Private View held by Richard Andrews
The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around a thousand works covering paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 9,000 submissions. The new president, sculptor Phillip King, wanted to increase the number of works by new younger artists chosen on merit, at the expense of works by academicians chosen by their supposed divine right, but his attempt seems to have failed. However he is determined to succeed next year so watch out for fireworks. There will be also be a gallery devoted to the American abstract artist Frank Stella, and an installation based on a railway wagon by Eduardo Paolozzi in the courtyard. Meanwhile King has a new work of his own, Reel 3 - a magenta, orange and blue steel construction - unveiled on the forecourt of the British Council offices at the end of the Mall adjoining Admiralty Arch on 1st June. Both the Royal Parks and Westminster Council opposed its installation but lost at the planning appeal. Looks like King is an all round popular guy. Further details from the Royal Academy web site via the link opposite. Royal Academy of Arts until 7th August.
Two Painters: Alfred Wallis and James Dixon brings together over 70 works by two men whose speciality was the sea, and who are misleadingly classified as naïve or primitive. Alfred Wallis began painting views around Penzance in 1925, specialising in the area between land and sea - ports, bridges and estuaries - often using boat paint on irregular shaped pieces of board. James Dixon lived on Tory Island off Donegal, and like Wallis, began life as a fisherman. As well as views he also painted allegorical subjects, usually oils on paper or board. Both men came to painting late in life, bringing a fresh and professionally respectful eye to their subject matter. Tate Gallery St Ives until 29th October.
Inside Out: Underwear And Style In The UK unflinchingly takes a peek in Britain's underwear draw. It reveals specimens which range from the mass production of M&S (can they really sell such a mountain of mini-briefs) through Agent Provocateur (more S&M than M&S) to the more exotic (read really expensive) creations of Alexander McQueen and Antonio Berardi. Technical innovations currently under development include the alarm bra, which can monitor the heartbeat and act as a rape alarm. The exhibition is curated by the British Council, and if you thought that they only sent out tours of Shakespeare to the outer reaches Commonwealth - well this is what is meant by accessibility. Design Museum until 2nd July.
Dulwich Picture Gallery is the location for latest £8m Lottery funded project for the Queen to reopen. Sir John Soane's original structure (a classic and still imitated design which was originally as big a talking point as its contents) has been refurbished and restored to its original appearance. It has also involved the creation of a new building linked to it by a glass and bronze cloister, into which services have been moved, thus releasing extra gallery space. Rick Mather, who designed the National Maritime Museum's Neptune Court, has created a new block forming a quadrangle with the existing structure, which contains the Sackler Centre for Arts Education, a practical art studio for the gallery's extensive education programme, the Linbury Room, a flexible space for lectures and exhibitions, and a new Picture Gallery Café. The opening exhibition is the story of gallery itself, how Soane designed and built it, and how it has developed to the present day. The original collection was assembled by Noel Desenfans and Sir Francis Bourgeois, whose mausoleum is part of the gallery. Further details from the Dulwich Picture Gallery web site via the link opposite.
Somerset House has emerged from Inland Revenue occupation as a public building, with the Queen Mother doing the honours. A £48m Lottery funded scheme by Peter Jenkins, of Inskip & Jenkins, has refurbished the South Building, restoring a riverside entrance on the Embankment, complete with a ceremonial Navy commissioners barge. The project provides galleries to house the Gilbert Collection of decorative arts (ranging from jewel encrusted snuff boxes to silver-gilt gates from a Russian Orthodox church) in the King's Barge House, the restoration of the Seamen's Waiting Hall, and an inevitable cafe. Still to come, The Hermitage Rooms, displaying highlights from The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg will open in the autumn, and the existing Courtauld Institute Gallery will be expanded to include a new department of digital and video art. Sir Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones, fresh from their National Portrait Gallery extension, have restored the riverside promenade terrace and linked it to Waterloo Bridge. They have also restored the central courtyard to its original 18th century appearance, designed new fountains, and made provision for it to be used as an open air performance venue. Further details from the Somerset House web site via our Heritage section, and the Gilbert Collection web site via our Museum section, and the Courtauld Gallery web site via our Galleries section.
Carnivalesque is a celebration of the art of the satirical, the subversive and the world turned upside down, from the medieval Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel through old masters such as Goya and Daumier to contemporary video installations. It is crammed with images of fools, hunchbacks, dwarves (if one is allowed to call any of them by those names any more) demons and grotesques in all manor of situations. There are so many examples of the morbid, the bizzare and the macabre, that the exhibition is spread over three galleries. The confining hand of the Catholic Church on European societies appears to have provoked a more substantial and dramatic backlash in their enthusiasm for Carnival than its British seaside confinement to the Punch and Judy show and annual street parade. Suitably therefore this show launches in Brighton, then moves on to Nottingham and Edinburgh. Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Fabrica Gallery and University of Brighton Gallery until 2nd July
Fun de Siècle features more than 30 novelty and commemorative wallpapers, ranging from depictions of the Coronation of Edward VII through Batman to Manchester United, taking in Beatrix Potter, the Flintstones and the Beatles on the way. It provides an opportunity to marvel at how someone could actually live with lime green and silver foil parrots on their walls, and awake memories of personal wallpaper-enriched moments.
Endings is the first in a three part sequence of exhibitions to be staged this year called The Times Of Our Lives, which will examine human experience in relation to time, and events common to us all throughout our lives from birth to death. It looks at farewells, sleep, dreams, and happy endings as well as death in all its manifestations - in conflict, through illness, murder and suicide. As a Millennium exhibition, the death of Christ also features as an important theme in the show, which includes over 100 works by artists such as Dürer, Rembrandt, Blake, Goya, Millais, Sickert, Henry Moore, Evelyn Williams and Abigail Lane. The range covers modern and historic paintings, sculpture, drawings, watercolours, prints, textiles, wallpapers and other applied arts. Wentworth Gallery Manchester, Fun de Siècle until December, Endings until 2nd July.
Tate Modern is finally open to the public, after more previews than a Broadway show (and an equally star studded audience). Swiss modernist architects Herzog and de Meuron's £134m Lottery funded conversion of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's Bankside power station catapults London into the top three of the world modern art gallery league. There is no special opening exhibition, the building itself and hitherto un/hardly seen work from the Tate's 20th century collection are deemed attractions enough. The towering turbine hall, with its Star Wars overtones, allows for the display of work on the scale of Louise Bourgeois 30ft metal spider, through which visitors can walk, and four fully accessible steel towers with mirrors on top. The riverside galleries permit 60% of the collection to be shown, as opposed to just 15% at Millbank, with Richard Long's slate circle of rough hewn stone echoing Carl Andre's infamous bricks, which make a return appearance.
The Indiana Amish And Their Quilts is an exhibition which establishes beyond doubt that with their rich colours and intricate patterns quilts are art as well as handicraft. All the more surprising considering the dark traditional dress of their creators, descendants of Swiss Anabaptists, who still live a 19th century existence. The exhibition also includes clothes, toys, dolls and an original buggy. The American Museum in Britain, Bath until 29th October.
Fragments Of Narrative might be described as the antidote to Tate Modern. The now disused Wapping Power Station houses an installation by Christie Brown, consisting of incomplete life size clay human figures hanging from the rafters. It evokes a strange combination of inspirations - the remains of previous inhabitants, Frankenstein's failures, attempts at cloning and replication, and the practice in some Catholic countries of placing wax models of diseased limbs outside churches in the belief that it will assist the healing process. Curiously affecting but not for the squeamish. Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, London E1 Information 0906 302 0085 until 18th June.
Sonic Boom is the largest exhibition of sound art ever staged in the UK, with twenty two sound installations, in which the visitor encounters the mechanical and organic, the electronic and the acoustic, the sculptural and the intangible. Many are interactive, including those by Greyworld, who have converted the approach staircase and ramps to be foot sensitive sound environments activated by approaching visitors, Project Dark, who "play" biscuits, human hair and glasspaper on turntables, and Paul Burwell's bicycle driven record player which is amplified by a giant horn. Hayward Gallery until 18th June.
Animal Magic is a multimedia event, providing the opportunity to build a mythical beast, make up an animal story with shadow puppets, and take a closer look at animals in art. It is divided into three sections. Fun And Fantasy looks at how artists create, design and communicate their ideas about animals - both real and imaginary. Show Stoppers centres on how animals are represented in art, including a three metre high birdcage, and a giant whale made from two Cornish fishing boats. Animal Detectives offers the opportunity to work as both scientist and artist, using microscopes and magnifying glasses to study birds and cats. Croydon Clocktower, Croydon, 0181 253 1030 until 4th June.