Private View held by Richard Andrews
Fra Angelico To Leonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings brings together the finest group of Italian Renaissance drawings to be seen in this country for over 70 years. The exhibition charts the increasing importance of drawing during the period between 1400 and 1510, featuring 100 works by amongst others Fra Angelico, Jacopo and Gentile Bellini, Botticelli, Carpaccio, Leonardo da Vinci, Filippo Lippi, Mantegna, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian and Verrocchio. In addition, infrared reflectography and other non-invasive scientific analysis of the works give fresh insights into the techniques and creative thinking of Renaissance artists as they experimented with a freedom not always apparent in their finished works. It was during the 1400s that artists began to make drawings as works of art in their own right, signifying the beginning of a wider appreciation of graphic works, which were beginning to be collected and preserved. This rising importance of drawing is evident in works such as Mantegna's mordant allegory of human folly, the 'Virtus Combusta' or later examples of finished presentation drawings such Leonardo's silverpoint 'Bust of a Warrior' from the 1470s. A highlight is the first surviving study for a panel painting: Lorenzo Monaco's study in the Uffizi for the left-wing of his 'Coronation of the Virgin' altarpiece, the first time the drawing and the related panel have been brought together. The exhibition gives a broad overview of the development of drawing throughout Italy, but with a particular emphasis on Florence, whose artists' works were characterised by the depiction of movement and the expression of emotion and states of mind, and Venice, whose artists' approach was dominated by atmospheric light and colour. British Museum until 25th July.
A World Observed 1940 - 2010: Photographs By Dorothy Bohm is the first major retrospective of the Prussian born London based photographer, widely acknowledged as one of the doyennes of British photography. This comprehensive exhibition brings together over 200 of Dorothy Bohm's photographic images from a career spanning more than six decades and several continents, many of them seen in public for the first time. The show reveals a wide array of aesthetically striking yet deeply humane, visually sophisticated yet immediately accessible photographs, which document a rapidly changing world in the second half of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Bohm's early portraits are displayed in a reconstruction of her Manchester studio, while a separate replica darkroom demonstrates the now almost forgotten technique of black and white photographic processing. She abandoned studio portraiture for 'street photography', travelling widely, and capturing insights into the changing face of post Second World War Europe, as well as the USA, the USSR and Israel. In the early 1980s, transitioning through exploring the potential of Polaroid photography, Bohm turned exclusively to working in colour. Since then, although the human figure in its natural setting is still the primary focus of her work, and she continues to use photography in its purest, unmanipulated form, her approach has become more painterly, with an ever greater interest in spatial and other forms of ambiguity. Manchester Art Gallery until 30th August.
Rainforest Life is a new £400,000 exhibit that brings the vegetation and wildlife of the South American rainforest to the centre of London. It is a walkthrough hot and humid tropical wilderness, with 550 plant species, including 8m tall trees imported from Costa Rica, where visitors can experience close up free running mammals, birds and insects, at both forest floor and treetop canopy levels. Among the animal species living in the no glass/no bars central biome are golden lion tamarins, Goeldi's monkeys, Geoffroy's marmosets, pottos, slow loris, slender loris, emperor tamarin, lemurs, pygmy marmosets, agoutis, armadillo, tamandua and sandbitterns. 10 species in the exhibit are endangered, and it is hoped that they will breed in these ideal conditions, safe from predators. Computer sensors disguised as trees fire off a mist sprinkler system to keep humidity levels between 70-80%, and temperature is maintained at 20-28C.
Night Life is a completely different environment, but just as spectacular, revealing how the rainforest comes to life at night, where visitors can come face to face with the bats, rats, glow in the dark scorpions and other nocturnal creatures who make the dark their home.
London Zoo, Regents Park continuing.
Quilts 1700 - 2010 explores 300 years of British quilt making in the first major exhibition of its kind in this country. It comprises more than 65 quilts from a cot cover made in the 1690s to recent examples by leading contemporary artists including Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry, as well as special commissions by Sue Stockwell, Caren Garfen and Jo Budd. The extraordinary variety of quilts range from the highly decorative and opulent, such as the Bishop's Court Quilt, once believed to have been created by a Duke for a visit from King Charles II in 1670, to modest homemade bed covers, all testifying to the creativity and imagination of the makers. Where appropriate the quilts are displayed on bed mounts as they were originally designed to be seen, including a unique set of 1730 patchwork bed hangings. Highlights include a silk and ribbon cot quilt from Deal Castle, with portraits of the children who slept beneath it and the maker's diary written in code, revealing political intrigue and family life in the 18th century; a cotton coverlet depicting George III Reviewing the Troops, where the maker, an unknown young woman, has inserted her portrait into several of the military scenes; the 1829 Elisabeth Chapman coverlet, commemorating Wellington's Victory at Vittoria, once believed to be a marriage token, but now revealed to be an epitaph connected to a macabre Georgian tale; and the Rajah quilt, made in 1841 by women convicts aboard the HMS Rajah as they were being transported to Van Dieman's Land. There are also prints and paintings, including one by Hogarth, as well as additional contextual material such as personal diaries and keepsakes relating to the quilts and their makers. Victoria & Albert Museum until 4th July.
Francis Bacon: In Camera explores the works of one of Britain's most important 20th century artists from the perspective of his working processes. The exhibition features significant oil paintings by Francis Bacon from 1944 to1989, including 5 works never seen in Britain before, alongside the artefacts and images that inspired them, including archival material from his studio, photography and film stills. Bacon always asserted that his paintings appeared as if by magic, but close examination of visual imagery from his studio shows that Bacon followed a complex and idiosyncratic form of preparation, based largely on film and photography. What is revealed are photographs, often twisted and torn, and papers ripped and folded, in a process that in many ways becomes a method of preparatory drawing. Bacon colluded in the myth of his own spontaneity, yet sheets from a notebook found at his studio show careful planning - akin to laundry lists - of exactly what he planned to paint on a particular day. For all Bacon's legacy of portraits, he only ever painted four sitters from life, and their experiences reinforce the hidden side of the artist's approach. When Lucian Freud arrived at Bacon's studio to sit for a portrait he discovered the painting virtually finished (based on a photograph of Franz Kafka). In 1949, Bacon's fusion of a Velazquez portrait with stills from the Odessa Steps sequence in Eisenstein's iconic film Battleship Potemkin was crucial to his developing agenda to make figurative art 'modern'. The exhibition explores the influence of films by directors such as Bunuel and Resnais, together with photographs by Muybridge and John Deakin, which informed Bacon's reconfigurations of the human body. Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 20th June.
Relics Of Old London: Photography And The Spirit Of The City offers an insight into photography's historic, and ongoing, role in documenting the texture of the urban environment. Prompted by the imminent demolition of the Oxford Arms, a galleried inn near St Paul's, to make way for the expansion of the Old Bailey in 1875, the Society for the Photographing of Relics of Old London was established. The society decided to use photography as a means of documenting buildings that represented old London that were threatened with destruction, and publishing the results in an annual report. To accompany it, from 1881 onwards, a descriptive text was added, providing a historical background to each of the buildings. This exhibition presents a selection of these photographs from the 1870s and 1880s taken by A & J Bool, and later, Henry Dixon & Son, which capture some of the buildings and streets that were the legacies of earlier centuries, with many showing examples of Tudor or Stuart architecture. In the mid 19th century, these were periods which were often considered to be the most romantic in English history. Both photographers created views within the picturesque aesthetic that was to remain popular with British photography well into the 20th century. As suggested by their name, the Society for Photographing Relics of Old London's principal concern was with the disappearance of an older pre-industrial London. By including buildings of a more domestic scale, the Society showed that urban vernacular architecture was both of historic interest and architectural merit, equally, if not more, at risk than grander public buildings. Royal Academy of Arts until 22nd June.
Leighton House Museum has reopened following a £1.6m restoration and refurbishment programme. One of the most remarkable buildings of the 19th century, the house was the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton. Built to designs by George Aitchison, it was extended and embellished over a period of 30 years to create a private palace of art. The Arab Hall is a two storey internal courtyard designed to display Leighton's priceless collection of over a thousand Islamic tiles, mostly brought back from Syria, Turkey and Persia, in which is set a box-shaped Mashrabiya window transplanted from a building in Cairo, and a mosaic fountain. A golden mosaic frieze encricles the room, elaborate decorative paintwork illuminates the domed ceiling, and coloured marble clads the walls evoking a compelling vision of the Orient. The opulence continues through the other richly decorated interiors, with gilded ceilings and walls lined with peacock blue tiles by the ceramic artist William De Morgan. On the first floor is Leighton's grand painting studio with a great north window, dome and apse, which was also the venue for Leighton's celebrated musical evenings. The house reopens with a special exhibition that reassembles Leighton's collection of paintings, hanging in their original positions for the first time since the collection was dispersed in 1896. The paintings include works by many of Leighton's contemporaries, including Burne-Jones, Millais, Watts and Costa. In addition, there is a film and photographic exhibition on the refurbishment process. Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Road, London, opening exhibition until 12th July.
Underwater brings together artworks created during the past decade inspired by the sea and the underwater world. The exhibition features works by 10 international contemporary artists, from sculpture and paintings to video and soundscapes, with depictions of sublime seascapes, mermaid-like creatures and monsters of the aquatic. Exhibits include videos by Bill Viola, in which two lovers intertwine as they slowly descend into dark waters, Janaina Tschape, where a woman's head rocks from side to side, just beneath the water's surface, and Dorothy Cross, with a woman wafting in sunlit water that teems with jellyfish, her hair billowing with their pulsating forms; drawings by Ellen Gallagher, conjecturing a monstrous creature that has evolved in the far depths, part natural history specimen, part science fiction, and Ed Pien, suggesting a nightmarish underwater realm, in which ghastly creatures do battle; Daniel Gustav Cramer's photographs of the seabed with towering rocks and rising silts; a motorized model submarine by Cut and Scrape lurching about in the clutches of a giant squid, straight from the pages of Jules Verne; tapering metallic sculptures by Klaus Osterwald, suspended as a shoal from the ceiling, emitting the strange chirrupings of fish, as recorded by underwater microphones; Shirley Kaneda's paintings, precise yet free squiggles that are a play on refraction and reflection; and Seunghyun Woo's sculptures of imaginary aquatic flora and fauna, suggesting liquid movement and distortion. Towner Gallery, Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, until 20th June.
Christen Kobke: Danish Master Of Light is the first solo exhibition of paintings by one of the greatest talents of Denmark's Golden Age outside his homeland. This exhibition comprises 48 of Christen Kobke's most beautiful and distinguished works, spanning a variety of genres: landscape, topography, portraiture and his oblique depictions of national monuments informed by an avant-garde sensibility. They present some of the most innovative aspects of his work, including outdoor sketching, his fascination with painterly immediacy and his unique treatment of light and atmosphere. The paintings include scenes from his home town, such as 'The Northern Drawbridge to the Citadel in Copenhagen', 'View of the Citadel Ramparts Towards Langelinie and the Naval Harbour' and 'Cigar Seller at the Northern Exit from the Citadel'; portraits of many of his family and closest friends, such as 'Portrait of the Artist's Mother, Cecilia Margrete, nee Petersen'; detailed representations of fellow artists, such as 'Portrait of the Landscape Painter Frederik Sodring'; of rural scenes, such as 'View from Dosseringen Near the Sortedam Lake Looking Towards Norrebro'; and of Danish national monuments such as 'Frederiksborg Castle, View Near the Montbro Bridge' and 'Roof Ridge of Frederiksborg Castle'. These are possibly the smallest paintings (some less than 12 inches wide), with the longest (and most specific) titles. Denmark's 'Golden Age' has become known as 'the age of Kobke', and his precise and clear-cut manner, sharp focus and pristine light are now synonymous with the image of this time of unsurpassed creative flowering. National Gallery until 13th June.
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.
Paul Nash: The Elements features works by the British artist who painted beautiful landscapes of the Downs, strange flooded rooms, and classic images of two World Wars. The exhibition brings together around 60 of Paul Nash's paintings and watercolours, from throughout his career. The paintings include Nash's work as a war artist, together with a selection of his own photographs, which are shown with his photographic collages. The exhibition includes interiors, abstracts and still lifes, as well as the landscapes for which he is best known. The works shows elements in conflict, in paintings and drawings from different periods of Nash's life. These include his early drawings of night time dangers, a group of his troubled political paintings of the 1930s, and the war paintings, including the iconic 'Totes Meer (dead sea)' in which an undulating sea of German aircraft wreckage covers an English landscape. Many of Nash's landscapes show a path through or between elements with figures entering a wood, or cross a threshold into a different region. He painted nests and refuges within elements of wood, stone or earth, and his photographs reveal his search for such places in the countryside and in his own arrangements of objects. Nash looked for what he called 'equivalents' between differing elements of nature, in search for harmony between them. The balance of design and colour that he found within the natural world of sea, stone, earth and sky lead to some of his most emotionally moving paintings. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 9th May.
An 18th Century Enigma: Paul de Lamerie And The Maynard Master reveals the brilliant craftsmanship of the greatest silversmith working in England in the 18th century. Paul de Lamerie, a Huguenot, came to London with his parents, fleeing persecution in France. His success lay not only in his own exceptional creativity in producing stunning objects, but also in his ability as a businessman, retailing some astonishingly spectacular silver, using the most effective and innovative suppliers in the trade. The silver shown in this display is associated with de Lamerie's most brilliant craftsman, whose identity is still a mystery, known simply as the Maynard Master, named after the dish made for Grey, 5th Baron Maynard. The exhibition comprises masterpieces including the lavishly decorated Walpole salver, with engraving attributed to William Hogarth; the Newdigate centrepiece, richly decorated with characteristic Rococo motifs, but also containing elements typical of de Lamerie's work, such as the helmetted putti; a coffee or hot water pot, stand and lamp; a pair of candlesticks, recognisable as the work of the Maynard Master, by the plump cinnamon bun scrolls at the corners, and the large-headed youths on the stems; the Chesterfield wine cooler, with panels chased with the elements Fire, Air, Earth and Water; a lion mask (one of the signature elements of the Maynard Master); and the Maynard Dish itself, the piece that marked the first appearance of the artistic personality responsible for de Lamerie's most ambitious commissions. Victoria & Albert Museum until 9th May.