News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 8th January 2003

Commencing

Marcus Gheeraets II: Elizabethan Artist is the first solo exhibition to consider the work of this important but little known late Elizabethan and Jacobean immigrant Flemish artist. This is all the more surprising since Gheeraets produced some of the most haunting portraits in British art, and defined the public images of many of the leading Britons of his age. Gheeraerts depicted his male subjects as heroes, often in the increasingly fashionable full length format, as in that of Elizabeth I's final favourite, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. Although his father is best known for a portrait of Elizabeth I (also included here), the younger Gheeraets legacy is the 'pregnancy portrait' - depicting women who are clearly (even exaggeratedly) pregnant. It was an age when a wife's role was to bear many healthy children to extend a family's name and influence, yet childbirth was so hazardous, that these portraits were commissioned to record the features of a loved one who might shortly be dead. The exhibition includes the exceptional 'Portrait Of An Unknown Lady', which has not been exhibited for more than thirty years; Captain Thomas Lee, also known as 'the man with bare legs'; and over twenty other works, including paintings, engravings and portrait miniatures, together with 16th century illustrated medical books, and a 'mother's legacy' book, written for her unborn child were she did not survive childbirth, the author of which sadly did not. Tate Britain until 20th April.

The Jane Austen Centre recently added an unusual new portrait of Austen to its display. It was painted by Melissa Dring, who as well as being a portraitist, is a forensic artist, and works with police forces producing reconstructions and court illustrations. She has used her experience in this field to create a likeness of Austen based on contemporary first hand descriptions by her family and friends. Most images of Jane Austen have been developed from the 1810 watercolour by her sister Cassandra, which is generally held not to have been a good likeness. Perhaps this new portrait is the closest to real life yet created. The permanent exhibition tells the story of Austen's life in Bath, and the effect it had on her, and her writing. It is located in a Georgian town house in the street where Austen lived 1805, set between the architectural masterpieces of Queen Square and the Circus. The novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are largely set in the city, and Bath features in all six her of her works. The Jane Austen Centre continuing.

Magic Pencil - Children's Book Illustration Today is a display of more than 300 paintings and drawings for children, by thirteen of Britain's best known contemporary illustrators. Mythological monsters, spooks and fairytale princesses leap out of the pages in a wide range of colours and styles. These encompass Angela Barrett's fantasy visions, Sara Fanelli's collages, Raymond Briggs and Posy Simonds more adult worlds, and modern classics by Quentin Blake and Tony Ross. The exhibition considers what moves an artist to draw, if children's book illustration is really art, and how we learn to 'read' pictures. Each artist is assessed individually, revealing how and why they work, with examples of their different approaches, techniques and draughtsmanship. The exhibition also examines how today's illustrators reflect contemporary concerns, often through subject matter not always associated with children's books. This current work is placed in the context of the long tradition of British children's book illustration through examples of books from the past 300 years from the permanent collection. The British Library until 31st March.

Continuing

Arthur Rackham celebrates the work of one of the world's most popular artist-illustrators, who produced some of the finest colour book illustrations of the early twentieth century. His interpretations of Rip Van Winkle, Peter Pan, Alice In Wonderland, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Wind In The Willows, have achieved classic status around the world. Trained as a black and white illustrator of magazines alongside Aubrey Beardsley, the influence of Art Nouveau permeates is work. A master of the grotesque, Rackham drew anthropomorphised trees, gnarled dwarfs and gnomish creatures to contrast with his childish, naive vision of the world. He chose well known classic folk and fairy tales, which he drew with a bold scratchy pen, and painted in pale washes. This is the first full scale exhibition of his work in Britain for over twenty years, and brings together over 70 original works, as well as sketches, landscapes and portraits from public and private collections, many of which have never been seen in public before. It provides for the first time, a survey of the full range of Arthur Rackham's artistic output, from juvenile sketches and illustrations to paintings and first edition books, highlighting his impish, childish nature through family photographs, travel sketches and scrapbooks compiled by his descendants. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 2nd March.

Shopping: A Century Of Art And Consumer Culture brings the nation's number one leisure activity into the art gallery. It is an exhibition that had to happen, now that shopping has overtaken the mere satisfaction of physical necessities, and the browsing, selection and purchase of commodities has become one of the defining activities of modern urban life. The show comprises over 240 works, beginning with 'Your Supermarket 2002' by Guillaume Bijl, a recreation of a Tesco Metro, with shelves of fresh food, drinks and household products - and even checkout tills - but nothing is actually for sale. There are photographs by Eugene Atget, Berenice Abbott and Walker Evans chronicling the disappearing world of small shops and specialist stores in Paris, New York and elsewhere. Early examples of art's crossover into the commercial sphere include Frederick Kiesler's studies of shop windows, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy's application of Bauhaus principles to the presentation of objects, and highly theatrical window displays by The Surrealists. Installations include recreations of Claes Oldenburg's 'The Store'; Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein's 'The American Supermarket', where real foods such as Warhol's signed stacks of Campbell's soup cans are mixed together with works such as Robert Watts' chrome fruits and multicoloured wax eggs; and Damian Hurst's 'Pharmacy', where thousands of packets are arranged with clinical precision. Tate Liverpool until 23rd March.

Rewind provides an opportunity to revisit favourite television commercials, press and poster advertising campaigns, graphics and packaging from the sixties to the present, as well as study more recent examples of product, interactive and environmental design. In 1962, a group of designers and advertising art directors working in London joined forces to create a new organisation, British Design & Art Direction (D&AD). Since then, D&AD's annual award scheme has become an international barometer of changing trends. This exhibition shows winning work from the awards, rewinding across four decades to chart developments in design and advertising through a wide range of disciplines. From 'Beanz Meanz Heinz', through the Guinness 'Surfer' commercial, to the Apple iMac, this major retrospective, reflects the rise of Britain's creative industries. It also shows how design and advertising have become an integral part of the fabric of the world economy - and a reflection of the times in which we live. There is a People's Vote to chose the public's favourite campaign from the 43 Gold Award winners on show, which can be found on the V&A web site via the link opposite. Victoria & Albert Museum until 2nd February.

Star Trek - The Adventure is a £24m 'multi-media interactive experience through four decades of Star Trek adventures, where stars, creators and state of the art technology will come together to reveal the secrets of the creative process'. The show is receiving its world premiere in a 7,000 sq metre 'hi-tech climate controlled environment' (that's tent to you and me) in Hyde Park - the biggest event to be staged there since the Great Exhibition of 1851. The extravaganza (at last something which actually deserves the word) offers the first chance for civilians to experience the interiors of various generations of the Enterprise at first hand, including a red alert on the bridge; the transporter room, where they can experience being 'beamed up'; and the engineering bay with the latest technology, together with hundreds of props, costumes and artifacts, and interactive demonstrations and simulators. Last (and by no means least) there is more merchandising on offer than you would think possible in one universe. "It's an exhibition Jim, but not as we know it." Entertainment crosses the final frontier. Star Trek - The Adventure, Speakers Corner, Hyde Park until 31st January.

A New World Trade Center - Design Proposals is the result of New York art gallery owner Max Protetch's invitation to some sixty architects and artists to submit ideas about how the site of the World Trade Centre might be redeveloped. The participants, some leaders in their fields, others up and coming practitioners and theorists, were selected for their imaginations and artistic accomplishments, rather than their ability to deliver practical solutions. There were no rules, regulations, or requirements, and this exhibition, comprising drawings, sketches, models, animations, photos, texts and even sound, reflects the diversity of the responses. Many of them attempt rethink the skyscraper - arguably America's greatest contribution to world architecture. Others look beyond buildable architectural forms, seeking to redefine the urban environment and reshape how we think about cities, imagining a new character for lower Manhattan. At a time when technological change is directly impacting on both the way architects design and builders build, these proposals encompass a broad swath of contemporary architectural thought and practice. This is only UK appearance for the exhibition, which was originally staged in New York in January. Cube Gallery, Manchester until 8th February.

Mies Van Der Rohe 1905 - 1938 looks at the early career of possibly the most influential architect of the 20th century. Famed for his ethos of 'less is more', his designs have reshaped skylines and revolutionised interior, urban and suburban space. This exhibition brings together 38 pivotal projects dating from Mies arrival in Berlin in 1905 to his departure for a new career in America in 1938, which are explored through over 200 drawings, photographs, models and virtual 'walk through' videos. Featuring elegant villas, prototype skyscrapers and his remarkable German Pavilion for the Barcelona International Exposition, it also includes the work of modern masters and contemporary artists inspired by his architecture. Mies enthusiastically embraced new technology, using materials such as glass, concrete and steel, which he saw as a 'means towards a spiritual purpose'. His proposal for a skyscraper in Berlin's Friedrichstrasse in 1921 was the first for a high rise building entirely clad in glass. Such innovative designs were often created for exhibitions or magazines, such as the famous G magazine - which brought together works and writings by artists such as Hans Arp, Theo van Doesburg, George Grosz and Man Ray, also included in the exhibition. The economic depression of the 1930s, coupled with the emergence of the National Socialist regime, resulted in a number of significant projects that were never built. Mies was the last director of the influential Bauhaus School of Art and Design, until its closure by the Nazis in 1933. Whitechapel Art Gallery until 2nd March.

Concluding

Somerset House Courtyard Ice Rink, is now as regular a Christmas feature in London as the Holiday Season outdoor skating arena at the Rockefeller Center in New York (although the skating is possibly not as stylish). The rink, which at 9000sqm is larger than ever and capable of accommodating some 2000 skaters a day, has been installed in the courtyard at a cost of around £300,000. It is open from 10am to 10pm, and as darkness falls the courtyard is illuminated by flaming torches and architectural lighting on the building's 18th century facades. A 40ft Christmas tree donated by the city of Basel has been erected at the north end of the courtyard. Both skaters and spectators can enjoy traditional hot snacks and drinks in the rinkside cafe. Tuition is available for beginners and ice guides can accompany inexperienced skaters. The rink is open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, closing only on Christmas Day. Somerset House until 26th January.

Marble Arch Ice Rink is also joining in the fun this year, with a 600sqm rink (complete with snowmen) under the arches themselves, open from 10am to 10pm. Spectators can watch from both an open air viewing area and an indoor rinkside cafe which serves hot snacks and drinks. As a bonus, Oxford Street is on the doorstep for Christmas and January Sales shopping. The rink is open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, closing only on Christmas Day. At last London can return to the Thames Frost Fairs of yesteryear. Marble Arch until 15th January.

Gainsborough brings together the largest group of works by the 18th century master ever assembled, from collections around the world. Alongside some of the most iconic images in British art, the selection includes many lesser known pieces, some being seen in Britain for the first time in living memory. They demonstrate the range, quality and originality of Thomas Gainsborough's art, from the glamour of his society portraits, to the naturalism of his rural landscapes. He was one of the few major painters to be equally at home in both genres. There are works from his early years in London, less successful times in Ipswich, the 15 year period he spent in Bath where his 'face paintings' became the rage - "phizmongering" as he called it - to his later experimental period which put him in conflict with the Royal Academy. Among the grand full length portraits are Mary, Countess Howe, Sir Edward Turner, Lady Anne Rodney and The Linley Sisters. The landscapes, which Gainsborough referred to as his "fancy pictures" include The Harvest Wagon, Wooded Landscape with Country Wagon, Milkmaid and Drover, The Watering Place and Cottage Door with Girl and Pigs. This exhibition is spectacular proof (if it were needed) that Gainsborough deserves his place as one of the greatest British artists. Tate Britain until 19th January.

Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight: The John Hinde Butlin's Photographs returns us to the gentler age of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the John Hinde Studio produced a series of postcards to be sold at Butlin's holiday camps across the UK. This was Butlin's heyday, with over a million holidaymakers staying at the network of nine camps each year. With innovative use of colour and elaborate staging - the trademarks of a John Hinde postcard - the photographs show an idealised view of Britain at leisure. Each photograph is a narrative tableaux, elaborately stage managed, involving large casts of real holidaymakers acting their roles in Butlin's lounges, ballrooms, Beachcomber bars and pools. At the time they were not considered by Hinde to be work of any serious artistic or documentary interest - the simple intention was that the brilliance of the cards would make them leap off the postcard rack compared to their alternatives. Now they are a documentary record of a fantasy of class and period aspirations, and of Butlin's once revolutionary vision of leisure, as well as a hyperreal and fantastic rendition of an actual place at a particular time. In the faces, clothes and gestures, and in the quantity of detail recorded, they provide the raw material for an entire social archaeology of the period. This is probably best summed up by the image of a futuristic monorail soaring over a Morris Traveller. The Photographer's Gallery until 18th January.