drawings by Sydney Parkinson. The exhibition shows the important role that artists had on the Cook voyages, producing images that worked both as scientific records of carefully planned exploration, as well as sensitive representations of an unfolding new world. The Queen's House, Romney Road, Greenwich, London SE10, continuing.
Barbara Hepworth: Within The Landscape focuses on one of the greatest British artists of the 20th century, for whom landscape provided unending inspiration. From the rough and rugged West Riding landscape experienced in her childhood to the idyllic views of St Ives in Cornwall, for Barbara Hepworth landscape was formative, multifaceted and constantly stimulating. Her commentary on the subject is extensive, and the exhibition draws on her words and her photographs alongside her sculptures, to give a unique insight into what she was both inspired by, and how she contributed to a perception of landscape. The exhibition contains some of Hepworth's most iconic sculptures including 'Stringed Figure (Curlew)', 'Torso III (Galatea)', 'Oval Form (Trezion)', 'Configuration Phira', 'Summer Dance', 'Sea Form (Porthmeor)', 'Curved Form - Trevalgan', 'Moon Form' and maquette for 'Winged Figure', alongside prints, photographs and ephemera detailing her life long relationship with the landscape. Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, until 28th September.
Seduced! Fans & The Art Of Advertising offers a fascinating overview of the history of advertising fans. In the days before glossy magazine campaigns and slick TV commercials, brands relied on more humble ways of advertising their wares. From restaurants and perfumeries to haute couture fashion houses, the fan became the promotional tool of choice in the early 20th century. By 1930, even luxury champagne producer Moet & Chandon was producing designs. The exhibition reveals how commercial art - a dynamic, seductive art form - emerged to play a pivotal role in generating and sustaining a culture of consumption among the growing middle classes. Focusing on the interwar period and the aesthetics of Art Deco, the exhibition includes a colourful array of fans made to promote leisure activities such as travel, dining and shopping. Luxury brands are equally well represented with fans advertising champagne, perfume and haute-couture. Many of the fans exhibited feature designs by masters of commercial art including Georges Barbier, Leonetto Cappiello and René Gruau, whose striking pochoir and chromolithographic prints evoke a remarkable age of decadence, glamour and exoticism, revealing how these seemingly innocuous items actually sparked the beginnings of modern consumerist culture. The Fan Museum, 12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London SE10, until 28th September.
The Human Factor: The Figure In Contemporary Sculpture brings together major works by 25 leading international artists who have fashioned new ways of using the figure in contemporary sculpture. In addressing the body, the most frequently revisited subject in art's history, these artists confront the question of how we represent the 'human' today. The exhibition focuses on sculpture that explores a variety of social, political, cultural and historical concerns and incorporates diverse references ranging from science fiction to war monuments, from popular photography to art history. Highlights include: Paul McCarthy's 'That Girl', consisting of three hyper-realistic casts of actress Elyse Poppers sitting in slightly different postures, plus a four-channel video documenting the intricate fabrication of the sculptures using processes at the cutting edge of special effects technology; Katharina Fritsch's theatrical 'space pictures', featuring life-sized cast figures in front of large screen prints of exterior scenes that function like photo backdrops; Pierre Huyghe's Untilled', which transforms an art deco sculpture of a reclining nude by replacing its head with a living beehive, creating an eerie hybrid of nature and culture; and Cady Noland's 'Bluewald', which comprises an enlarged news photo of Lee Harvey Oswald, after being shot by Jack Ruby, which has been silkscreened onto an aluminium panel propped up like a carnival shooting target with a crude wooden support and perforated with several large circular 'bullet' holes around Oswald's midsection and face. Hayward Gallery until 7th September.
Mammoths: Ice Age Giants offers a journey through the world of some of the largest creatures ever to have walked the earth. The exhibition provides a glimpse into the Ice Age world of mammoths, mastodons and their relatives, through life-sized models, original skeletons, skull casts, fossil jaws, teeth and tusks. Its centrepiece is the most complete woolly mammoth ever found, the first time the one month old infant has been shown in Western Europe. The baby mammoth is 85cm tall and 130cm long, similar in size to a large dog. She was discovered in the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia in 2007, and is thought to have died 42,000 years ago. Her body was buried in wet clay and mud, which then froze, preserving it until she was found by reindeer herder. She is thought to have been healthy when she died, so scientists still research her to understand mammoth biology and behaviour. Although she has lost most of her woolly undercoat and hair, most of her body remains intact, and remnants of her mother's milk are still in her stomach. In addition to the actual baby mammoth there are models of a fully grown woolly mammoth, the spiral-tusked Columbian mammoth, their island-dwelling relative the dwarf mammoth, the mastodon, the sabre-tooth cat and the giant cave bear. The exhibition charts the key differences between mammoths and mastodons, revealing that mastodons were shorter and stockier than mammoths, with thicker bones and differently shaped tusks, as well as making comparisons with their present-day descendant, the elephant. It also explores the animals' social behaviour and ecology based on fossil evidence. In addition, the display examines how these creatures evolved, considers how they finally went extinct, and unearths the latest research into whether they can ever be resurrected. Natural History Museum until 7th September.
Making Colour traces the history of making colour in Western paintings from the Middle Ages to the end of the 19th century. The exhibition brings together the worlds of art and science to explain how artists overcame the technical challenges involved in creating colour. It charts the material problems faced by artists in achieving their painterly aims, the breakthroughs they struggled for, and the difficulties they faced in creating works of art that were both beautiful and enduring. The display examines the origins of paint sources, be it the natural world or human invention, and their supply, manufacture and application, as well as their permanence and colour effect. It begins by examining how theories of colour, such as an awareness of primary colour, or of the colour spectrum, have influenced painters' use of pigments, and their quest for new materials. The journey runs from lapis lazuli to cobalt blue, ancient vermilion to bright cadmium red, through yellow, orange, purple and verdigris to deep green viridian, and on to gold and silver, in a series of colour-themed rooms. Among the works and objects on view are Monet's 'Lavacourt under Snow', JMW Turner's paintbox, van Dyck's 'Lady Elizabeth Thimbelby and her Sister', an elaborate majolica plate portraying Vulcan at his forge with Venus, Sassoferrato's 'The Virgin in Prayer', lapis lazuli figurines, Degas's 'La Coiffure' and Masaccio's 'Saints Jerome and John the Baptist'. The exhibition is complemented by a scientific experiment that introduces a new world of contemporary and scientific thought on colour, dealing with human colour perception, and the degree to which it is individually variable. It also considers the ways in which the brain processes different visual information, for example in lighting paintings, and the impact that this has on our perception of colour. National Gallery until 7th September.