Private View held by Richard Andrews
Rodin the sculptor who heralded the modern age, receives his first London retrospective for 20 years, with a chronological display that explores his inspiration, from studies of unposed models to a love of antiquities. It begins with Auguste Rodin's early contacts and first recognition, introduces his special relationship with Britain, and explores how the support of a few artists, writers, business men, politicians and aristocrats led to recognition by an international public. Rodin brought monumental public sculpture into the 20th century, breaking with traditional and calssical sculpting methods, creating clay representations of moving models, from which a plaster copy would be taken, and after further refinement bronze casts would be made. 'The Gates of Hell', his first major public monument, 'The Burghers of Calais', 'The Age of Bronze', 'The Kiss', 'St John the Baptist' and a large version of 'The Thinker' feature amongst 200 pieces on display, including works in marble, bronze terracotta and plaster. Rodin was also a talented draughtsman and his lyrical, erotic drawings and tiny clay sketches are shown alongside period photographs of his work, together with many large plasters that have never before been exhibited outside France, largely from the Musee Rodin and the store at his home at Meudon. In his later years Rodin made many portrait busts of British people, especially members of London society, including George Wyndham, the Countess of Warwick, Lady Sackville, Eve Fairfax and George Bernard Shaw. Royal Academy of Arts until 1st January.
John Gotto: Floodscapes explores the shifting relationship of painting and photography in John Gotto's work, leading to a synthesis in digital photography. Over the past 25 years the combination of painting and photography, and their respective histories and traditions, has been Gotto's preoccupation, and employing this process, he has related global issues to everyday situations, viewed through his uniquely satirical eye. This exhibition is centred on a series of digitally manipulated ecological allegories, following the fortunes of a crew of Hooray Henries and Essex Girls adrift on the Thames, as the flood waters rise and their smug privileges are washed away.
Derby Museum And Art Gallery until 22nd October.
John Gotto's New World Circus examines the current international situation through the form of a circus performance. Gotto uses a mixture of models, mannequins and actors within his brilliantly coloured big top. American patriotic emblems, army uniforms, cowboy outfits, Union Jacks, shalwar kameez costumes, Disney characters and military insignia are mixed in with traditional circus apparel, creating an disquieting bricolage. The artistes' costumes and the acts they perform reference both the history and traditions of the circus going back to Commedia dell'arte, and the war on terror as played out in the new world order.
Focal Point Gallery, Southend until 21st October.
Poetic Prints: An Insight Into The Art Of Illustration brings together a selection of prints, books and photographs to explore the relationship between word and image, reflecting how over the centuries, artists have been inspired by both poetry and prose. The concept is of course unfashionable nowadays, but exhibition includes a diverse range of works, from William Blake's 'Illustrations to the Book of Job' to Marc Chagall's etchings of the 'Fables of La Fontaine'. In addition, a number of books are also on display, including Eclogues of Virgil by Samuel Palmer and The Well at the World's End by William Morris. The show highlights the range of different ways in which artists respond to poetry and prose, bringing new interpretations to the text. Patrick Caulfield's images are not typical illustrations but are inspired by the desire to gain greater understanding of Jules Laforgue's melancholic poems. This approach contrasts with the wood engravings of Gertrude Hermes and Blair Hughes-Stanton, which are symbolic but faithful illustrations to the text of John Bunyon's book Pilgrim's Progress. Many of the works included here have not previously been on show and have been specially conserved for this exhibition. Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, until 18th November.
Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment And Design provides an insight into the mind of Leonardo da Vinci through the pages of his notebooks, with ideas about art, science and nature that are unparalleled in the graphic work of any other thinker from any age. The exhibition features 60 examples of Leonardo's drawings, with several brought to life by large scale models of his designs, including a 30ft glider, and sophisticated computer animations. The works are grouped in four displays: 'The Mind's Eye' explores the relationship of the eye to the brain - the detailed proportional relationships between all various parts of the face, torso and limbs, presented as a series of geometrical problems that Leonardo attempted to solve. 'The Lesser And Greater Worlds' illustrates the ancient idea of microcosm and macrocosm - that the human body contained within itself, in miniature, all the operations of the world and universe as a whole, featuring detailed studies of the heart and the operation of its valves, as well as images of water in motion, which reminded Leonardo of the curling of hair. 'Making Things' focuses on Leonardo's spectacular theatrical designs, entertaining inventions such as water clocks and fountains, and his vision of architecture, including studies of buildings and a spiral staircase. 'Force' highlights Leonardo's 'cinematographic' images of figures in action, which examine the continuity of motion in space in a way that no one had captured previously, including studies of flying creatures and their anatomy, leading on to investigations into the possibility of man powered flight. Victoria & Albert Museum until 7th January.
In The City Of Last Things takes its title from the dystopian city in Paul Auster's novel In the Country of Last Things: 'a haunting picture of a devastated futuristic world which chillingly shadows our own'. Katja Davar, Paul Noble and Torsten Slama use drawing and animation to present their projections of alternative urban and social possibilities. Katja Davar's 'Forking Ocean Path' addresses the self destructive nature of mankind, and imagines the possible consequences, through 3D animation and large scale drawings. Davar presents an undersea world devoid of human life, and in one animation, a creature, part marine and part machine, slowly floats upwards through the remnants of an industrial city at the bottom of the ocean. Paul Noble's 'Unified Nobson' comprises extremely large pencil drawings depicting a fictitious industrial town. Modelled on the new towns devised in the early 20th century to create a perfect fusion of the urban and rural, the drawings offer aerial perspectives over a fantastical cityscape in which each blocky construction is crafted out of a grouping of letters that identifies its owner or function. Torsten Slama's coloured pencil drawings from the cycle 'Gardens of Machine Culture' are inspired by Chinese paintings, and recall the aesthetics of vintage science fiction, as Modernist architecture and industrial constructions merge with rocky landscapes, sparsely grown with vegetation. The depicted worlds are anti-cities in which industry and architecture, like the humans who built them, are part of an evolved nature. Site Gallery, Sheffield until 21st October.
Henry Moore: War And Utility comprises pieces produced between 1938 and 1954, revealing the profound influence of the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War and the austere post-war decade on his work. Over 160 items include key sculptures, together with maquettes, stringed pieces, studies, lithographs, textiles and the shelter drawings that brought Moore fame as a war artist in the early 1940s. Sculptures such as 'Upright Internal External Form' explore the encroaching and smothering influence of technology, and the Warrior pieces, such as 'Warrior with Shield', honour the sacrifice of combatants. The forms of the 'Family Groups', first seen sitting amidst the destruction of the blitz, are resolute against the surrounding machines of chaos and fear. With his Hampstead studio bombed, and access to his country home difficult, Moore began to sketch the devastation caused by bombing above ground, as well as producing some of his most powerful and moving drawings of Londoners sheltering from the blitz underneath the city. 70 pages from the two 'Shelter Sketchbooks' and a selection of the finished 'Shelter Drawings' are included in the display. Moore's responses to post war austerity can be seen in a selection of printed textile designs, and in the lithographs such as 'Sculptural Objects'. The reconstruction of public spaces resulted in a series of major commissions, such as the 'Harlow Family Group', the 'Festival of Britain Reclining Figure' and the iconic 'King and Queen'. Imperial War Museum until 25th February.
Sixties Graphics celebrates the huge explosion of talent in London in the mid 1960s, the era of Swinging London, with a display of graphic material including posters, magazines, photographs, album covers and other printed ephemera such as badges, from 1965 to 1972. Graphic work for now rare ephemeral publications, such as Oz and International Times, charts the emergence of 'counter-culture', the 'underground press' and the full flowering of Psychedelia, revealing the mix of idealism and visual experimentation that characterised the period. On show are key works by Peter Blake, and many of the most celebrated posters by artists Nigel Waymouth and Michael English (who worked together as Hapshash and the Coloured Coat), Martin Sharp and others, together with iconic images of music heroes of the day, such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Also included are graphics for 'underground' gatherings, together with colourful posters advertising the legendary music and light events at clubs such as UFO and Middle Earth. Many highlights of the exhibition come from the exceptional collection formed by Barry Miles, a key figure in the 1960s and founder of Indica Bookshop, the unofficial headquarters of the London alternative scene. The display documents some of the most important artistic, cultural and social aspects of this vibrant, though recently maligned, era. Victoria & Albert Museum until 12th November.
Blackpool Illuminations have extended the holiday season and entertained visitors to the seaside town since 1879, when 8 plain electric arc lamps bathed the Promenade in what was described as 'artificial sunshine'. While the basic idea remains the same, the style and scale of Blackpool's end of season electrical extravaganza have little in common with that first experiment in lighting. Traditional lamps are still used, but now alongside the newest technology such as lasers, fibre-optics, low-voltage neon and even real fire and water. The show now costs £2.4m to stage, and stretches for six miles of spectacular colour, light and movement. Among featured tableaux in this year's free show are Postman Pat and dinosaurs. Visitors can become part of the display, as they travel along the Promenade aboard a tram dressed up by lights as a wild west train, ocean liner or space rocket, from 8pm to midnight most nights.
The Festival Of Light is an accompanying programme of events and contemporary light installations. These include the 'Artificial Sunshine - The Story Of The Illuminations' exhibition, where visitors can get up close to working illuminations, and see original drawings and diagrams dating back to the 1930's; Michael Trainor's giant mirror ball installation 'They Shoot Horses Don't They?' spectacularly illuminated by Greg McLenahan, and 'The Power And The Glory', a 5m high tower of Blackpool's own junk extracted from the recycling bins and re-animated into a tower of power, light and colour; Blachere Illumination's 'Wonderland', a sparkling canopy curtain of LED lights floating as if suspended in mid air, mysteriously supporting 6 giant chandeliers; 'Guernica Three', a 50ft high Thunderbird 3 rocket, decorated with scenes from Picasso's Guernica painting; and Philip Oakley's 'The Magic Tree', a 40ft high tree with 72 constantly changing colour Pulsar Chromaspheres hanging like exotic fruit. Blackpool Promenade until 5th November.
Stubbs: A Celebration marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Britain's greatest sporting painter George Stubbs. This exhibition brings together a group of around 30 of his greatest paintings, showing the quality and range of his output as a painter of animals, of rural life, and portraits. Stubbs's treatment of country sports and rural life were meant to elevate and dignify these subjects. Long admired for his paintings of horses, Stubbs's art reflects an age of innovation and change in British culture. This selection draws attention to his treatment of exotic animals, imported from abroad, his precise approach to portraiture, his technical daring, and his enduring images of the British countryside. In the last years of his life he undertook a series of anatomical drawings that aimed to fuse art and science, but these remained unpublished and misunderstood. Among the highlights of the painting of exotic animals, including cheetas, antelope and moose, are: 'A Nylghau' commissioned by the surgeon and anatomist William Hunter as a means of illustrating his lectures; 'The Duke of Richmond's First Bull Moose', a present from the Governer-General of Canada; 'A Cheetah and a Stag with two Indian Attendants', commemorating and incident when a cheetah was let loose in Windsor Great Park; 'Horse Frightened by a Lion', one of a series of painting on this theme, allegedly based on an event witnessed by Stubbs in North Africa; and 'A Monkey', one of two versions, reflecting Stubbs's continued interest in anatomical studies. Tate Britain until 14th January.
Richard Dadd 1817 - 1888 is a rare opportunity to see some of the lesser known but extraordinary paintings of the artist whose life was the stuff of a gothic novel. A Royal Academy graduate of great promise, Dadd began to show signs of insanity, and during his cultural grand tour in Europe, felt an uncontrollable urge to attack the Pope on a public appearance in Rome. Believing he was possessed by the Egyptian god Osiris, he killed his father, convinced he was the devil in disguise. In 1843 Dadd was committed to the lunatic asylum at Bethlem Royal Hospital in London, where he spent the rest of his life - a period of 42 years. He was allowed to paint during his incarceration, and the hospital authorities kept the hundreds of works he frantically produced, many of them vivid recreations of the hallucinatory visions he experienced. Dadd's 'Passions' series refers to extreme emotions - Hatred, Jealousy, Madness and Murder are some of the titles - while other scenes relate to his periods of ecstasy, populated by nymphs, fairies and mythical creatures. One of his most celebrated paintings is 'The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke', about which the rock band Queen wrote their eponymous song. Although many of them are smaller than postcards, Dadd's miniature paintings were created with obsessively precise details, and the maritime and landscape scenes are all the more incredible given that they were entirely painted from memory. Leamington Spa Art Gallery, The Pump Rooms until 1st October.
Ron Mueck is the largest ever exhibition to be held in Britain of pieces by the Australian sculptor who specialises in ultra realistic models - although often on radically different scales. Mueck's work concentrates almost exclusively on the human figure, tracing the passage through life from birth to death. All his sculptures are made with an obsessive attention to realism, from the pores in the skin, or a mole on the neck, to the hairs on the body (individually applied) the attention to detail is breathtaking. They are so realistic that people find it hard to believe at first sight that they are not real. The power, however, is in the way Mueck uses pose, gesture and scale to engage the viewer's emotions, and to enter into the psyche of the figures he depicts. Mueck first came to prominance in 1997 with 'Dead Dad', an astonishingly lifelike (though half size) sculpture of his dead father's small, naked, vulnerable body lying on the floor. This show comprises ten works. Half of them are his most recent, including the tiny huddled, gossiping 'Two Women', the giant melancholic woman 'In Bed', the miniature 'Spooning Couple' and a new commission 'A Girl' - a giant 15ft newborn baby. Half of them are important previous works, such as 'Man in a Boat', and 'Ghost', a near 8ft figure of an adolescent girl. The show also features a film of Mueck at work, a number of documentary photographs of his studio, and a display of models, maquettes and moulds. Royal Scottish Academy Building, Edinburgh until 1st October.
French Drawings: Clouet To Seurat (Part 1 - Drawings From About 1500-1700: Clouet To La Fage), explores the innovations of the French drawing style, and traces the major artistic developments, through around 50 highlights from the earliest part of the national collection of French drawings. This includes sheets rarely seen today, because of their sensitivity to light, from royal court portraits of the 16th century by members of the Clouet family, to the elegant Mannerist style of Francesco Primaticcio and others working at the chateau of Fontainebleau. The collection also boasts rich holdings of the major masters of the Baroque, such as Jacques Callot, Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain, many of which entered the collection in the 18th and 19th centuries. The show is arranged chronologically, with major works and lesser ones jostling side by side - and a few of the lesser knowns prove surprisingly impressive. Some key artists are represented by more than one work, others by only a sketch. The entire collection covers the history of drawing and printmaking as fine arts, and comprises approximately 50,000 drawings and over two million prints, dating from the beginning of the 15th century up to the present day. The second part of this exhibition, from Watteau to Seurat, follows in October. The British Museum until 1st October.