News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th March 2006

Commencing

Michelangelo Drawings: Closer To The Master offers a unique insight into the creative thinking of one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance. The 95 drawings collected here are artworks in their own right, but also provide a link between his work as a sculptor, painter and architect. The common strand is drawing, as the originality of his works was arrived at only after an exhaustive process of refinement on paper. From pen studies made in his early twenties to the visionary Crucifixion scenes carried out six decades later, this exhibition reunites material not seen together since the dispersal of his studio in 1564. It offers an opportunity to gain an understanding of Michelangelo's artistic powers, and the invention and development of some of his most celebrated works. His primary focus was the male body, and the drawings chart his search to find poses that would most eloquently express the emotional and spiritual state of his subjects. Among the highlights here are 15 studies related to the Sistine Chapel, ranging from diminutive sketchbook pages with quickly penned ideas for poses, to some of his most exquisitely finished red chalk figure studies. The drawings are complemented by two paintings based on designs in the exhibition, 'Christ Purifying the Temple' attributed to Marcello Venusti, and a copy after his lost 'Leda and the Swan'; sculptural models, including two portraits of the artist; and a contemporary album of architectural drawings. A dozen letters written or addressed to Michelangelo give an insight into his way of thinking and an impression of his complex, prickly nature. The British Museum until 25th June.

Legoland is celebrating its 10th birthday with four new attractions. There has been a make-over in Miniland, the area that contains nearly 40 million Lego bricks, and the London skyline has been brought up to date with the addition of contemporary landmarks, including Canary Wharf, 30 St. Mary Axe (The Gherkin), The Lloyd's Building, City Hall and the Millennium Bridge. Digger Challenge allows young builders aged four and upwards to enrol at construction school, and run amok in full control of one of 10 junior sized JCBs. The Spellbreaker 4D Show is a medieval adventure film, featuring a princess, a wizard and a dragon, which puts the viewers in the middle of the action, with spine tingling physical effects they can feel, as well as the 3D special effects that leap out of the screen. A live action show, Secret Of The Scorpion Palace, featuring the exploits of Johnny Thunder, is full of daring high dives, fast paced action sequences, exciting jet-ski races around the City Harbour and plenty of audience participation. These join the existing rides, including The Dragon Coaster, Pirate Falls, Space Tower, Sky Rider and Jungle Coaster. In addition, there is a programme of special events, including Fireworks, After Dark Laser Show, Jousting, Wild West Weekend, Football Fever, Amazing Machines and Marvellous Gardens. Legoland, Windsor, until 29th October.

The Road To Byzantium: Luxury Arts Of Antiquity brings to London a collection of classical Greek, Roman and Byzantine luxury artworks, including finely decorated silver and gold, Athenian red-figure vases and exquisite cameos. Over 160 objects tell the story of the development of art and civilisation over more than a thousand years, from 5th century BC Greece to the Middle Ages, and overturn assumptions that ancient Classical influence on art disappeared from the Christian art of the Byzantine Empire. The story starts with the 'Greek Revolution,' which combined fidelity to nature with ideals of harmony and beauty, represented by items such as the 'First Swallow of Spring' vase from the late 6th century BC, and examples of goldwork, including a quiver cover with scenes from the life of Achilles. Roman artists drew on Greek conventions, as illustrated by delicately engraved gems and cameos, and adapted them to the representation of Roman subjects, such as the marble bust of the Emperor Augustus's wife Livia. Even after Christianity had become the dominant religion of the Empire in the 4th century AD, and Constantine the Great had moved the heart of the Roman Empire to Constantinople, the Classical style continued, as shown by a group of textiles, including a portrait of the goddess Ge, reflecting the continuing interest in 'pagan' mythological themes. Highlights include a group of silver and silver-gilt dishes from the 6th and 7th centuries AD, one depicting a pastoral scene that harks back to the art of Hellenistic Greece. Even later pieces still show stories of Greek heroes: Ajax quarrelling with Odysseus, the doomed lovers Meleager and Atalanta, and Silenus and Maenad, the followers of Dionysus. Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House until 3rd September.

Continuing

Searching For Shakespeare is the biggest ever exhibition to focus on Shakespeare in his own time, drawing directly on original records relating to the playwright and his contemporaries. The centrepiece is the first portrait presented to the newly founded National Portrait Gallery in 1856, which is considered to be of William Shakespeare, and is known as the 'Chandos' portrait. However, the identity of this picture is still considered unproven and there is no certain lifetime portrait of England's most famous playwright. Displayed together for the first time alongside the 'Chandos' portrait, are five other 'contender' portraits, purporting to represent Shakespeare, and once thought to derive from the 16th and 17th centuries. The exhibition presents the results of new technical analysis and research on several of these pictures, casting new light on the search for Shakespeare's authentic appearance. It demonstrates that the 'Chandos' portrait has the strongest claim to be an authentic likeness, and a presentation reconstructs its probable original appearance. The exhibition also features portraits of Shakespeare's contemporaries - actors, playwrights and patrons, original 17th century costumes, jewellery, silverware and manuscripts. Among the treasures are Shakespeare's will, manuscripts recording the plays performed at the court of James I, the purchase of a house in Stratford upon Avon, the acquisition of a family coat of arms, the Parish Register (the single most important document for determining the essential details of Shakespeare's biography) and a drawing of the Swan Theatre - the only known contemporary drawing of an Elizabethan stage. National Portrait Gallery until 29th May.

A Touch Of The Divine is the first exhibition in Britain devoted to the 16th century Italian artist Federico Barocci, exploring his career and examining the influence and impact of his work. Barocci was born in into a family of distinguished craftsmen and astrologers, and was one of the most famous artists in Italy of his day. Most of his paintings were altarpieces, and many of them are still in the churches for which they were made. He was also a prolific draughtsman and more than 2,000 drawings by him survive. This exhibition comprises over 90 items, two thirds of which are by Barocci himself, the remainder being examples of work by artists such as Raphael, who influenced Barocci, and subsequent artists who were influenced by him, such as Rubens. Some are studies for paintings, while others are drawings in their own right. They are almost exclusively religious in nature, thanks to the patronage he received, and range from a small study of a donkey to complex compositions. Many of the drawings are executed in pen and ink, some using chalk for highlighting. There is also a notable group of head studies in coloured chalks and some very detailed pieces such as 'Il Perdono di San Francesco', which was made by engraving and etching on copper plates. Among the highlights are 'Head and shoulders of a swaddled baby, lying down', 'Study for the head of St Francis', 'Study for The Institution of the Eucharist' and 'The Annunciation, with a view of Urbino through the window and a cat sleeping in the foreground'. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge until 29th May.

lbers And Moholy-Nagy: From The Bauhaus To The New World is an opportunity to rediscover two pioneers of Modernism, Josef Albers and Laszla Moholy-Nagy. Though their careers overlapped only briefly, teaching at the Bauhaus, they shared the same creative visions: an emphasis on experimentation, the subversion of traditional boundaries between high and applied art, and a Utopian belief in art as a force for positive social change. The exhibition starts with their early independent abstract work, centres on the creative explosion of the Bauhaus years, when they both moved freely between medias and disciplines, and then charts their separate paths following emigration to America, where both men continued to push the conventions of artistic practise. It comprises over 200 works in a variety of media, ranging from painting and moving sculptures, to photography, film, furniture and graphic design. They include Albers's glass constructions from the 1920s, his largely unknown photographic work, machine engravings, and a group of early 'Homage to the Square' paintings, together with Moholy-Nagy's innovative photography, such as his 'camera-less' photograms and photomontages, colour photography and film, and experiments with aluminium, and novel synthetic materials such as Perspex and Rhodoid. The highlight is a reconstruction of Moholy-Nagy's 1930 'Prop for an Electric Stage', a dramatically lit kinetic work, comprising several rotating elements on a plinth, which cast light and shadow on the surrounding walls - arguably one of the earliest examples of installation art. Tate Modern until 4th June.

Americans In Paris 1860 - 1900 examines the work of the American artists drawn to Paris to study and work during the second half of the 19th century. The exhibition includes works by high profile artists such as James McNeill Whistler, including his 'White Girl' (hugely controversial when first shown at the notorious Salon des Refuses of 1863) and 'Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 Portrait of the Artist's Mother'; and John Singer Sargent, including the painting that helped make him a sensation in Paris 'Portrait of Madame X', 'The Daughters of Edward Darley', 'Portrait of Carolus-Duran', 'Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood' and 'In the Luxembourg Gardens'. Alongside there are artists who are less familiar, such as Theodore Robinson - 'The Wedding March'; Henry Ossawa Tanner - 'The Young Sabot Maker'; Willard Leroy Metcalf - 'In the Cafe (Au Cafe)' and 'The Ten Cent Breakfast'; and Frank Weston Benson - 'Eleanor'. Something like a third of American art students in Paris at this time were women, and among those represented here are Cecilia Beaux; Elizabeth Nourse; Ellen Day Hale - 'Self Portrait'; Elizabeth Jane Gardner (the first American woman to win a medal at the Paris Salon) - 'The Shepherd David'; Mary Fairchild - 'In the Nursery - Giverny Studio'; and Mary Cassatt (the only American to show with the French Impressionists) - 'Young Woman in Black (Portrait of Madame J)'.

Cassatt was also an accomplished print maker, and a separate solo exhibition includes prints from all stages of her career.

National Gallery until 21st May.

Charley Peters: My Secret Rooms merges the boundaries of the real and the imaginary within the home. Peters has created a collection of photographic narratives, where the domestic environment becomes the setting for a series of visual stories. They are tales in which dreamers furtively aspire to the mythologies of the movie world, or enact various enigmatic rituals, generally involving feminine empowerment. In Peters's images something exquisitely sensual, although somewhat otherworldly, always appears to be going on behind half closed doors. Her disguised protagonists are drenched in a suspenseful mood of film noir shadows, wearing stiletto heels, fishnet stockings, and Monroe wigs. Looking at female protagonists in literature and using imagery built around make believe, childhood play and fantasy, Peters investigates the links between the interior spaces of the physical body, the mind and the home. Often taking the lead role in her own scenarios, she invites visitors to take a peek into a world inhabited by familiar faces in this series of secret rooms. Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery, until 8th April.

Amazon To Caribbean: Early Peoples Of The Rainforest explores the cultural links between the inhabitants of mainland South America and the Caribbean. This exhibition looks at the Amerindian cultural identity from the rainforests to the islands. It comprises ethnographic cultural artefacts, from headdresses made of parrot and other feathers, decorated combs, armlets, body ornaments and jewellery, body paint containers and applicators, jaguar skin belts and other items of ceremonial dress, decorated canoe paddles, anaconda themed textiles, baskets and carved stools (representing power), to archaeological finds, including weapons and hunting implements (both ceremonial and practical, such as clubs, blowpipes, arrows and spears), ceramic pots and gourds, utensils employed in the production and consumption of the staple crop cassava, and tools of all kinds, many of which have never been on display in Britain before. These traditional artefacts are accompanied by carving, sculpture and paintings by leading contemporary artists, such as Aubrey Williams, Ronald Taylor and Oswald Hussein, whose works, though modern, draw on traditional themes, narratives and motifs, that portray the Amerindian spirit as a force that continues to endure. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, London SE23 until 31st October.

Concluding

The Art Of White explores how the colour white in art has come to depict a raft of emotions that stand as powerful symbols. 80 works, spanning 500 years, from religious scenes to still lifes, portraits to photographs, and snow scenes to sculpture, illustrate how the colour is far from neutral. Purity, innocence, moral goodness, sterility, peace, spirituality and meditative silence are all expressed through the use of the colour in works by artists as varied as Picasso, Martin Creed, Robert Ryman, Turner, Constable, Landseer, Valette, Philip Wilson Steer, Rossetti, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Andy Goldsworthy and Michael Craig-Martin. The inspiration behind the exhibition is L S Lowry's obsessive use of white in his paintings. He studied how white paint changed colour over time, and discovered that his preferred lead based white paint gradually turned to shades of cream and brown. A selection of Lowry works on display reflect this obsession, from his depiction of pollution laden industrial skies from the 1930s to solitary figures isolated against dense white backgrounds painted towards the end of his life. The exhibition also includes a specially commissioned work by Natasha Kidd, comprising a network of copper pipes running above the gallery through which white emulsion paint is circulated. The flow is interrupted by series of taps, which results in a constant stream of paint drips running down a set of steel plates, leaving streaks on the smooth metal surfaces, with variable pumping pressure causing ever changing paint distribution, creating bumps, ridges and 'stalactite' paint formations. The Lowry, Salford until 17th April.

Lawrence Of Arabia: The Life, The Legend is a biographical exhibition marking the 70th anniversary of the death of T E Lawrence, exploring the life of the writer, adventurer, archaeologist, intelligence officer, diplomat and serviceman, who was one of the British icons of the 20th century. It covers his early years, wartime experiences in the Middle East and the role he played in the Arab Revolt, his growing fame after the war, the writing of 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom', his 'disappearance' into the services and his untimely death following a motorcycle accident in 1935. A further section of the show examines the creation of the Lawrence legend, propagated by the illustrated travelogues of Lowell Thomas, and how this has been sustained in books, films and the media. The exhibition features a wide range of original materials, many never publicly displayed before, illustrating aspects of Lawrence's life, including his letters, diaries, Arab robes, photographs, film, paintings, personal effects and memorabilia. Highlights are a recently discovered map outlining Lawrence's proposals for the reconstruction of the Middle East after the First World War (showing that he opposed the creation of a single state of Iraq); the Arab Revolt flag raised at the capture of Akaba in 1917; a gilt bronze wreath that Lawrence found on Saladin's tomb in Damascus; and the Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle that Lawrence was riding at the time of his fatal accident. Imperial War Museum London until 17th April.

China: The Three Emperors, 1662 - 1795 presents the artistic and cultural riches of the three most powerful rulers of China's last dynasty, the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors. Some 400 works include such treasures as paintings and painted scrolls, jades and bronzes, porcelain and lacquer ware, precious robes and embroideries, palace furnishings, scientific instruments, weapons and ceremonial armour, and examples of calligraphy. They are largely drawn from the unique collections of the Palace Museum in Beijing, which was established on the site of the Imperial Palace, built in 1420, known as the Forbidden City. It combines the former imperial collections, and very few of its works have ever been seen outside China before. A spectacular range of paintings and objects illustrate the various activities, projects and accomplishments associated with the three emperors. Using the great painters of the court and the principal workshops of China who were at their command, they had themselves portrayed in magnificent paintings and commissioned dazzling works of art to the glory of the state. Among the highlights of the exhibition are court paintings illustrating the many different occasions that marked the calendar. Huge hanging scrolls 18 yards long, hand scrolls and albums show imperial palaces, hunting expeditions and journeys undertaken across the empire, together with representations of ceremonial events such as royal visits and the emperors' birthday celebrations. Royal Academy of Arts until 17th April.