News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st November 2006


David Hockney Portraits is the most comprehensive survey of the artist's portraits ever staged, comprising almost 200 works - paintings, drawings, prints, sketchbooks and photocollages - made over the past five decades. Offering the opportunity to see many works together for the first time, it provides a visual diary of the life, loves and friendships of one of the most admired British artists of his generation. The portraits provide insights into the Hockney's intense observations of the people he has charted over many years, including his parents, designer Celia Birtwell, art dealer John Kasmin and some of the leading cultural figures of the 20th century, such as Andy Warhol, Man Ray, Christopher Isherwood, Lucien Freud and W H Auden. Some of Hockney's most personal and powerful works are included in the exhibition, starting with very early self portraits and studies of his father created during his years at Bradford School of Art. Also brought together are the almost life size double portraits 'Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott', 'American Collectors (Mr and Mrs Weisman)', 'My Parents' and 'Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy'. While showcasing major examples of Hockney's work from his time in Britain and California, including 'Peter Getting out of Nick's Pool' and 'Divine', the exhibition concludes with new work, marking his return to large scale painted portraits. It also celebrates Hockney's many innovations in the art of portraiture, from his Cubist influenced photographic collages of the 1980s to his recent camera lucida drawings. National Portrait Gallery until 21st January.

Vive la Parisienne examines the portrayal of women in Parisian life in the late 19th century, at a time when the Impressionist movement was capturing the emerging modern world with spontaneity and life. The exhibition focuses on how the leading exponents of Impressionism were concerned with life in the city centre and the portrayal of the 'Parisienne'. It explores how women and their activities formed a large part of the artists' subject matter, and reveals the wide spectrum of approaches, comparing the settings for these paintings and their sitters, and examining the role of the modern woman in Paris - from chorus girls and artists' models, to the domestic realm and polite society of the middle and upper classes. Works on display include Degas' 'Chanteuse de Cafe-Concert', Pissarro's 'Mme Pissarro Sewing Beside a Window', Helleu's 'Portrait', Toulouse-Lautrec's 'La Passagere du 54', Renoir's 'Misia Sert' and Cassatt's 'Portrait of a Woman'.

Liz Rideal: Fall, River, Snow is the premiere of a unique film installation, shot at Niagara, Burleigh Falls and Big Cedar in Canada this year. It is in three parts entitled 'Water Drape', 'Ice Steam', and 'Deer Portrait', is projected outdoors onto the natural landscape of a lake and trees, and focuses attention on the mesmeric power of scenery. Shot on Super 8, these silent films are a meditation on the beauty of the natural world, tracking the movement of water, snow packed firm on land, a lake, wheeling gulls, camouflaged deer moving through woodland, a double rainbow, and the snow laden branches of trees.

Compton Verney Art Gallery, both exhibitions until 10th December.

Britannia & Muscovy: English Silver At The Court Of The Tsars offers a unique opportunity to see some of the most important surviving 16th and 17th century English silver, together with Russian gold and silver of the same period, preserved in the Kremlin's Armoury Museum. The relationship between English monarchs from Elizabeth I to Charles II and Russian Tsars from Ivan the Terrible to Alexey Mikhaylovich was a close one, and silver pieces and richly adorned weapons were prominent amongst diplomatic gifts. The silver in the Kremlin avoided being melted down, the fate of much English silver during the English Civil War, and so remains to give an insight into the opulence of Elizabethan and Jacobean court life. Among the English highlights are a gilded silver heraldic leopard vessel over three feet high; a unique silver-gilt perfuming pot and stand; a silver-gilt ewer over two feet high, its handle in the form of a serpent, its spout a winged dragon and the lower half of the body finely engraved with Tudor roses and thistles; and a pair of presentation belt pistols with barrels elaborately decorated in steel, mother-of-pearl and damascened gold. Russian treasures include a gold 'kovsh', a traditional vessel set with rubies, sapphires and pearls; a gold cup adorned with large precious stones and enamel; an elaborately chased, carved and gilded 'bratina' or loving cup; and an icon of the Virgin of Vladimir, with a silver cover profusely decorated with sapphires, emeralds, turquoise and pearls. Shown alongside these historical treasures are some examples of contemporary Russian gold and silver ware. Gilbert Collection, Somerset House until 28th January.


Velazquez traces the career of the 17th century Spanish painter through around forty paintings - almost half his surviving works. Throughout his life Diego Velazquez demonstrated an increasing ability to observe and record reality, achieving ever greater physical and psychological naturalism. The exhibition reveals this development through examples of his portraits, religious and mythological paintings. It begins with a selection of the 'bodegone' scenes (ordinary people in settings where food and drink figure prominently) such as 'The Waterseller of Seville' and 'An Old Woman Cooking Eggs', together with religious works 'Adoration of the Magi', 'Kitchen Scene with Christ in the House of Mary and Matha', and 'Temptation of St Thomas Aquinas', portraits 'Sor Jeronima de la Fuente' and 'Pedro de Barberana y Aparregui', and mythological works such as 'Apollo at the Forge of Vulcan'. Portrayals of the court life include paintings that show their popular pursuits, such as hunting 'Philip IV as a Hunter', several examples of equestrian portraits, including 'Infante Baltasar Carlos in the Riding School', and portraits of court figures including the court dwarf, Francisco Lezcano. Finally there are Velazquez's later mythological paintings and portraits, including, 'Mars' and 'The Toilet of Venus' (The Rokeby Venus), 'Pope Innocent X' and the royal children 'Infanta Maria Teresa in Pink', 'Infanta Margarita in Blue' and 'Infante Felipe Prospero'. National Gallery until 21st January.

Bronte Abstracts are a series of works made over the past year by the contemporary British artist Cornelia Parker, in response to artefacts in the parsonage in which the Bronte family lived, and the sisters wrote their novels. The house is now displayed as a 'period home', with the Brontes' furniture, domestic objects, artworks and personal belongings, set out to give an impression of the house in their own time. Cornelia Parker's works are displayed throughout the parsonage alongside these original contents to encourage new ways of looking at the collection and at contemporary art, to celebrate the connections between creativity, past and present, and reflect the way in which the Brontes' lives and works have continued to inspire writers and artists across three centuries. The works include scanned and electron microscope images of items from the collection, including a split end of Anne's hair, pinholes made by Charlotte, the tines of a comb burnt by Emily, and a quill, together with images of amendments to Charlotte's manuscript of Jane Eyre, held in the British Library. In addition, there are sound installations in certain rooms that document a visit made by two psychics to the parsonage, and a video recording of Phyllis Cheney, who claims descent from Branwell. Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth until 31st December.

Game On surveys the forty year history, contemporary culture, and future of video games. This very interactive exhibition explains the game design process from the conceptual drawing through to the finished game, and identifies the key creative people who make them. It charts the development of games and hardware from PDP-1‚ the computer that ran the world's first video game‚ Space War in 1962‚ and the world's first manufactured arcade game‚ Computer Space from 1971, through to the recent consoles like the Nintendo DS and Xbox 360, and illustrates how content and technologies are interrelated in advancing new ideas. There is also a specially commissioned large scale street art influenced work by UK artist and illustrator Jon Burgerman‚ which takes the form of an immense timeline of games and gaming history‚ incorporating classic games as well as cultural and political events, and technical advances that resonate with the history of computer games. The exhibition assesses the influence games have had on culture in Europe, North America and Japan, particularly in relation to cinema, pop videos and other visual media. A series of special events will examine many of the issues linked to games and gaming, and their positive and negative effects on society. The entire history of the games industry is laid out‚ explained, and ready to play, with over 120 games, from classics such as Space Invaders‚ Asteroids and Ms Pac-Man, to the latest cutting edge creations, available for visitors to try their skills. The Science Museum until 25th February.

Twilight: Photography In The Magic Hour comprises around 50 works by international contemporary artists who have explored the visual and psychological effects of twilight, when sensibilities change and potential-laden atmospheres emerge, facilitating the subversion of normality, the darker side of fantasies and the fairytale gone awry. The works are: Robert Adams monochrome 'Summer Nights' series, taken along the Eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, focusing on trees, sky and the shape of the land; Gregory Crewdson's 'Twilight' and 'Beneath the Roses' series, elaborately constructed cinematic tableaux of bizarre, primeval rituals staged in pristine suburbs; Philip-Lorca diCorcia's 'Hollywood' series, with hustlers and drifters along Sunset Boulevard at the moment when natural light and artificial light are in perfect balance; Ori Gersht's new film installation, and his 'Rear Window' series, recording dramatic twilight skies above London; Bill Henson's photographs of Australian landscapes at dusk, showing industrial 'no-man's lands' that lie on the outskirts of cities, peopled by androgynous figures; Chrystel Lebas's 'Abyss' series, using panoramic long exposures to capture the eerie atmosphere of forests at dusk in France, Germany and Japan, and 'Between Dog and Wolf' her triptych made in the Arctic circle; Boris Mikhailov's 'At Dusk' series, taken in Kharkow in the Ukraine following the collapse of the Soviet Union; and Liang Yue's 'Several Dusks', shot on the streets of Beijing, where the haziness of dusk is precipitated by dust, sandstorms and pollution. Victoria & Albert Museum until 17th December.

Far Horizons: Artist Travellers 1750-1850 features the work of British artists who travelled before the age of mass tourism in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Canada and India. These intrepid artists journeyed for many reasons, ranging from broadening their experiences and visual education to recording foreign lands and cultures as part of scientific or military expeditions. Their work captures some of the pioneering spirit seen in that of American artists, bringing reports of unknown worlds back to 'civilisation'. This display includes watercolours and drawings by landscape artist John Robert Cozens, whose images of Switzerland and Italy have a sense of mystery and power; portraitist Allan Ramsay, who made frequent visits to Italy; John Webber, enlisted as a draughtsman on Captain Cook's third voyage, visiting such diverse destinations as Tonga, Siberia and Vancouver Island, with works mainly in watercolour and ink; William Callow, who recorded his extensive sightseeing trips throughout Europe in delicate pencil drawings; David Cox, with views of travels to Paris, northern France and the Low Countries; John Frederick Lewis, who lived for some years in Spain and Cairo and recorded Islamic culture; Edward Lear, who documented his explorations in India; and the master of the romantic ruin, Samuel Palmer with visions of Rome. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh until 10th December.

Power And Taboo: Sacred Objects From The Eastern Pacific examines the concept of taboo in the Polynesian region, the English word taboo having been introduced into our lexicon from the area via Captain Cook's journals. Polynesia is a triangular region with New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island at its corners, populated from a shared homeland beginning approximately 1,500 years ago. The exhibition focuses on religious practice in the 18th and early 19th century, prior to extensive mission and other expatriate influence, when religion encompassed all aspects of human activity, the success or failure of which depended on divine favour, and having an active and appropriate relationship with the gods. Wrapping sacred objects in barkcloth, feathers or coconut fibre was a way of containing their might. Highlights include an enigmatic A'a figure from the Austral Islands; a feather god head from Hawaii; an intricate nephrite tiki pendant from New Zealand; a unique 4m long god staff from the Cook Islands, wrapped in layer upon layer of barkcloth; a tattooed fisherman's god sculpture; and a fibre god image from the Society Islands. Paintings contemporary to the period by William Hodges evoke the landscapes in which these objects were produced, and a sense of the people who inhabited these islands is provided by drawings and prints of Polynesians, in many cases holding or wearing objects identical to those on display. British Museum until 7th January.


Poetic Prints: An Insight Into The Art Of Illustration brings together a selection of prints, books and photographs to explore the relationship between word and image, reflecting how over the centuries, artists have been inspired by both poetry and prose. The concept is of course unfashionable nowadays, but exhibition includes a diverse range of works, from William Blake's 'Illustrations to the Book of Job' to Marc Chagall's etchings of the 'Fables of La Fontaine'. In addition, a number of books are also on display, including Eclogues of Virgil by Samuel Palmer and The Well at the World's End by William Morris. The show highlights the range of different ways in which artists respond to poetry and prose, bringing new interpretations to the text. Patrick Caulfield's images are not typical illustrations but are inspired by the desire to gain greater understanding of Jules Laforgue's melancholic poems. This approach contrasts with the wood engravings of Gertrude Hermes and Blair Hughes-Stanton, which are symbolic but faithful illustrations to the text of John Bunyon's book Pilgrim's Progress. Many of the works included here have not previously been on show and have been specially conserved for this exhibition. Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, until 18th November.

Sixties Graphics celebrates the huge explosion of talent in London in the mid 1960s, the era of Swinging London, with a display of graphic material including posters, magazines, photographs, album covers and other printed ephemera such as badges, from 1965 to 1972. Graphic work for now rare ephemeral publications, such as Oz and International Times, charts the emergence of 'counter-culture', the 'underground press' and the full flowering of Psychedelia, revealing the mix of idealism and visual experimentation that characterised the period. On show are key works by Peter Blake, and many of the most celebrated posters by artists Nigel Waymouth and Michael English (who worked together as Hapshash and the Coloured Coat), Martin Sharp and others, together with iconic images of music heroes of the day, such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Also included are graphics for 'underground' gatherings, together with colourful posters advertising the legendary music and light events at clubs such as UFO and Middle Earth. Many highlights of the exhibition come from the exceptional collection formed by Barry Miles, a key figure in the 1960s and founder of Indica Bookshop, the unofficial headquarters of the London alternative scene. The display documents some of the most important artistic, cultural and social aspects of this vibrant, though recently maligned, era. Victoria & Albert Museum until 12th November.

A Secret Service: Art, Compulsion, Concealment shows off the work of 15 international artists and groups whose practices centre on the creation of secret worlds, or the exposure of hidden facts and images. It includes key figures of Modern art, established and emerging contemporary artists, and also outsiders and those operating beyond the mainstream. Together, they address numerous aspects of secrecy: magic, alchemy, sexuality, dreams, religion, political conspiracy, assumed identity and the covert workings of the State. A highlight is Kurt Schwitters's final creation 'The Merzbarn', a rare surviving example of his four Merzbuildings - complex, architectural constructions created from refuse and found objects - seen only by a few trusted friends during his lifetime. The Merzbuildings remain confounding riddles, and the exhibition includes rarely seen documentation of the Merzbuildings in conjunction with a specially commissioned new work by Turner Prize nominee Mike Nelson. Among the work by outsiders, there is a presentation of watercolours by the reclusive Chicago janitor Henry Darger, whose illustrations for the fantasy novel In the Realms of the Unreal came to light only at the very end of his life. The full list of other artists comprises: Sophie Calle, Roberto Cuoghi, Gedewon, Susan Hiller, Tehching Hsieh, Katarzyna Jozefowicz, Joachim Koester, Paul Etienne Lincoln, Mark Lombardi, The Speculative Archive, Jeffrey Vallance and Oskar Voll. Hatton Gallery, Newcastle until 11th November.