News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th February 2010

Commencing

Mrs Delany And Her Circle is the first exhibition to survey the entire life and the full range of a significant figure in natural history in Georgian England. Mary Delaney was a pattern of accomplishment and curiosity for her contemporaries, and became a model to subsequent generations. The exhibition brings together art, fashion and science: fields that are now generally conceived as separate realms of cultural practice, but that were intimately connected in the varied circles in which Mrs Delany thrived. The centre pieces of the show of collages, drawings, letters and embroideries, include sections of Delany's court mantua, the court dress magnificently embroidered with naturalistic flowers dramatically displayed against a black satin background, the first time that these surviving sections of fabric have been brought together; and her 'paper mosaic' botanical studies of flowers, collages of coloured papers with watercolour and body colour on black ink background, part of her magnum opus the 'Flora Delanica'.

Promiscuous Assemblage, Friendship & The Order Of Things is an accompanying site-specific installation by artist Jane Wildgoose, which is a celebration of the friendship between Mrs Delany and Margaret Cavendish, second Duchess of Portland. The extravagant cabinet of curiosities evokes the 'Promiscuous Assemblage' described in the catalogue that accompanied the sale of the Duchess's 'Portland Museum', a collection of natural history specimens, fine and decorative arts, and curiosities, at a 38 day auction comprising over 4,000 lots. Wildgoose offers a perspective on the ways in which the natural history collections of the 18th century reflect the interlacing of the manners, taste, friendships and material culture of the people who assembled them.

Sir John Soane Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, until 1st May.

Durer And Italy focuses on the engravings of the German artist who was the first to achieve fame through his prints. The exhibition presents engraved masterpieces by Albrecht Durer alongside contemporary Italian works, and illustrates the cultural exchange that took place in the years between 1500 and 1528. Durer made two journeys to Italy, during which he promoted himself as an artist, studied art, and met engravers and exponents of the art of perspective, which was still unknown in Germany. Durer's prints were of two kinds: for the popular market he designed woodcuts, which were cheap and often sold as bound sets, the most popular being two series of the 'Passion of Christ' and the 'Life of the Virgin'. His astonishingly detailed engravings were relatively expensive, and appealed more to artists and collectors, presenting figures and landscapes of unparalleled beauty that rapidly became highly fashionable, especially in Italy. Durer's work was soon known to Raphael in Rome, who did not make prints himself, but provided sketches to be engraved by artists such as Marcantonio. The exhibition includes two of Marcantonio's best known works, 'Judgement of Paris' and 'Massacre of the Innocents', which provide a contrasting classical vision to Durer's, tinged by his roots in Gothic illustration. Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, until 22nd March.

Shaped By War: Photographs By Don McCullin is the largest ever British exhibition about the life and work of one of the world's most acclaimed photographers. For more than 50 years, Don McCullin's images have shaped the awareness of modern conflict and its consequences. His courage and integrity, as well as the exceptional quality of his work, are a continuing inspiration and influence worldwide. This exhibition contains over 200 photographs, objects, magazines and personal memorabilia, and shows the effect war has had on McCullin's life. It examines McCullin's uncompromising drive to be on the frontline and document events as they unfold, the influences on his work, and his impact on others. The display reveals the moral dilemmas of bearing witness to and photographing conflict. Set in the context of world events and major changes in photography and journalism which have occurred in his lifetime, items on display for the first time include his US Issue Army Helmet worn in Vietnam, and a camera fractured by a sniper's bullet in Cambodia, as he was taking a photograph. Most black and white images have been handprinted by McCullin himself, and are stunning examples of his darkroom skills. Key images are also displayed via lightboxes, banners and projections - methods that have never before been used to show his work. The exhibition explores how, indirectly, conflict continues to shape Don McCullin and his work today, including cultural change in Britain, landscapes of England, still life photography, and his most recent work, documenting the former Roman Empire. Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, until 13th June.

Continuing

Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective celebrates the extraordinary life and work of one of the most powerful American painters of the 20th century, who was a seminal figure in the formation of Abstract Expressionism. The exhibition includes over 150 paintings and drawings from across Arshile Gorky's career, and a handful of rarely seen sculptures. The Armenian born artist arrived in America in 1920, fleeing persecution in his home country, where he adopted the name Arshile Gorky with reference to the Russian writer Maxim Gorky. He studied the Modern European masters in books and galleries, teaching himself art by combining this with art classes, in Boston and New York. Gorky's early still-lives show his reliance upon the examples of Cezanne, Picasso, Miro and others, but his portraits in the 1920s and 1930s, especially the two versions of 'The Artist and His Mother', show how he poured his personal experiences and studies into a highly individual realism. During the 1940s Gorky encountered Surrealists exiled from wartime Europe, and stimulated by their ideas of free flowing, automatic painting, he rapidly developed the style for which he became famous. Seminal works such as 'Waterfall' are evocative, layered, and translucent, with a liquid glowing quality. Other highlights in the exhibition include 'Landscape Table', and paintings from the 'Garden in Sochi' and 'The Betrothal' series. Gorky's characteristic paintings of this final period include biomorphic forms in strong colours, shifting abstract elements and the energetic line that he developed in his drawings. Tate Modern until 3rd May.

The Greek And Roman Gallery has reopened following a £950,000, 18 month period of conservation, research and redisplay, which has transformed one of the museum's most popular collections. Prior to this, the gallery had remained fundamentally unchanged since the 1960s. The redesign creates a modern setting that complements the gallery's 19th century architecture, and vastly improves object display, lighting and layout. It has been undertaken in collaboration with historians and classical archaeologists from the University of Cambridge's Classics Faculty, and reflects some of the questions that are being currently asked about the ancient world. The collection includes Greek and Roman sculpture, from a portrait of Plato to an enormous faceless 'caryatid' figure; intricately carved sarcophagi; sacred figurines; funerary items; and everyday objects, from dress pins and helmets, to a 3,000 year old cosmetics box and a Roman 'Swiss Army knife', and even an example of ancient graffiti. Also showcased are treasures from Emperor Hadrian's vast country palace at Tivoli, near Rome, including a marble head of the leader's young lover Antinous, produced after the youth's death by drowning in the Nile, and a black marble relief depicting the adventures of the Argonauts and Odysseus. Some of these treasures are on public view for the first time following conservation. The new display is arranged in a loosely chronological order, and a map and timeline show the close relationship between the Greek and Roman worlds, giving a greater sense of the time and place these objects came from. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, continuing.

The Half showcases the work of Simon Annand, a photographer of leading actors in the West End for the last 20 years. The exhibition provides a rare glimpse into the dressing rooms of actors in their private time before the show. 'The Half' is the half an hour before the curtain goes up, during which actors make up, dress, and focus their concentration for the performance, and is strictly private. Whatever has gone on during the day, the actor must use this time to make a transition into the fictional character of the play. These photographs pay tribute to the dedication of stage actors, and reveal not only technical skills, but also aspects of a very personal nightly ritual (not to mention the less than glamorous surroundings). Among those featured in the display are Gillian Anderson, Cate Blanchett, Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Kiera Knightley, Jude Law, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave, Kevin Spacey and Rachel Weisz. Victoria & Albert Museum until 11th April.

Van Doesburg And The International Avant-Garde: Constructing A New World is the first major exhibition in Britain devoted to the Dutch artist who was a pivotal figure of the European avant-garde. Theo van Doesburg, who worked in art, design and text, founded the far reaching movement and magazine De Stijl. This artistic movement of painters, architects and designers sought to build a new society in the aftermath of the First World War, advocating an international style of art and design, based on a strict geometry of horizontals and verticals. Van Doesburg travelled extensively in Europe in the 1920s, making connections and collaborating with avant-garde contemporaries. This exhibition explores van Doesburg's role as promoter of Dutch Neoplasticism, his Dada personality, his efforts to influence the Bauhaus, his links with international Constructivists, and his creation of the group Art Concret. The show features over 350 works, including van Doesburg's rarely seen Counter-Composition paintings and designs for the Cafe Aubette in Stasbourg, and furniture such as Rietveld's iconic Red-Blue chair, as well as typography, magazines, stained glass, film, music, sculpture and more. In addition there are works by key artists in the movement, such as Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Piet Mondrian, Francis Picabia, Gerrit Rietveld, Kurt Schwitters and Sophie Taeuber. Tate Modern until 16th May.

Anderson & Low: Circus features a series of 50 striking images of members of an international circus troupe working on Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low show the artists both on stage performing, revealing their power, strength, beauty and skill, and in individual studies, set amongst the amusement park rides, shorn of the false glamour, revealing an aura of sad and surreal awkwardness. The photographs are a study in the way performance and costume shape identity. They go deeper than the average performance photograph, seeming to capture something of the soul of the sitter. Despite the flamboyant costumes and extravagant make up the images exude a sort of reverential hush. The supple bodies of the performers are frozen by the camera into precise sculptural forms, revealing their physical reality with a special intensity. Anderson and Lowe use light very carefully, employing high key chiaroscuro to create unsettling visual drama in steep relief and dark swathes of shadow. The light force comes from outside the frame, lending an unreal otherworldliness that exalts the extraordinary power learnt, owned and expressed by the performer. In addition, Anderson and Low have taken their first step into video art, with a loop of several films staggered over three screens, to show an acrobat coiling and twisting his way downward from the ceiling on strips of silk. The Lowry, Salford, until 11th April.

Dinosaurs Unleashed is the Britain's largest animatronic, life sized dinosaur experience, with 24 full size dinosaurs in a new outdoor interactive enclosure - in Oxford Street, opposite the Marble Arch Marks & Spencer. It is a Jurassic Park style prehistoric adventure on a truly epic scale, offering the chance to get up close and personal with the largest and most fearsome creatures the Earth has ever seen, walking alongside the giants of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Visitors can meet Stegosaurus, Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, marvel at massive Diplodocus three times the length and double the height of a double-decker bus, come face to face with infamous Tyrannosaurus rex, taller than the tallest giraffe, and tremble at the sight of small but vicious Velociraptors. A prehistoric aquarium using the latest computer graphics brings the prehistoric underwater world to life. Alternatively, visitors can put themselves in the picture in the 'scream' experience or in the 'green screen' theatre The exhibition is entirely based on current scientific thinking, with expert paleontologists ensuring that it is as accurate as possible. As they say: it's the family day out that London's been waiting 65 million years for. Parklife, 455-497 Oxford Street W1, until 30th April.

Concluding

Points Of View: Capturing The 19th Century In Photographs examines the development and influence of photography, from its invention in 1839 up to the growth of a popular amateur market in the early 20th century. The exhibition shows how photography has played a critical role as a primary means of visual expression in the modern age. It explores the dramatic transformations in world order during the 19th century that shaped much of the world we live in today. From the first tentative 'drawings of shadows' produced in the mid 1830s, to its universal acceptance as a leisure pursuit, photography was swept along by a tide of entrepreneurial activity throughout the 19th century. As an influential new artistic and documentary medium, photography rapidly developed into a lucrative profession. Science, government, industry and a growing media quickly recognised its power to reflect and to shape society, while both artists and amateurs embraced its potential for personal expression. Beginning with the work of William Henry Fox Talbot and other influential pioneers, the exhibition includes many of the most celebrated names in 19th century photograph such as Francis Frith, Felix Teynard and Samuel Bourne. Some 250 images range from portraits of the famous, through the industrial, technological and scientific triumphs of the age, and first glimpses of exotic locations around the world, to the everyday working (and playing) lives of ordinary people. British Library until 7th March.

Eric Gill: Sacred And Profane features iconic etchings and wood engravings revealing the contradictions between the late Victorian artist's deeply held religious faith and his controversial sexual interests. This exhibition examines these polarities in the engraver, typographer and sculptor, whose legacy has been dogged with accusations of incest and bestiality. Eric Gill became one of the most prolific English artists of his generation, and over a long career produced more than 100 engraved designs for books, becoming intricately linked with the Arts and Craft movement. Gill's work is characterised by a fervent Roman Catholicism, and images of saints, Biblical scenes and crucifixions dominate. However, these are juxtaposed with drawings of an often overtly sexual nature: couples embrace passionately, and nude figures pose provocatively, frequently in the shadow of the heavens. Gill somehow found a way of accommodating both deeply religious and sexual imagery. The undeniably elegant typographical designs are understated, yet extremely powerful, and almost eerie. Among the highlights are: a self-portrait, captured in profile, in which his stare is thoughtful and intense; 'Stay Me With Apples', which perfectly combines the religious and erotic, with the embracing couple wearing halos; 'Lovers, Man Lying', which is even more graphic in its portrayal of ecstatic abandon; and the most haunting image, 'Girl in Bath' a portrait of Gill's daughter, who he was accused of sexually abusing, with her head sunk towards her knees, so that her emotions are obscured, inviting the viewer to contemplate both the workings of her mind and Gill's tarnished legacy. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 28th February.

Revolution On Paper: Mexican Prints 1910 - 1960 is the first exhibition in Europe focusing on the great age of Mexican printmaking in the first half of the 20th century. Between 1910 and 1920 the country was convulsed by the first socialist revolution, from which emerged a strong left-wing government that laid great stress on art as a vehicle for promoting the values of the revolution. This led to a pioneering programme to cover the walls of public buildings with vast murals, and later to setting up print workshops to produce works for mass distribution and education. Some of the finest of these prints were produced by Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, known as 'los tres grandes'. The best known print is Rivera's 'Emiliano Zapata and his Horse', which has achieved iconic status. Other prints, including Rivera's portrait of Frida Kahlo, Siqueiros's 'Dama Negra', and Orozco's 'The Masses', demonstrate the breadth, imagination, and quality of the work. There is a wide range of material, with single-sheet artists' prints, posters with designs in woodcut or lithography, and illustrated books on many different themes. The exhibition also includes earlier works from around the turn of the century by Jose Guadalupe Posada, who was adopted by the revolutionaries as the archetypal printmaker working for the people, and whose works included macabre dancing skeletons. The Taller de Grafica Popular was formed in 1937 by Luis Arenal, Leopoldo Mendez and Pablo O'Higgins as a graphic arts workshop influenced by communism, and Angel Bracho's striking red and black poster 'Victoria!', celebrating the allied victory over the Nazi's, is a key example of the TGP's anti-Fascist stance. British Museum until 28th February.