News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th March 2002

Commencing

American Sublime is a collection of over one hundred 19th century epic landscapes on heroic scales - Niagara Falls 10ft tall by 8ft wide - most of which have never been seen in Europe before. These Great Pictures toured American cites in eagerly awaited single painting exhibitions as soon as they were completed, theatrically lit and swagged with velvet drapes, with audiences offered opera glasses. They were the equivalent of the Cinerama travelogues of 100 years later. Through them, the American people became acquainted with landmarks of their country of which they could only dream. These paintings reflect the awe and wonder with which artists of the European tradition responded to the vast and magnificent wilderness of a virtually unexplored and uninhabited continent. Turner and Constable inspired many of the artists, which is (presumably) how they find their place here. The painters include Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Cole, Sanford Robinson Gifford and Thomas Moran, who were the artistic equivalents of wagon train pioneers. Locations range across the Grand Canyon, the Catskill and Rocky Mountains, Yosemite Valley and icebergs off Newfoundland. A revelation. Tate Britain until 19th May.

Second Skin explores the use of life casting - taking plaster casts of the human figure to create sculptures - contrasting examples by 19th century and contemporary sculptors. In previous centuries life casting was mostly used for research, presenting the results as art objects in themselves would have been considered 'cheating'. Now that contemporary art consists of little but cheating, the technique has come into its own. In the 1970s and 1980s American artist Duane Hanson popularised meticulously hand painted life casts as works of art in their own right, examples of which are included here. There are accompanying works by John De Andrea, Paul Thek and Robert Gober, and more recent examples by Jordan Baseman, Don Brown, Siobhan Hapaska, Abigail Lane, Sarah Lucas and Gavin Turk. Together they illustrate the diversity of the casting techniques, and disparate uses to which end results are put. A star feature in this up market Madame Tussauds display is Marc Quinn's ice sculpture of the ubiquitous Kate Moss (can there be a serious exhibition in the UK now without her effigy?) which will melt away through the course of the exhibition. Henry Moore Institute, Leeds until 12th May.

Planespotting: Italian Aviation Posters 1910-1943 chronicles the golden age of Italian aviation, when flying captured the imagination of writers, artists and designers. It coincided with the rise in importance of the poster, one of the earliest and most effective means of mass communication, which used futurist images in promoting the rise of Fascism. Many posters juxtapose Renaissance monuments and Roman ruins with design feats of contemporary engineers. Following Mussolini's rise to power, the inter-war years witnessed a huge expansion of both military and civil aviation, as well as a number of spectacular aeronautical feats. These included Italo Balbo's legendary transatlantic flights of the 1930s, when he led squadrons of seaplanes, flying in formation, to Brazil and the United States. The Second World War shattered the dream of Italian aeroplanes dominating the skies, decimated the aeronautics industry, and resulted in the deaths of many of the great aviators. This exhibition presents works by artists and illustrators such as Mario Sironi, Umberto Di Lazzaro, Adolfo Wildt, Alberto Mastroianni and Luigi Martinati. Estorick Collection, London until 28th April.

Continuing

Seeing Things: Photographing Objects 1850-2001 is a whistle stop tour of some of the best known and most unusual images in the history of photography. It surveys the range of ways photographers have interpreted objects and people to compose a memorable image, including as museum specimens, direct facsimiles, Surrealist surprises, natural history, found objects, impossible objects, domestic details, personal accessories and advertising. Sometimes a single frame can immortalise a whole era, such as Lewis Morley's nude portrait of Christine Keeler astride that '60s chair, displayed here along with the original contact sheet - and the chair. With everything from early Daguerreotypes to contemporary digital images, this exhibition takes in the full spectrum of documentary, fine art, advertising and portraiture. Among the photographers whose works are featured are Eugene Atget, Julia Margaret Cameron, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Helen Chadwick, William Eggleston, Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Andre Kertesz, Richard Prince and Man Ray. Victoria & Albert Museum until 18th August.

George Romney 1734 - 1802: British Art's Forgotten Genius marks the bicentenary of the death of this key figure of 18th century portraiture with the first comprehensive assessment of his work. Over sixty paintings and seventy works on paper reflect his development as an artist, from early notebook pencil sketches in his Cumbrian birthplace, to grand full length canvasses of London society, including Emma Hart - later Lady Hamilton. At the height of his career he was more fashionable than Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, but his real interest was in painting historical and literary subjects. This exhibition launches new special exhibition galleries at the Walker, as it reopens after a £4.3m refurbishment programme. Also included are a new prints and drawings gallery specially designed to display light sensitive works; more space to display 20th century and contemporary works; restoration of the 17th century European galleries; and an extensive re-hang of the permanent collection. A new craft and design gallery will be completed next year. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool until 21st April.

Barbican: This Was Tomorrow examines one of the icons of the post Second World War town planning dream, which in reality is generally regarded as a nightmare - where the 'Streets In The Sky' meets mixed work/leisure use. So long was the planning and construction, that by the time it was completed, its ideas had been discredited. Although the Barbican is the upmarket version of the Glasgow or East End tower block - here at least the lifts do work - its brutalist style remains unloved, and its recent Grade 2 listing by English Heritage has been greeted with disbelief. Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the opening of the Barbican Centre, this exhibition examines its evolution from the origins in the 1950s as a new vision of urban living created from the devastation of the blitz. This is recreated through a combination of original plans and sketches, specially commissioned photographs, video interviews and a reconstruction of a fantasy Barbican flat, showing in all its naivety what yesterday's future looked like. Barbican Centre until 14th April.

Odds Farm Park, which is open seven days a week from spring to autumn Half Term holidays, provides an opportunity for visitors to observe its animals up close. As one of twenty approved rare breeds centres in the country, it plays an important part in the breeding and conservation of many of Britain's rarest farm animals. There are regular activities throughout the year, such as feeding, hand milking of cows and goats, egg collecting and animal husbandry. In addition, there are month by month seasonal themed activities, with lambing currently in progress, sheepdog demonstrations to follow in April, shearing in May, and tractor and trailer rides throughout the summer. Barns and sheds around the farm provide plenty of cover for the demonstrations in typical British weather. The farm's own produced food, together with other local food and craft items are on sale. Odds Farm Park, High Wycombe continuing.

William Beckford 1760-1844: An Eye For The Magnificent celebrates the achievements of the millionaire, travel writer, novelist, composer, visionary, builder of towers, and one of the greatest collectors of all time. Reputedly England's wealthiest man, Beckford indulged his passion for gothic architecture, design and history, and was one of the first British collectors of oriental and islamic works. His influence, through both his enthusiasm and sponsorship, shaped the taste of a generation of architects, designers, artists, sculptors and craftsmen. Beckford reconstructed a vast gothic abbey at Fonthill, where he lived behind five miles of twelve feet high spiked walls, filling it with his commissions and acquisitions. This exhibition covers the entire gamut of his collection, with paintings, furniture, silverware, pottery, object d'art, and architectural designs and models, across the diverse cultures that were his passion. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 14th April.

Warte Mal! (Hey Wait!): Prostitution After The Velvet Revolution is an extensive installation by Swedish artist Ann-Sofi Siden, combining architectural, sculptural, cinematic and documentary elements. It recreates the experience of life in Dubi, a small town on the Czech-German border, once a spa, which since the collapse of the eastern block, now exists almost solely for the purpose of prostitution. Siden spent some time staying at the notorious Motel Hubert, and recording interviews with the girls, their pimps, their clientele, bar owners and the police. Together with her written diary, and a photographic and video record of daily life in the town, she has assembled a unique picture of a society where corruption, abuse and human exploitation is routine, but which the human spirit challenges with solidarity, compassion and dignity. Siden's arrangement of video monitors in glass booths and large scale projections give the viewer a sense of walking through a community, of witnessing peep shows and panoramas, and sharing intimate confidences. Hayward Gallery until 1st April.

Concluding

Agatha Christie And Archeology: Mystery In Mesopotamia reveals the hitherto unknown interests and talents of the crime writer, told through archaeological finds from the sites on which she worked with her husband Max Mallowan at Ur, Nineveh and Nimrud. Important objects from these digs are combined with archives, personal memorabilia, souvenirs, cameras, photographs and films made by Christie. Together with first editions of her novels, they show how these discoveries and her extensive travels in the Near East influenced her detective writing. In the forecourt of the museum until 2nd December, visitors will also have an opportunity to explore an original 1920s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express sleeping carriage of the kind used by Christie on her honeymoon, and which featured in one of her most popular stories. British Museum until 24th March.

Steenbeckett: Atom Egoyan is a film based installation in the former Museum Of Mankind (whose contents have returned to the British Museum) which pays tribute to pre digital visual and audio information recording technology. A labyrinthine route is traced down dusty corridors, empty save for cans of film and audio tape, and ledgers, index files and other paper information storage systems, up flights of stairs to the abandoned projection booth of a hidden cinema. In a forgotten room, an old Steenbeckett cut-and-tape film editing machine is running a celluloid copy of Atom Egoyan's version of Samuel Becket's Krapp's Last Tape, in which an old man is recording reflections on his younger self on an ancient reel to reel tape recorder. In another room there is the future, with a projection of an immaculate digital version of the same thing. The installation, which is presented with the aid of Artangel, is conceived for a small number of visitors at a time and so entry is on the hour and half hour only. Further information can be found on the Artangel web site via the link from the Others Organisations section of ExhibitionsNet. Former Museum Of Mankind, 6 Burlington Gardens W1 07947 386 732 until 17th March.

Japan: Gateway To The Future showcases the latest advances in Japanese science, revealing cutting edge networking technologies, never before seen in the UK. Robotics Communication describes the history of the humanoid robot, and allows visitors to see, touch, and play with, seal-like and four-legged animal robots. Mobile Communication introduces two services for mobile phones. i-mode offers e-mail and internet access, providing news, weather reports, games, and even fortune telling. FOMA (Freedom Of Mobile Multimedia Access) makes high-developed communication systems possible, allowing videophone and visual data connections across the globe. Smart Driving is a car system with sensors and a visual display unit, which can create more functional and safer travel in all means of transport, including for pedestrians and public transport users. Digital Home Entertainment presents Memory Stick, a tiny storage device that will enable the sharing of digital information between a whole range of AV and IT products, including camcorders, laptop computers, PDAs and mobile phones. Science Museum until 16th March.