Private View held by Richard Andrews
The World's Most Photographed examines the lives and legends of ten well known figures from history: Muhammad Ali, James Dean, Mahatma Gandhi, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Adolf Hitler, John F Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Queen Victoria. By unearthing photographs that have previously been lost, suppressed or hidden, or those that were simply allowed to slip from view, the exhibition explores the nature of celebrity and iconography, going beyond the carefully constructed public image, to reveal more about the personalities and lives of the sitters. Around 100 photographs juxtaposing iconic pictures with unknown ones, lay bare a little of the real people. Among the surprises are a series of macabre photographs of James Dean in a funeral parlour, unreleased for over 30 years; the story of a schoolboy who outwitted 'Colonel' Tom Parker, scooped the world's press and sold his unique snaps of Elvis in the school canteen; an illustration of how Mahatma Gandhi manipulated his appearance to bind his nation, and used photography to challenge and undermine the British Empire; the single image that threatened to destroy the career of Marilyn Monroe; and the how John F Kennedy's frailties and infidelities were concealed, and the myth of 'Camelot' was created and sustained. National Portrait Gallery until 23rd October.
Cecily Brown: Paintings is the first major solo exhibition in Britain of the sensuous and flamboyant paintings of this English born but New York resident artist. It is a survey of her work over the past ten years across themes of the figure, landscape and the relationship of painting to its own history. Brown is a 21st century baroque. Her large scale canvasses are densely worked and packed with imagery in which grappling figures and pastoral landscapes explode into an abstract frenzy of illicit views and fragmentary parts. Brown's repertoire is indebted as much to porn magazines, comic books and Hollywood movies as it is to De Kooning, Rubens, Bacon, Goya, and Hogarth. Brown engages with the experience of painting as an intensely physical act, and as a result, her works express a sense of joy in the application of paint to canvass. The sheer energy of her work is a contributing factor in the current revival of interest in painting. The exhibition presents a selection of Brown's most significant paintings, including 'Performance', 'Wood', 'Two Figures in a Landscape', 'Bacchanal', and work from the 'Black Painting' series, together with her recent large scale paintings, in which Cezannesque compositions slide into wildly rendered 'junkscapes'. Also included is the film Four Letter Heaven, a sexy watercolour animation that marked a turning point in Brown's career. Modern Art Oxford until 28th August.
Touch Me looks at contemporary design in products and installations that relate to the sense of touch, from site specific art and design commissions to games, live science experiments and a garden of the senses. Designers are now creating novel objects that engage more playfully with the sense of touch. Some explore unexpected materialsm, some reinvent how we use objects and technologies in order to produce more satisfying encounters, and some are even creating designs that aspire to promote richer human relationships. There are around 90 items in a series of room settings covering home and work environments. In the kitchen, Julia Leihener's 'Thups' are drinking glasses which rest on the thumb for the new generation of texters and computer gamers; IDEO's range of SoMo prototype mobile phones experiment with unusual interactions in the office; Yoshi Saito's 'Hug Chair' in the living room, is a contemporary take on the traditional kissing seat, which encourages people to hug each other when they sit down; and a variety of pleasurable sensations - from silks to jewellery - are available in the bedroom. In an interactive garden of the senses, visitors can play games, take part in live science experiments, engage all their senses in an immersive sensory room, challenge each other to a game of 'chicken' on the 'Painstation', play table tennis on MIT Medialab's 'PingPongPlus' table that plays tricks, or take part in a human scale PacMan game using Spacehoppers. Victoria & Albert Museum until 29th August.
Cedric Price - Doubt, Delight And Change celebrates the visionary ideas of one of the most innovative architects and influential architectural thinkers of the late 20th century. Convinced that architecture should be liberating and life enhancing, and encouraging people to 'think the unthinkable', Price embraced 'doubt, delight and change' in visionary projects, most of which were sadly never built, from 1960, when he founded his practice, until his death in 2003. As well as presenting Price's most important projects together for the first time, this exhibition attempts to deconstruct them. They range from the 1960s, with revolutionary Aviary designed at London Zoo with Frank Newby and Lord Snowdon; the Fun Palace, a 24 hour laboratory of fun for theatre director Joan Littlewood; and the Potteries Thinkbelt, a proposal for a radically new kind of university; through the 1970s Inter-Action Centre, a multi purpose community centre; and Wespen, a multi use animal pen that converted into a landscape with a sundial; and the 1980s South Bank Project, which embraced both the artistic and commercial buildings, and with The Thing, anticipated the London Eye; to the 1990s Magnet scheme of short life structures to solve everyday problems. Price built so little that his reputation and influence is chiefly based on the radicalism of his ideas and proposals. This exhibition brings them to life, by exploring the thinking and working practise that imbued his architecture. Design Museum, London until 9th October.
Francis Bacon: Portraits And Heads explores in depth Bacon's vivid portraits of friends, lovers, other artists - and himself. With over 50 works, it demonstrates Bacon's attempt to revitalise the art of portraiture after the Second World War. The show comprises small single heads from the late 1940s, echoing the imagery of 'Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion', the painting that launched his career; a group of large single portraits from the 1950s, some full length, in which the human figure is depicted as an integrated whole; and from the 1960s, slightly under life size close ups of well known Soho figures, such as Lucian Freud, Henrietta Moraes, Isabel Rawsthorne, Peter lacy and George Dyer. Beginning with 'Study for Three Heads', these small canvasses, usually 14 inches by 12 inches, are often grouped in threes. This format - the triptych - gave Bacon the opportunity to show three different aspects of the same personality, or contrasting images of two or more different people, sometimes including himself. The exhibition also features a number of full length portraits from the 1960s, with subjects standing, seated or reclining. Bacon increasingly became the main subject of his art, and he is seen in a variety of roles and states, from combative and self assured to spectral and faint near the end of his life. National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh until 4th September,
Stubbs And The Horse focuses on the equestrian theme in the work of George Stubbs, not only the greatest of all British horse painters, but arguably the greatest painter of horses in the history of European art. Quite simply, Stubbs sought to capture the individual character of each horse, in the same way that any portrait painter does with his subject. Assembling some of Stubbs's finest paintings and most beautiful anatomical drawings and engravings, the exhibition explores the social, cultural and intellectual environment in which they were produced, providing an insight into the importance of the horse in 18th century British culture. Fundamental to Stubbs's unrivalled understanding of horses and their physiognomy, are the anatomical drawings and prints that he painstakingly made in an eighteen month period from 1756, which are featured extensively. They were the first anatomical studies of horses to be published since the 16th century, and were drawn directly from the dissections that Stubbs personally performed in a farmhouse in Horkstow. The exhibition comprises 35 paintings, including the life size portrait of 'Whistlejacket', 32 works on paper and 2 enamelled works - a technique that Stubbs developed with Josiah Wedgwood. It includes Stubbs's 'sublime' paintings of horses attacked by lions, and his classically inspired, frieze-like studies of mares and foals at stud farms, as well as riding portraits, conversation pieces and scenes from the stableyard and racecourse. National Gallery until 25th September.
Hirschfeld's Hollywood: The Film Art Of Al Hirschfeld features early work by America's foremost illustrator, who from the 1920s to his death aged 99 in 2003, created witty and stylish celebrity caricatures that appeared in the New York Times. Hirschfeld developed and perfected a signature style when he worked for the publicity and art departments of numerous American movie studios. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents the first exhibition to examine these Hollywood years. Over 50 drawings, paintings, posters and movie ephemera, are featured, with a special emphasis on Hirschfeld's unique interpretation of British performers and film makers. National Theatre until 13th August.
Hirschfeld's Brits On Broadway, charts British theatre's impact on the American stage with some of the thousands of New York Times celebrity caricatures, many of which adorn the walls of Sardi's, the legendary Broadway restaurant. Hirschfeld's work provides an insight into ranges of styles of Shakespearean productions from the 20s with Mary Ellis, to Flora Robson and Michael Redgrave in the 40s, and Vanessa Redgrave in the 90s. The New York Times drawings were not illustrations to articles or reviews, but stand alone features that presented the action on stage distilled through his eyes. The exhibition comprises over 40 drawings and prints, plus over 80 full page reproduction of New York Times drama pages. It showcases Hirschfeld's ability to translate character and humour into lines in motion, uniquely capturing both the fictional person and the actor portraying him or her. Theatre Museum until 30th October.
The Roald Dahl Museum And Story Centre is now open, and the doors, which resemble slabs of chocolate (complete with Swiss chocolate aroma) have been flung wide. Hawkins\Brown Architects, working with gallery designers Bremner & Orr, have transformed an old coaching inn and yard into a series of galleries that immerse visitors in the subversive world of Roald Dahl. From the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) on the wall outside, to the crocodile cunningly disguised as a bench inside, the building takes Dahl's characters and stories as its theme. The galleries tell the story of Dahl's life and work through film, objects and interactive displays. Dahl's archive of manuscripts, photographs, 'ideas books', business and personal correspondence (going right back to letters written while he was at school) is available via touch screens and online. The story centre houses a replica of Dahl's Writing Hut, including his table, complete with lift up flaps revealing some of his prized possessions. The Hut stands in an orchard of Quentin Blake illustrations, where interactive games and bookcases can be discovered among the trees. It also features material about other contemporary children's writers, such as Philip Pulman, J K Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson and Benjamin Zephaniah. In the temporary exhibition space there is a display of photographs taken by Dahl while he was serving with the RAF in the Middle East during the Second World War, newly printed from recently discovered negatives. The Roald Dahl Museum And Story Centre, Great Missenden, continuing.
Salvator Rosa: Wild Landscapes features the work of the 17th century Neapolitan artist, whose landscapes, with their dramatic lighting and elemental locations, set a precedent for the 'sublime' in landscape painting. Many of his works have a mysterious, often violent quality that seems to reflect something of his character, which was said to be combative and melancholy. Rosa was almost as well known for his personality as for his art, and he became a cult figure, often referred to in poems and treatises. He created a significant new form of landscape painting, which often formed backdrops for scenes from classical mythology and contemporary folklore, where the turbulent and ferocious energy of nature was expressed with a sense of awe. In the darkness of his forests, witches are plotting murderous crimes, demons are devouring babies, and skeletons and devils await the arrival of innocent mortals. The exhibition explores the wild nature of Rosa's landscapes through over 40 paintings, drawings and etchings, including 'River Landscape with Apollo and the Cumaean Sybil', 'Landscape with Mercury and the Dishonest Woodman', 'Self-Portrait', 'Empedocles Leaping into Etna' and 'Jacob's Dream'. Also shown alongside, are prints and drawings by his 18th century British followers J H Mortimer and J Goupy. The Wallace Collection, London until 18th September.
Great Escapes examines and illustrates some of the extraordinary escape attempts made by Allied servicemen from German prisoner of war camps in the Second World War. It compares fact - much of which seems too far fetched to be true - with the fictional versions seen in the films The Wooden Horse, The Great Escape and Colditz. The ingenuity employed in engineering the escapes themselves - be it tunnelling under, or flying over the walls - and subsequent survival - supplying clothes and identity papers to avoid recapture - is revealed. The exhibition includes the first public display of objects recently excavated from the original tunnels. Among the exhibits are forged identity tags and papers, rubber stamps carved from boot soles, a Monopoly game used to smuggle in hacksaw blades, tins from Red Cross parcels converted to shovels, and German currency concealed inside records. Also on display are replicas of the wooden vaulting horse used as the cover for tunnelling at Stalag Luft 111, and the glider constructed but never actually used at Colditz. In addition to the original artefacts, interactive and hands-on displays allow children and adults to try on disguises, forge an identity pass, crawl through an escape tunnel, find out facts about escape attempts, and use their ingenuity to plan their own escape route from Colditz. Imperial War Museum, London until 31st July.
Circling The Square: Avant-garde Porcelain From Revolutionary Russia is a comprehensive survey of the remarkable avant-garde ceramics produced by the extraordinarily unlikely combination of the Imperial Porcelain Factory of Russia and Boshevic Revolutionary designers in the heady times immediately following the Russian Revolution of 1917. Inspired by the promise of a new society, leading artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Rudol'f Vilde, and Kuz'ma Petrov-Vodkin, supplied the factory with bold and innovative designs, often incorporating stirring images and slogans in support of the new regime. "Proletariat of the World Unite" and "Blessed is Free Labour" shown with interlocking axes and scythes, executed in the exquisite colours, finish and standard of the 150 year old Lomonosov factory in St Petersburg, is a culture clash of a dimension rarely experienced. In 1923 the factory started producing an extraordinary range of porcelain with purely abstract designs by the Suprematist painter Kazimir Malevich and his students Nicolay Suyetin and Ilya Chashnik. Sadly after the mid 1920s the purity of the vision was lost, replaced by scenes of dreary heroic workers and factory chimneys. In addition to a wide selection of this unique porcelain, the exhibition features a group of design drawings by the leading Russian artists of the early 20th century, many of which have not been exhibited before. The Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House until 31st July.
International Arts And Crafts is the most comprehensive British exhibition on the movement ever staged, and the first to look at it from an international perspective. It shows how Arts and Crafts originated in Britain in the 1880s as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution and its machine dominated production. Led by John Ruskin and William Morris, the movement promoted the ideals of craftsmanship, individualism, and the integration of art into every day life. It became the first British design movement to spread internationally, to America from 1890 to 1916 and continental Europe and Scandinavia from 1880 to 1914, before its final manifestation in Japan between 1926 and 1945. The display comprises over 300 of the best examples of the genre, from simple folk craft to sophisticated objects made for wealthy patrons, including textiles, stained glass, furniture, ceramics, metalwork, jewellery, books, architecture, photography, paintings and sculpture. Highlights include objects by British designers such as Voysey, Mackintosh, Ashbee, Morris, Geddes, Traquair, Baillie Scott and De Morgan; a group of Russian objects that have not been exhibited abroad before; four metres wide stained glass doors by Californian designers, Greene and Greene; and Japanese objects by Bernard Leach and Hamada Shoji. Four specially created room sets emphasise the importance of the movement's interiors: two British sets (one urban and one rural), one American 'Craftsman' room, and one Japanese 'model room' recreated through recently rediscovered objects. Victoria & Albert Museum until 24th July.