Private View held by Richard Andrews
Alvar Aalto: Through The Eyes Of Shigeru Ban is the first major UK retrospective of the work of the Finnish architect who was a landmark figure of 20th century architecture and design, ranking alongside Modernist masters such as Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. The exhibition is designed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, renowned for his original use of materials, and explores the themes linking these two influential architects, demonstrating how they share an organic approach to design. Both architects combine traditional materials with modern technology and experimented with the idea to provide an individual human touch to pre-fabricated housing structures. It examines the development of Aalto's architectural ideas and style, featuring models, drawings, photographs and artefacts from 14 of his key projects, built mainly in Finland, Denmark, Russia and the USA. Spanning six decades, featured projects include Paimio Tuberculosis Sanatorium, Villa Mairea, AA-System Houses, Experimental House, North Jutland Art Museum and the development of the urban centre for Seinajoki. Shown alongside Aalto's original models and maquettes are newly commissioned analytical models of his buildings produced by Shigeru Ban Laboratory, Keio University, Tokyo. Also displayed are recent photographs of Aalto's buildings taken by American photographer Judith Turner, which shed new light on his work. In addition, the exhibition showcases Aalto's wide ranging product designs, including his famous stacking stool and other furniture, as well as glassware, light fittings and textiles. Barbican Art Gallery until 27th May.
Durer To Friedrich: German Drawings From The Ashmolean, spans four centuries and comprises 40 drawings by a range of the most celebrated German Old Masters. The works of 16th century artists Altdorfer, Durer, Grunewald and Holbein are displayed alongside later artists from the 19th century, including Friedrich and the Nazarenes. Highlights include Albrecht Durer's 'Youth Kneeling before a Potentate' (thought to be a self portrait of the artist); Matthias Grunewald's 'An Elderly Woman with Clasped Hands', the most striking of his few drawings to have survived; the costume study 'Figure of a Woman in Contemporary Dress' by Hans Holbein the Younger, used by Ruskin in his Lectures on Landscape to teach students the rules of drawing; 'Portrait of a Man' by Hans Burgkmair, who played a significant role in the development of the chiaroscuro woodcut; and from two centuries later, Caspar David Friedrich's 'Landscape in Bohemia with a View of Mount Jeschken', characteristic of his early sepia style where the washes were applied in a single layer on top of the original pen drawing; and Friedrich Overbeck's 'The Prophet Elijah Casting his Mantle over Elisha', drawn as part of a plan to produce an illustrated Bible. The Ashmolean, Oxford until 20th May.
Journey To The New World: London 1606 To Virginia 1607 marks the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in America. After an eventful voyage three small merchant ships arrived in Virginia, and on 13th May 1607, 104 men and boys landed to begin work on a fortified trading outpost called James Towne. Drawing on archaeological evidence and artefacts unearthed since 1994 at the site of the original settlement, together with documents and objects from London, the exhibition charts the crucial role of Londoners in the founding of the United States of America. It is a tale of daring survival, of hope and despair, conflict and failure, tragedy and triumph, and shows how ordinary and extraordinary men, women and children helped to create a new nation. It also tells of how the expedition changed forever the lives and culture of the Native American Indians already living in what was to become Virginia. Through bodices and beads, coins and cups, prints, charts, maps, astronomical and maritime instruments, it reveals the colonists' diet, health and lifestyles, their relationship with the local indigenous peoples, and their attempts to manufacture goods for trade. Tracing the story of Jamestown and the Virginia colonies from their birth to eventual prosperity with the development of the tobacco trade, it looks at the hidden story of hardship, adventure and big business behind the founding of the United States. Museum In Docklands, West India Quay, until 13th May.
Guercino: Paper To Mind celebrates the work of one of the most significant Italian artists of the Baroque period, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri nicknamed Guercino ("squinter") after a childhood incident left him cross-eyed. A prolific and fluent draughtsman, who was known as 'the Rembrandt of the South', he was hailed for his inventive approach to subject matter, his deftness of touch and his ability to capture drama and movement. This exhibition reflects the Guercino's remarkable technical and compositional ability, as well as his wide ranging choice of subject matter. The works featured include a large study of a male nude, an imaginary landscape, a caricature, a number of informal scenes from everyday life, and exploratory studies for large painted compositions. His sympathy for a variety of human situations is particularly apparent in such humorously observed scenes as 'Interior of a baker's shop'. A prominent feature of Guercino's drawing technique is his varied use of drawing media and techniques. Thus, a goose feather pen dipped in ink enabled him to record his ideas on paper quickly and easily in 'Cupid restraining Mars', characterised by its spontaneity and energy; while in 'A child seen from behind', rubbed red chalk conveys the feel of a baby's dimpled skin; and in 'Two women drying their hair', loosely applied brown wash is used to describe the cascading wet hair drying in front of the open fire. Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, Somerset House until 13th May.
Bright Wings Of Summer: Hertfordshire's Butterflies uses butterfly expert Brian Sawford's photographs as a starting point to explore the wonder and importance of butterflies and moths, the environmental pressures that they are under, and what can be done to ensure their future in a drastically changing landscape. It reveals that locally, while several species have been lost, and a number such as the Grizzled Skipper are close to extinction, volunteers are helping others such as the Purple Emperor to reassert itself in local woodland. An extensive activity programme in association with Hertfordshire and Middlesex Butterfly Conservation includes a guided tour through Tring Park, sessions making butterfly mobiles and storytelling for children, and talks about butterfly conservation for adults.
Fossil Folklore is another exhibition running concurrently, which reveals the truth behind the myths that have grown up around fossils, from dragons and griffins to fairy loaves and angels' money. Associated activities include fossil printmaking for children.
Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring - Butterflies until 22nd April, Fossils until 8th July.
Ortonesque: Joe Orton 1933 - 1967 commemorates the 40th anniversary of the death of the playwright Joe Orton, whose outrageously savage and funny take on life's darker issues led to the coining of the adjective 'ortonesque'. The exhibition takes a chronological look at his life and times, including his life in Leicester (where he was born) and London, his relationship with Kenneth Halliwell, the time spent in prison and on the dole, his alter ego 'Edna Welthorpe', his holidays in Morocco, his plays, novels and diaries, and finally, his death and legacy. The exhibition of original items and memorabilia, many of which have never been on public display before, includes the 1967 Evening Standard Award for the play 'Loot', his Morocco diaries, the fur coat that Orton's agent, Peggy Ramsay, bought him (used in the 1987 biographic film Prick Up Your Ears), the Adler typewriter that he used for many years, several of the vandalised Islington Library book covers, and the suitcase he used to visit Morocco and Libya with Kenneth Halliwell, together with literary and personal papers, comprising scripts, photographs, posters, programmes, scrapbooks, letters and manuscripts. New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester, until 7th May.
Face Of Fashion celebrates current fashion portraiture, as the boundaries between advertising, editorial and fine art blur, and the world's fashion photographers shape society's ideas of beauty, sexuality and fame. The exhibition features five photographers from Europe and America. Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott are famous for off beat but glamorous portraits of stars such as Kate Moss, Uma Thurman, Drew Barrymore and Bjork. Producing a strange, and at times anxious, intensity in their constructed images, they create fantasy for the modern age. Corinne Day, an ex-model who has worked with Kate Moss for 15 years, collaborates closely with her subjects, developing a rapport that results in some of the most candid portraits in fashion. Her portraits generated much of the anti-glamour movement of the 1990s. Steven Klein often creates complex and dark narratives in his portraits, including a 'family' sequence with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in which they mock their perceived personas. He is widely acknowledged as one of the most subversive and transgressive of contemporary fashion photographers. Paolo Roversi uses traditional studio techniques and stage lighting to create naturalistic, fragile portraits of his subjects, among them Sting, Juliette Binoche and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Influenced by 19th century portrait photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron, he revels in an ethereal, soulful beauty. Mario Sorrenti is fascinated by people's faces and the passions, fears and vulnerabilities they are capable of communicating. Equally adept at endorsing conventional notions of glamour as he is at subverting them, Sorrenti embodies much of the ambiguity of today's fashion photography. National Portrait Gallery until 28th May.
Callum Innes: From Memory brings together a selection of some of the most significant works by one of Britain's most prolific and rigorous artists, and offers an opportunity to trace the development of his paintings over the past fifteen years. The work of Callum Innes is the result of repeated application and removal of paint from the canvas. Although the final result is calm and authoritative, his paintings nevertheless bear traces of the controlled chaos of their production. He works in series, and examples of 'Identified Forms', 'Isolated Forms', 'Repetitions', 'Monologues', 'Resonances' and paintings made with shellac are included in the exhibition. The 'Monologues' are monumental works made by brushing turpentine into a simply painted ground and dissolving the paint into an expressive, associative torrent. In the shellac paintings Innes draws on the oppositional qualities of shellac and paint to make luminously associative imagery. A major part of the exhibition is devoted to the series of 'Exposed Paintings', in which the canvas is divided geometrically into fields of dense and dissolved paint, and unpainted ground. The exhibition reveals how this series has diversified over time. In a new sequence of paintings, Innes exploits the possibilities offered by dissolving violet into and against black in a range of differently proportioned horizontal bands. Modern Art Oxford until 15th April.
Good Impressions: Image And Authority In Medieval Seals looks at medieval life and identity through the images used on seals. Sealing documents was an ancient practice that came to the medieval world through the mediation of Byzantium. The golden period of sealing dates from the 12th to the 14th century, when even the peasant classes used lead seals decorated with simple flowers, stars and crosses. By the 16th century the signature was replacing the seal and the practice fell out of favour apart from at the highest civic levels. Seals were used customarily in financial transactions and abuses were common. An example is the 12th century forgery of Henry II's Great Seal, which is made of lead, whereas the genuine - now lost - seal would have been silver. The lead seal is on display since it remains an accurate representation of how English rulers wanted to be seen from the time of the Norman Conquest until today. Silver examples are shown alongside it, such as that buried with Isabella of Hainault in 1190 and that of Robert Fitzwalter, opponent to King John and proponent of Magna Carta. Fear over the validity of documents meant that many were countersealed. Kings, bishops, nobles and their ladies in the 13th and early 14th century were avid collectors of Classical gems and often used Roman intaglios to counterseal their documents. The recent find of a 13th century seal-die from Swanley in Kent incorporates a high quality representation of the Emperor Antoninus Pius. British Museum until 1st May.
The Triumph Of Eros: Art And Seduction In 18th Century France explores themes of love and eroticism. The impetus for the exhibition, and at its core, is a recently discovered collection of rare French erotic engravings, collected in the 19th century Tsar Nicolas I, which has never been seen outside St Petersburg. The exhibition begins by examining the resurgence of interest in the ancient Roman and Greek god of erotic passion Cupid, or Eros, in 18th century French visual culture. It shows how his image was depicted, from paintings by Boucher on the theme of Cupid as an allegory of the arts, to an inkstand by the Sevres porcelain factory, with Cupid mischievously drumming on the inkwells. A highlight is the marble sculpture 'Menacing Cupid', by Etienne-Maurice Falconet, produced for Madame de Pompadour, which quickly became the most famous modern visual representation of Cupid, and was reproduced in many forms. Cupid's ever present influence upon different representations of love and seduction include not only idealised visions of love's triumph, such as Boucher's 'Pastoral Scene', but also representations of frustrated and thwarted love, as depicted in Watteau's 'Capricious Girl'. However, the exhibition also probes the ways in which the erotic in 18th century French art could easily slip over into the pornographic, the decent into the indecent. Works by Lancret, Nattier and Fragonard, including 'The Swing', explore the nature of disorderly passion, voyeurism and sexual licence, pushing at the boundaries of what was, and perhaps still is, deemed aesthetically acceptable. Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House, until 8th April.
The Gospels Of Tsar Ivan Alexander provides an opportunity to view a triumph of late medieval manuscript art, commissioned in 1355 by Tsar Ivan Alexander, the ruler of Bulgaria, who presided over a period of a spiritual and artistic revival. The manuscript, which is preserved in near perfect condition, is a remarkable survival, and the most celebrated work of art produced in Bulgaria before it fell to the Turks. The Gospels' pages are lavishly illustrated with 367 fine illuminated miniatures, executed in colours and gold. The text of the Gospels was copied by a monk named Simeon, who, in a colophon (a note on the commissioning and making of the manuscript) states that the volume was begun in 1355, and completed in one year. Close examination of the 367 illustrations suggests that they are the work of a team of artists, probably at least three in number, and their style of painting, pictorial models and adherence to complete anonymity, place them within the wider tradition of Byzantine book illumination. The Slavonic text of the Gospels is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, a refined form of the script first developed in the middle of the 9th century by St Constantine-Cyril, who translated the Christian scriptures by modifying the letters of the Greek alphabet to suit the phonetic needs of the local language. The opening pages of the volume include portraits of the Tsar, and his family, and though represented in formal poses, they display a striking individuality. British Library, until 31st March.
Soviet Times: Russian Times 1917 - 2007 is a small but powerful exhibition of 40 photographs from the archives of Russian News and Information Agency RIA Novosti, covering the most controversial, unstable and difficult period of Russian history - the 90 years following the 1917 Russian Revolution. Using the turbulence of the Bolshevik Revolution as its starting point, the exhibition charts the changes this country has undergone over the last nine decades, from the industrialisation of the 1930s through the Second World War and Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and economic and social developments since then. Many of Russia's finest photographers have worked for the Agency or have their images in its archives. The exhibition has examples from Soviet era photographers such as Max Alpert and Arkady Shaiket, together with their more recent counterparts such as Dmitry Donskoi and Vladimir Vyatkin, who are the current employees of RIA Novosti. Among the examples of Vladimir Vyatkin's work, are the image of a federal reconnaissance unit in Chechnya, awarded a gold medal at the World Press Photo 2002, and the photograph Waterbirds, showing female swimmers practising technique, awarded a gold medal at Interpressphoto 2003. The images in this exhibition, many of which have rarely been seen before, give a glimpse of these moments in history, as experienced from the Russian perspective. Guildhall Art Gallery, London until 30th March.