News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th August 2004

Commencing

Making Faces explores the way painters have represented faces from the profile portraits of 15th century Italy, such the 'Portrait of a Lady in Red', to the abstracted images of Frank Auerbach's 'Julia'. The 22 works featured encompass artists as diverse as Botticelli, Cranach, Goya, Moroni, Renoir, Sargent, Wyndham Lewis, Warhol and Julian Opie. Opening with a section on how artists have addressed the problem of catching a likeness, the exhibition centres on the way painters have used expression, idealisation, distortion and caricature to convey character, social standing and emotion. This is embodied in Phillipe de Champaigne's 'Triple Portrait of Cardinal de Richelieu', comprised of two profiles and a full frontal, which was painted as a visual aid for a sculptor who had to work without ever having actually seen the cardinal. The exhibition includes both single heads of great individuality such as Bruggen's 'Man Playing a Lute', Hogarth's 'The Shrimp Girl' and Goya's 'Dona Isabel de Porcel', and crowded scenes of carefully distinguished facial types, such as the cross-section of London life shown in George Elgar Hick's 'The General Post Office: One minute to Six'. The show culminates in a selection of paintings that use faces to intensely expressive ends, including Rembrandt's 'Belshazzar's Feast' and Francis Bacon's 'Figure Study II'. National Gallery until 26th September.

Bodies Revealed: The Exhibition features a display of dissected full human specimens, plus hundreds of individual organs, allowing visitors the chance to see close up how the body works, and how organs are affected by disease. The specimens have been preserved using a process called 'polymer preservation', so that they can be examined long term, without deterioration due to natural decay. The same technique was used by Professor Gunther von Hagens, the gentleman that looked as though he had just stepped out of a Hammer Horror film, who dissected a body live on television, (no, not a live body) for the Body Worlds exhibition in 2002. This time the specimens are the work of the less alarming Dr Roy Glover, and the University of Michigan. His laboratory has supplied preserved human specimens for medical instruction in more than 125 undergraduate and postgraduate medical programmes, biotechnology companies, health education agencies and museums. All of the bodies and organ specimens in the exhibition came from individuals who chose to donate their bodies to medical science for the purpose of study and education. Possibly the most impressive exhibit is a figure showing the delicate knitting of the entire blood vessel system. Nevertheless, with the cirrhotic livers, shrunken lungs and ectopic pregnancies on display, plus the location on Blackpool's Golden Mile, it does evoke the memory of a Victorian freak show. Winter Gardens, Blackpool, until 14th November.

British Art Displays 1500-2004: The Symbolic Paintings Of GF Watts marks the centenary of the death of the man who was once one of Britain's most lauded artists, even dubbed 'England's Michelangelo', but is now almost forgotten. It brings together many of his best known paintings with other rarely shown works. Despite being regarded primarily as a portraitist, for Watts, his allegorical paintings were his most important work, exploring the themes of love, death and conscience. These include the monumental 'Court of Death', measuring over four metres by two metres, which was originally destined for the chapel in a paupers' cemetery. It is joined here by 'Love and Death', from the ambitious but incomplete series called 'The House of Life'. These paintings were regarded as both consolatory spiritual statements, and trenchant condemnations of pervasive modern vices, such as gambling, gross materialism and sexual exploitation. The display reunites the three works that comprise the trilogy of subjects related to Eve, made for 'The House of Life', which show Eve's creation, temptation and repentance. Appalled by the squalor and urban poverty of his time, Watts painted a series of grim socialist-realist paintings, including 'Found Drowned', 'Under A Dry Arch' and 'The Song of a Shirt', that had a similar effect on the public conscience as Dickens's novels. Among other works on show that have not been seen for many years are the quasi Papal portrait 'Mammon', 'Hope' and 'Jonah'. Tate Britain, continuing.

Continuing

The State Rooms Of Buckingham Palace, which 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, musical entertainment at Buckingham Palace is the focus of a special display in the Ball Supper Room. Historic fancy-dress costumes, musical instruments and manuscripts, photographs and souvenirs can be see in the room that has been the setting for many glittering events in the Palace's history. The star exhibit is a gilded and painted grand piano, built for and played by Queen Victoria, at whose instigation the Ball Supper Room was constructed. As part of the audio tour of the State Rooms, visitors hear the voices of performers, the sounds of the original instruments on show, and some of the music specially composed for the royal family. Among the highlights are Johann Strauss's waltz for Queen Victoria's coronation; Felix Mendelssohn's special arrangements of his Songs Without Words; and The Queen's Suite by Duke Ellington, written and performed in 1959. Visitors can also enjoy a garden walk that offers views of the Garden Front of the Palace and the 19th century lake. Buckingham Palace until 26th September.

SoundSpace is a new gallery designed to introduce children between the ages of 3 and 12 to sound, music and performance, through hands on exhibits and state of the art technology. The multi media systems have been created through a collaboration between sound artist Thor McIntyre-Burnie and designers Northern Light CoDesign. The interactive experience provides an opportunity for children to explore the physics of sound by seeing and feeling vibrations, and creating their own musical sequences. The main features are: an immersive 'Sensory Soundscape', where children are surrounded by a medley of lights and a constantly evolving sound collage that responds to visitors movements; a stage, complete with sound and lighting, so that visitors can take part in a 10 minute performance; a DJ style studio, where visitors can mix their own music, using beats, samples and sounds from nature; and a music matrix, with flashing patterns that revolutionises the way music is created, where children can generate their own unique musical compositions, and select how they wish their music to sound - and look. The aim is to enhance children's understanding of how science, technology, engineering and maths work together to make music. Eureka!, Halifax, continuing.

William Hodges: The Art Of Exploration is the first ever major retrospective of the 18th century world landscape painter, whose career as an artist took him to New Zealand, the South Pacific and India, travelling with Captain Cook on his second three year voyage, and across India under the patronage Warren Hastings and the East India Company. The exhibition reveals Hodges's bold, almost impressionistic style, and shows how his originality expanded the scope of British landscape painting to include subjects that reflected European exploration across the world. The works also demonstrate his technical skill for painting 'en plein air', a technique that caused controversy when the Impressionists bought it to the fore a century later. The subjects of his paintings of Tahiti, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands were a revelation at the time for audiences in Europe with no knowledge of these scenes and cultures. Among these are the monuments of Easter Island, a waterspout at Cape Stephens, and an Antarctic iceberg. After returning from the Pacific, Hodges became the first professional landscape painter to work in India. The exhibition, of 56 oil paintings and over 20 works on paper, includes many works that have not been on display since Hodges's lifetime, and this is the first time that the Pacific and Indian pictures have been seen together. Queen's House, The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich until 21st November.

Energy - Fuelling The Future is a new interactive gallery designed by Casson Mann, dubbed an 'energy playground', where visitors, especially (but not exclusively) children, can explore how energy powers every aspect of our lives. It examines the vital role energy plays in our society, and questions how we will meet future demands when deposits of fossil fuels run out. The gallery houses no traditional museum artefacts, but engages visitors with thought-provoking interactive displays, to trigger debate, and ask critical questions about the political, social and environmental issues surrounding energy production and distribution. Visitors can play with novel interfaces from spinning drums and touch-screens, to dance-floor footpads. Specialist museum staff are on hand, and Energy Info Zone terminals, using the latest multimedia technology, are packed with games, quizzes and a rich information database. Having been presented with some of the latest ideas for fuelling the future, visitors are encouraged to post their opinions, choices or messages on a 13 metre LED Energy Ring, suspended from the ceiling. There are a number of accompanying free activities for children during the school holidays, together with a series of events, debates and comedy nights for adults. Further information can be found on the Science Museum web site via the link opposite. Science Museum, continuing.

Paradise Lost: The Poem And Its Illustrators brings together works by a number of artists and poets in response to John Milton's epic 12 book poem. The exhibition is centred on 12 illustrations by William Blake - one for each of the books - that have not been seen in this country for nearly a century. It also commemorates the 200th anniversary of Blake's own retelling of the story, called Milton, in the preface of which he first published the poem Jerusalem. Other artists on display, whose work exploring heaven and hell, Adam and Eve, and God and the Devil, was associated directly with printed editions, or found inspiration from it, include John Baptiste Medina, John Henry Fuseli, George Romney, JMW Turner, Gustave Dore and William Hogarth. The exhibition also features a number of rare books and manuscripts, such as a first edition copy of Paradise Lost from 1667, a first illustrated edition from 1688, and an edition from 1827 with John Martin illustrations. There are also other books by Blake, and a 21st century manuscript from Tony Harrison 'On not being Milton'. The Wordsworth Museum, Grasmere until 31st October.

Status Symbols: Identity And Belief On Modern Badges provides an outing for one of the museums oddest and least known collections. The humble badge has been used throughout the centuries to signify political allegiance, draw attention to social injustice, express support or disdain for the monarchy, and more recently, as a symbol of international protest. The exhibition includes badges from all over the world, ranging from the mass produced to the individually crafted, the official to the subversive, the familiar to the strange, and the humorous to the serious. The first section of the exhibition examines badges that express identity and a sense of belonging. Examples include trade union badges such as Solidarity pins and NUM's 'Coal Not Dole', a 'Panther Power' Black Panther badge, an 'Indian Resistance' badge from the 70s, a 'Love Maggie', early 80s badge, and the iconic Blue Peter badge. The second section looks at belief, the issues people feel strongly about and the statements they make. These badges often refer specifically to other opposing badges and slogans, thus creating a debate. So a suffragette hunger strike medal sits alongside a badge of the 'National League For Opposing Woman Suffrage', and celebration Royal Jubilee badges are opposed by a 'Don't do it, Di!' pin. Badges of leaders such as Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are displayed alongside protest symbols, from the CND logo to the contemporary 'Don't Attack Iraq'. Finally, the limitations of badge sloganeering are shown in the satirical 'Gay Whales Against Racism' and a badge that proclaims 'Badges Are Not Enough'. British Museum until 16th January.

Concluding

The Art Of The Garden is the first major exhibition to examine the relationship of the garden and British art. It takes a broad view, encompassing the domestic garden, allotments, garden suburbs, artist's own backyards and imaginary gardens. From the last two centuries, it brings together over one hundred works by artists ranging from Constable and Turner to Lucian Freud, Marc Quinn and Gary Hume. These includes iconic paintings such as John Singer Sargent's 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose', John Constable's two depictions of his father's flower and kitchen gardens in Suffolk, 'The Badminton Game' by David Inshaw, Waterhouse's 'Psyche Opening the Door into Cupid's Garden' and Samuel Palmer's idyllic visions of the English countryside. Among the artist's gardens, revealed through painting, printmaking, photography and sculpture there are Little Sparta, Ian Hamilton Finlay's classically inspired garden, in which sculptural works carrying poetic inscriptions lurk among trees and shrubs; a drawing by Beatrix Potter of her potted geraniums; and Howard Schooley's painting of Derek Jarman's beach garden at Dungeness. The influence of colour theory on the garden designer Gertrude Jekyll is reflected through her own watercolours and early colour photographs of planting schemes she created for her garden at Munstead Wood. Among new works made specifically for the exhibition is a spectacular installation by Anya Gallaccio employing ten thousand roses. Tate Britain until 30th August.

Tamara de Lempicka: Art Deco Icon is the first major exhibition in this country of the artist who captured the essence of modernism and the spirit of Art Deco in her work. It focuses on her most prolific period, from 1922 to the early 1940s. Bringing together some 55 paintings, many never before seen in public, the exhibition confirms de Lempicka's reputation as one of the most iconic painters of her generation. Although brought up in Moscow, she moved to Paris in 1917, as it was about to become the capital of the art world. De Lempicka's images combine the forms of traditional portraiture with geometric architectural features that capture the sense of modernity and the machine age. Her subjects are often dramatically lit, with closely cropped compositions, so that they fill the canvas with their monumental and powerful presence. It is for the development of this contemporary and unique style that de Lempicka is recognised. These paintings reflect the combination of wealth and decadence that was synonymous with the French capital in the 1920s and 1930s. As well as focusing on her many commissioned portraits, the exhibition also includes some of de Lempicka's sensual nudes and beautiful still-lifes. The Royal Academy until 30th August.

Heaven On Earth: Art From Islamic Lands is a display of the finest decorative arts of Islam - calligraphy, textiles, jewels, metalwork, ceramics and paintings, from the collections of The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and The Khalili Collection in London. The artefacts range in date from the 9th to the 19th centuries, and in origin from Spain through the Arab world to Persia and the Indian subcontinent. The exhibition is in four galleries. The first celebrates the majesty of God, with calligraphy used as a vehicle for the Qur'an - literally the word of God - from manuscripts to woven prayer rugs, and lustre tile panels from shrines, bearing verses and rich arabesque decoration. The second shows how figurative art was used in the service of earthly rulers, with bronze and ceramic birds and animals, metalwork, stone relief carving and early Iranian silver, including the 'Bobrinsky' bucket covered with dense decoration in silver and copper. The third contains jewels from the Mughal treasury, with boxes, flasks, dishes, cups and bracelets encrusted with rubies, diamonds and emeralds, and richly embroidered robes and other fine silks. The last gallery celebrates the interaction of East and West. A 10th century rock crystal lamp, carried off by Crusaders and mounted in gold and enamels in Italy in the 16th century, sits alongside sabres, daggers and other arms, richly embellished with jewels. There are also oil paintings of Qajar rulers wearing such arms, and of the ladies of their courts, in imitation of Western art, offering a curious blend of Oriental and European styles. Linking the galleries are framed miniatures from Persian manuscripts of the 16th and 17th centuries, some religious in theme, and others reflecting Islamic court life. The Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House until 22nd August.