News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st November 2000

Commencing

Gladiators And Caesars: The Power Of Spectacle In Ancient Rome latches on to the resurgence of interest in swords and sandals generated by Ridley Scott's film Gladiator. It looks at all aspects of the entertainment industry in ancient Rome, illustrated with major pieces from the British Museum's own collections, together with objects borrowed from over twenty European museums. For more than five hundred years spectacular events took place in amphitheatres, circuses and theatres across the Roman Empire. This exhibition shows gladiatorial combat (man against both man and animals, including lions, tigers, leopards, bears, elephants and even hippopotami - not to mention women against women), chariot-racing, athletics, boxing and wrestling, and the theatre. There are statues of the emperors who staged the games - including Commodus who actually participated in them - gladiatorial armour, model chariots, reliefs showing combat, theatre masks and illustrations of the arenas which held crowds of up to 200,000 spectators. There is a virtual tour of the exhibition on the British Museum web site. The British Museum until 21st January.

Hung, Drawn And Caricatured: Cartoons 1750-2000 illustrates the long and colourful history of British caricature, cartoons and graphic satire. The exhibition features more than seventy works, from the 1750's, when graphic satire established itself as a popular art form, to work by Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell and Peter Fluck of Spitting Image. British caricature in its hey day was famous for being cruelly biting, shamelessly coarse and frequently obscene. No Member of Parliament or public figure was safe from merciless pillorying by the likes of Hogarth, Rowlandson and Gillray, which would give today's spin doctors apoplexy. Unsurprisingly their work became hugely popular with the public. The exhibition is staged in another hydraulic pumping station converted to artistic use. The Pump House: People's History Museum, Manchester until 1st April.

A Logo For London: The Story Of London Transport's Trademark explores the design and use of one of the first, most successful and instantly recognised corporate logos in the world - the London Transport roundel. This exhibition tells the story from its origins as a simple station platform sign to its present day status as a London icon, comparable to the black cab and the Routemaster bus. It shows how innovators such as Frank Pick and Edward Johnston developed and shaped the design over the past 90 years, as well as how various artists and designers have incorporated the roundel into their artwork. The exhibits from the London Transport Museum's extensive archive include rare roundel signs, a selection from its world famous collection of posters, and unusual items incorporating the logo, ranging from a fork to a trophy. Lectures and a study day accompany the exhibition. London Transport Museum until April.

Continuing

Spectacular Bodies: The Art & Science Of The Human Body From Leonardo To Now charts the ark which the relationship between art and science has taken over the last 400 years. It stretches from the time when artists studied anatomy alongside medical students while human bodies were dissected, to today, when dissected animals in formaldehyde constitute art itself. (Presumable when he dies Damian Hurst will leave instructions to be "tanked" rather than buried or burned.) The exhibition has a unique combination of contents. It comprises not only works by old masters, including Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Durer and Stubbs, 17th century Dutch portraits of surgeons engaged in anatomy lessons, and contemporary artists including Bill Viola, Marc Quinn, Tony Ousler and Christine Borland, but also the saws, scalpels, forceps and other equipment actually used to get under the skin. Over 300 treasures in every medium, including many life size anatomical wax models, from 80 collections around the world, make this a gruesome, astonishing and definitive exhibition, which is contemporaneously real and surreal. A one hour audio guide is available, which is narrated by Jonathan Miller and includes interviews with the curators and artists (but not Leonardo - unless we're about to find out that he also invented the tape recorder.) Hayward Gallery until 14th January.

The Canterbury Tales is a visitor attraction whose moment has come, with the celebration of the 600th anniversary of Geoffrey Chaucer's death. Visitors can step back into medieval England in a reconstruction of the streets, houses and markets of the 14th Century. They join Chaucer's pilgrims in the Tabard Inn in London, and experience five of their best known tales of courtly (and not so courtly) love brought to life in a series of animated tableaux, as they journey towards Canterbury. The story ends in a reconstruction of the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The Canterbury Tales, Canterbury continuing.

Brand.New examines the power of consumer culture, where the label has become more important than the product itself. It looks at how, with the rise of the brand, the world has been hoodwinked into accepting propositions such as "XXX says more about you than cash ever can", as the humble 19th century trademark became the 21st century power logo. This is now a process which is rotting the very foundations of society, even leaching into charities and political parties (we don't have to look too far there). There are examples from all levels of the marketplace, with the worst merchandising excesses unsurprisingly involving football clubs. The exhibition also includes evidence of how some people are fighting back, subverting the millions which the image makers are spending, and encouraging people to question the brand managers messages. An interesting companion piece to the V&A's Art Nouveau exhibition earlier this year, as it provides a vivid contrast between the former's Tiffany lamps, Mackintosh chairs, and Lalique jewellery and the current abundant tat. Victoria & Albert Museum until 14th January.

Rock Style: Music+Fashion+Attitude is the first major exhibition in Britain to chart the influence of rock and pop musicians on style over the last fifty years, ranging from Gene Vincent, through David Bowie and Punk, to the Spice Girls and Puff Daddy. It features iconic outfits such as Elvis Presley's white jump suit, the Beatles Sergeant Pepper uniforms, Madonna's gold bustier and Elton John's platform shoes. Complementing these are classic images by fashion and rock photographers including David Bailey, Art Kane, Mick Rock and Bob Gruen, plus original album covers, vintage style magazines and concert footage and video. There is also a dressing up area where visitors can transform themselves with suits, dresses, wigs, hats and shoes inspired by the exhibition.

The Wilde Years: Oscar Wilde And The Art Of His Time looks at Oscar Wilde's lesser known incarnation of art critic and journalist, and charts his growing prominence as an icon of the Asthetic Movement. It comprises paintings, sculpture, photographs and drawings by contemporaries who interested him, reflected his influence, recorded his presence, knew him as a friend (or enemy), or reflected artistic and social events of the time. The range of work includes a Beebohm cartoon of Wilde, Sargent's portrait of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth, Frith's "A Private View At The Royal Academy 1881", Beardsley's Salome, and Epstein's sculpture for Wilde's tomb, which was originally banned as indecent by the French authorities. Barbican Centre Galleries, Rock Style & The Wilde Years until 14th January.

The Wapping Project is a new arts centre created within the former Grade 2* listed Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, opposite the Prospect of Whitby, east of Tower Bridge. Built in 1890 for the London Hydraulic Power Company, its turbines provided the force to lift the safety curtains of West End theatres, power the elevators in Claridges and the National Gallery, and raise and lower Tower Bridge, by pumping millions of gallons of water under high pressure through a system of pipes across London. A £4m project undertaken by the Women's Playhouse Trust (without Lottery funding) has saved the almost derelict building, preserved its industrial heritage, and created a multi use arts space. It opens with Conductor, an installation by Jane Prophet, created by flooding the Boiler Room and hanging 120 electro luminescent cables from a grid on the ceiling, thus linking the building's historic past to a creative future. Amid the preserved machinery in the Turbine House, alongside a performance space, there is a bar and restaurant, the furniture of which forms an exhibition in itself. Installed is a continually changing selection of contemporary furniture which can be tried out, and purchased at exhibition prices. Future plans include a bookshop and further performance spaces. Not quite on the scale of Tate Modern but nevertheless a gem. The Wapping Project, Wapping Wall E1, 020 7680 2080 until 21st December.

Imperfect Beauty: The Making Of Contemporary Fashion Photographs could be considered another milestone on the "Culture Lite" road. An ephemeral industry, which is already treated more seriously than it deserves, receives less scrutiny than it demands. With the phenomenal growth of magazine titles fashion imagery has never been so widely available. In the last decade, the distinctions between editorial and advertising photography as well as fine art and commercial styles have blurred, resulting in unprecedented opportunities for fashion image-makers. This exhibition displays examples of the world of fashion magazines, design of contemporary beauty products and fashion styling and asks "how they did it". First hand interviews with internationally renowned photographers, art directors and stylists feature alongside examples of their work. Contributors include Juergen Teller, David Sims, Melanie Ward, Fabien Baron and Nick Knight reflecting on their inspirations, working practices and perceptions of their industry. Victoria & Albert Museum until 18th March.

Concluding

Spitfire Summer marks the sixtieth anniversary of the events of 1940 when Britain stood alone, supported only by the Commonwealth and a handful of governments in exile, facing the threat of imminent invasion by German forces. Paintings, posters, photographs, newsreels, radio broadcasts, letters, diaries, newspapers and personal mementoes chronicle the turning point of the Second World War. The exhibition starts with Winston Churchill's appointment as Prime Minister, illustrated by the typescript of his first speech to the nation as leader; and moves through the Dunkirk evacuation, with exhibits such as a blood-stained flag used as an emergency bandage by the crew of the Massey Shaw; the Battle of Britain, including a love letter written by a pilot to his fiancée shortly before he was killed; and the Blitz with shelter life and bomb damage reflected in the works of artists and photographers such as Henry Moore and Cecil Beaton. Imperial War Museum until 26th November.

Gerrit Dou: Rembrandt's First Pupil although little known now, was probably the most famous Dutch painter of his day, and this exhibition places him back on the list of household names with Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals. Remaining in Leiden when his master moved to Amsterdam, Dou established a school specialising in small-scale, highly-detailed and jewel-like images. He was fascinated by trompe l'oeil effects, often setting his scenes behind illusionistic curtains or stone niches, as if his paintings were windows opening onto a miniature world. Dou is one of the great painters of light in the history of art. He painted a variety of subjects, including portraiture, still-life and religious images, but is most renowned for scenes of daily life - mothers with children, painters in their studios, scholars, musicians, astronomers, schoolmasters and shopkeepers - packed with details, many of which carry symbolic messages. This exhibition, which has been organised by the National Gallery of Art Washington, bring together thirty-five of the finest of Dou's paintings from all periods in his career. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 19th November.

Until Now: Mariele Neudecker features the work of one of Europe's most prominent artists, best known for her sculptural landscapes, creating model dioramas installed in tanks, which are so realistic you feel that you could step into them. This exhibition includes a dense woodland glade with sunlight streaming through the mist and snow-capped mountains on the scale you would view them from an aircraft. Neudecker is now venturing into new territory with video installations. "It Was Always Like This" mixes views of a mountain range with falling snow so that the peaks appear and disappear. "Another Day" is a record of the simultaneous events of the rising and setting of the sun over the sea in opposite locations on the globe at Southpoint in Australia and the most westerly island of the Azores. Also on display are a stretched skull sculpture, and an installation simulating a shaft of light from two gothic windows. Ikon Gallery, Birmingham until 12th November.