News and Events
Private View held by Richard Andrews
Cosmos & Culture examines humanity's relationship with the stars through stories drawn from the whole of astronomy's history and from around the world. The exhibition reveals how telescopes and other instruments have opened our eyes to the huge variety of the cosmos, from Thomas Harriot's first sight of the Moon through a telescope 400 years ago to future plans for liquid mirror telescopes on the lunar surface, and from William Herschel's discovery of Uranus with a hand-built telescope to the international engineering project of the new infrared Herschel Space Observatory. It explores how people have tried to make sense of Earth's place in the universe through the constantly changing science of astronomy, with rare works including editions of Copernicus's 'On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres' and Galileo's 'Dialogue on the Two World Systems', showing how the understanding of our position in the cosmos has changed. Developments in astronomy across many cultures are represented by artefacts from around the globe, such as Arabian astrolabes, European astrological tables, Chinese globes, Byzantine calendars and Japanese star maps. The aesthetics of astronomy are shown in large-scale images from some of the world's great telescopes. Finally, the exhibition examines how astronomy has inspired - and been inspired by - fiction, particularly thoughts of extraterrestrial life, through books by H G Wells, Hal Clement and Arthur C Clarke, 1930s pulp fiction magazines such as 'Amazing Stories', and film and television titles including 'It Came From Outer Space' and 'Doctor Who', plus cosmic music from Debussy to the Grateful Dead. Science Museum until 14th December.
Cairo To Constantinople: Early Photographs Of The Middle East charts a Victorian royal journey. In 1862, the young Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, was sent on a 4 month educational tour of the Middle East, accompanied by the British photographer Francis Bedford. This exhibition documents his journey through the work of Bedford, the first photographer to travel on a royal tour. It explores the cultural and political significance Victorian Britain attached to the region, which was then as complex and contested as it remains today. The tour took the Prince to Egypt, Palestine and the Holy Land, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. During the journey he met rulers, politicians and other notable figures, and travelled in a manner unassociated with royalty, by horse and camping out in tents. On the royal party's return to England, Francis Bedford's work was displayed in what was described as 'the most important photographic exhibition that has hitherto been placed before the public'. Bedford's pictures are amongst the earliest photographs of many of the sites he visited, and are certainly the first of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Large plate cameras were the only available equipment at the time, the exposures were long, and the prints made directly from the negatives, which gives them a unique quality. Enhanced by the relatively simple optics of the lenses, his pictures have marvellous unity of light and an extraordinary depth of pin-sharp focus. In addition, there is a small display of the antiquities that the prince acquired during the trip. This is mainly a miscellany of Greek and Egyptian objects, but also includes some jewellery with ancient stones in modern settings, their Egyptian style a kind of proto Art Deco. The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, until 21st July.
Estuary brings together the work of 12 artists who have been inspired by the outer limits of the Thames where the river becomes the sea. With its dramatic landscape of desolate mudflats and saltmarshes, vast open skies, container ports, power stations and seaside resorts, the Estuary has long been a rich source of inspiration for artists and writers. Through film, photography, painting and printmaking, the contemporary artists featured in this exhibition offer new insight into this often overlooked, yet utterly compelling, environment and the people that live and work there. The works comprise 'Thames Film' by William Raban; 'Seafort Project' by Stephen Turner; 'Thames Painting: The Estuary' and 'Study for The Estuary' by Michael Andrews; 'Purfleet: from Dracula's Garden and Dagenham' by Jock McFadyen; 'Horizon (Five Pounds a Belgian)' by John Smith; 'Southend Pier 2011' from the series 'Pierdom' by Simon Roberts; 'Medway' by Christiane Baumgartner; '51º 29'.9" North - 0º11' East Rainham Barges' by Bow Gamelan Ensemble; 'The Golden Tide' by Gayle Chong Kwan; 'Jaunt' by Andrew Kotting; 'Thames Gateway' by Peter Marshall; and a new film by Nikolaj Larsen. The exhibition is a reminder of the changing face of this country's infrastructure, its natural landscape, and an insight into the Thames's own resultant shifting importance. Museum of London Docklands, West India Quay, E14, until 27th October.
Propaganda: Power And Persuasion explores how different states have used propaganda during the 20th and 21st centuries, in peace-time and in war. From safe sex to dictatorships, from the iconic to the everyday, the exhibition looks at the rationale, methods and effectiveness of state propaganda. With over 200 exhibits on display, including posters, films, flags, postage stamps, cartoons, leaflets, sounds and textbooks, ranging from chilling Nazi propaganda to everyday objects such as bank notes and badges that permeate our everyday lives, it reveals the many ways by which states have attempted to influence their citizens. There is emotional manipulation, be it the image of Liberty made up like a 1940s movie star, demanding money for the war effort on a second world war bond stamp, or the Russian cold war poster where the same American symbol of freedom is reduced to a surveillance tower for cops who peer at the populace through her eyes; the creation of personality cults around figures such as Hitler, Mao and Stalin; campaigns opting for a lighter touch, which include the potato man on the cover of a Dig For Victory-era cookbook; and 'soft propaganda' to promote healthy eating, motherhood and road safety. The exhibition also questions how propaganda is changing in a digital age and where it will go next. British Library, until 17th September.
Gertrude Jekyll: Landscape Gardener And Craftswoman explores the long and extraordinary life of one of the most influential garden designers of all time. The exhibition delves into Gertrude Jekyll's passions, and explores her multi-talents as a musician, composer, political activist and Suffragette, interior designer, visual artist, applied arts designer, embroiderer, silversmith, botanist, herbalist and garden designer. In all, Jekyll designed over 400 gardens, many in partnership with the eminent architect Edwin Lutyens, and moved garden design away from the highly formal Victorian garden towards a greater freedom of planting. In this she considered JMW Turner a major influence. From the scientific study of perfumes and the remedial qualities of plants, to the design of arts and crafts buildings, drawing-room furniture and textile hangings, Jekyll enjoyed the company of some of the greatest creative minds of late 19th and early 20th century Europe. These included, in addition to Lutyens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Lord Leighton, Frederic Watts, Hercules Brabazon and Edward Poynter. Through letters, notebooks and photographs the exhibition documents these encounters and provides a rich contextual background to Jekyll's vision and achievements. The Lightbox, Chobham Road, Woking, Surrey, until 8th September.
Leon Kossoff: London Landscapes provides a unique opportunity to see drawings and related paintings offering a distinctive view of the capital over the last 60 years. London is the city where Leon Kossoff was born and grew up, and which he has mined with extraordinary invention throughout his working life. The exhibition includes over 90 drawings and 10 paintings, spanning Kossoff's career, from City bomb sites of the early 1950's to recent drawings of Arnold Circus, a community of redbrick buildings off Shoreditch High Street, which were London's most radical experiment in social housing when they were unveiled in 1900. Kossoff's London opens up between these two poles to reveal his feel for quickness and change: buildings on the point of demolition; the railway network as the process of electrification begins; swimming pools swarming with children; streets; schools; grand London churches that serve successive waves of immigrants (Huguenot, Jewish, Bengali); stations; back gardens; and trains - overground and underground - carrying millions of Londoners in and out of the city, day after day, as the city transforms itself around them. These dark and dour landscapes chart an arc across north London from Willesden to Bethnal Green - not the most attractive parts of the city - in a historic sweep, and reveal an area that Kossoff has made peculiarly his own. Annely Juda Fine Art, 23 Dering Street, off New Bond Street, London W1, until 6th July.
In Fine Style: The Art Of Tudor And Stuart Fashion explores the sumptuous costume of British monarchs and their court during the 16th and 17th centuries. For the Tudor and Stuart elite, luxurious clothing was an essential component of court life. Garments and accessories, and the way in which they were worn, conveyed important messages about wealth, gender, age, social position, marital status and religion. Royalty and the elite were the tastemakers of the day, often directly influencing the styles of fashionable clothing. High-maintenance and impractical clothing conveyed a clear message to the viewer that the subject of a portrait enjoyed a privileged lifestyle, and had plenty of spare time to devote to the pursuit of fashion and the lengthy process of dressing. Through the evidence of portraiture, the exhibition traces changing tastes in fashionable attire and the spread of fashion through the royal courts of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. Costume and paintings were frequently commissioned to mark important events, such as elevation to a knightly order, marriage or a little boy's transition from skirts to breeches at the onset of adulthood. Most elite clothing was custom-made and far more expensive than the equivalent today. The exhibition brings together over 60 paintings, by artists such as Hans Holbein the Younger, Nicholas Hilliard, Van Dyck, Rembrandt and Peter Lely, as well as drawings, sculpture, garments, jewellery, accessories and armour. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 6th October.
Fiona Rae: Maybe You Can Live On The Moon In The Next Century features the work of the contemporary British artist described as "a Jackson Pollock for the digital age". Over the last 25 years Fiona Rae has established herself as one of the leading painters of her generation with a distinctive body of work, full of restless energy, humour and complexity, which has set out to challenge and expand the modern conventions of painting. This exhibition of 16 works starts when Rae's paintings had begun to reference a world keyed to the computer screen, echoing in painterly analogues many of the new visual conventions familiar to a post-Photoshop generation. Fonts, signs and symbols drawn from contemporary design and typography appeared, whilst more familiar abstract marks and spontaneous gestures worried the autonomy, legibility and function of these graphic shapes, debating a new synthesis of painterly languages. Her lexicon further broadened to include small figures or cartoons whose status is left intriguingly ambiguous, but serve to point up the metaphysical and artificial dimensions of abstract painting, whilst also providing an empathetic point of identification for the viewer that invokes a more personal reading. Her recent titles often purport to be exclamations or statements, but like her paintings, they elude definitive explanation and can appear simultaneously dark and charming, anxious and insouciant. Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, until 23rd June.
Scandal '63: The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Profumo Affair features images of the leading figures from the major political scandal of the 1960s. The events that came to a head in 1963 involved John Profumo, the then Secretary of State for War, who lied to parliament when he denied having a brief affair with the nightclub hostess and model Christine Keeler, while she was also romantically involved with the senior Russian naval attache Yevgeny Ivanov. These events took place against the backdrop of the Cold War and heightened political paranoia. Highlights of the display are a rare vintage print of one of Lewis Morley's iconic seated nude portraits of Christine Keeler; and two of Michael Ward's colour photographs of Pauline Boty with her now lost painting 'Scandal '63', which incorporated Morley's photograph of Keeler and four of the key players: John Profumo; Stephen Ward, Keeler's friend, artist and osteopath to the establishment; Johnny Edgecombe, her former lover the jazz promoter; and his rival the jazz musician Aloysius 'Lucky' Gordon. Also featured are a number of contemporary press photographs of those involved, including Christine Keeler's friends Mandy Rice-Davies and Paula Hamilton-Marshall, which describe the unraveling of the story in the media; Tom Blau's on-set photographs of Keeler which were taken to publicise The Keeler Affair, a film banned in Britain; Gerald Scarfe's cartoon of Harold Macmillan as Keeler, which appeared in Private Eye; and an LP cover for That Affair featuring an illustration by Barry Fantoni. National Portrait Gallery until 15th September.
George Bellows: Modern American Life is the first retrospective of works by the American realist painter to be held in Britain. George Bellows's fascination with New York's gritty urban landscape, its technological marvels and the diversity of its inhabitants, made him both an artist of the modern city and an insightful observer of the dynamic and challenging decades of the early 20th century. Bellows's career encompassed a range of subject matter and the exhibition explores the principle themes of his work, featuring boxing fights, cityscapes, views of the Hudson River, social scenes, seascapes, portraits and the First World War, in 71 paintings, drawings and lithographs. Bellows was a lifelong sportsman and his most celebrated work 'Stag at Sharkey's', depicts a prize fight at Tom Sharkey's Athletic Club, a bar located directly across the street from his studio, and a theme revisited with 'Dempsey and Firpo'. He was especially drawn to Manhattan's Lower East Side, finding subject matter in the chaotic scenes of downtown New York, where immigrants lived within the crowded tenement buildings captured in 'Forty-two Kids', depicting children bathing in the polluted waters of the East River. Cityscapes include 'New York, 1911', 'Men of the Docks', and 'Pennsylvania Excavation' depicting the excavations of the Pennsylvania Railroad Station. Royal Academy of Arts until 9th June.
Looking At The View examines how British artists across the centuries have depicted the landscape around them in a multitude of ways, from detailed close ups of nature to distant views framed by trees or soaring bird's-eye perspectives. The exhibition of over 70 works by 50 artists reveals that apparently unconnected artists have looked at the landscape in surprisingly similar ways. It spans 300 years of British art from the golden age of Romantic landscape painting through to Land Art and contemporary artists' use of photography and film. The display groups artists from different periods according to a common motif, whether a horizon line or a winding path. By juxtaposing work across time it highlights unexpected affinities between works by artists as various as Lucian Freud and Victorian agricultural painter Thomas Weaver or contemporary artist film-maker Tacita Dean and Pre-Raphaelite painter John Brett. The exhibition offers an insight into the ways artists compose images, orientate the viewer and lead the eye. Richard Long's photograph of a path trodden through a field guides the viewer's gaze much like Romantic painter John Crome's painting of Norwich in 1818. Tracey Emin's photograph of herself in a wild landscape casually reading in an armchair echoes the ease with which Joseph Wright of Derby's sitter lounges among the foliage in a painting of 1781. Thus shared visual languages that transcend different periods, movements and media are revealed. Pairings of historical and contemporary art works in the display sometimes highlight changing social or political conditions. An idyllic painting by Sir William Nicholson from 1917 of a patchwork of English fields from on high at first resonates with contemporary artist Carol Rhodes's aerial view until the urbanisation in the later work becomes apparent. Tate Britain until 2nd June.
Man Ray Portraits focuses on the photographic portraiture of one of the most innovative and influential artists of his generation. Man Ray's versatility and experimentation as an artist is illustrated throughout his photography although this was never his chosen principal artistic medium. The exhibition comprises over 150 vintage prints from Man Ray's career taken between 1916 and 1968, with portraits of his celebrated contemporaries shown alongside often intimate portraits of friends and his social circle. These include Marcel Duchamp, Berenice Abbott, Andre Breton, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, James Joyce, Erik Satie, Henri Matisse, Barbette, Igor Stravinsky, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dali, Le Corbusier, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Coco Chanel and Wallis Simpson. Also on show are portraits of his lovers Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin) and Lee Miller, who was also his assistant and collaborator, Ady Fidelin, and his last muse and wife Juliet Browner. Although born in America, Man Ray moved to Paris in 1921, where, as a contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, he was perfectly placed to make defining images of his contemporaries from the avant-garde. In this period he was instrumental in developing and producing a type of photogram which he called 'Rayographs', and is credited in rediscovering and developing, alongside Lee Miller, the process of solarisation. This can be seen in the portraits of Elsa Schiaparelli, Irene Zurkinden, Lee Miller, Suzy Solidor and his own 'Self-Portrait with Camera'. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Man Ray moved to Hollywood, where subjects included Ruth Ford, Paulette Goddard, Ava Gardner, Tilly Losch and Dolores del Rio. Returning to Paris in 1951 he experimented with colour photography in portraits of Juliette Greco, Yves Montand and Catherine Deneuve. National Portrait Gallery until 27th May.