Private View held by Richard Andrews
Art Deco 1910-1939 is the first assessment in this country of the first truly global art movement, which was launched at the Paris International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in 1925, as the way of the future, combining streamlining and extravagance. It started in the gallery with paintings and sculpture, moved into the home with individually created jewellery, objets d'art, dresses and furniture for the rich, and then the style swept the world in mass-produced items, with everything from household chinaware and textiles, through cars and ocean liners, to architecture such as the Chrysler building and the Rockefeller Center. It was even reflected in entertainment, both through the designs of the extravagant Hollywood musical spectaculars, and the buildings in which they were shown, culminating in Radio City Music Hall in New York. This exhibition endeavours to encompass the breadth of this massive canvass. It is crammed with wonders including the Maharajah of Indore's silver canopy bed, an Auburn Speedster car, a Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann dressing table, Walter Teague's Bluebird radio, and even the foyer of the Strand Palace Hotel. Areas recreate the Paris Exhibition of 1925 and the New York World's Fair of 1939 that mark the movement's beginning and end. A rich and glamorous treat. Victoria & Albert Museum until 20th July.
Garry Fabian Miller: Burning, Golden Storms & Thoughts Of A Night Sea features three recent series of images by this unique artist, who uses photographic techniques, but cuts out the middle men: the camera and the film. Miller goes straight to the photosensitive paper and literally paints on it with light. He returns to the first principles and techniques of 19th century pre-photography, working in the dark, passing light through objects such as leaves and flowers or filters of oil or coloured water directly on to the paper. Unable to see what is happening while he is doing it, each work is guided only by the knowledge and experience of what he has made before. The mesmerising results of Miller's conjuring - radiant stripes and haloes of abstract but highly evocative images - suggest a glowing world of horizons, sunsets and deserts. Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, 0131 556 4441 until 26th April.
Cristina Iglesias: New Corners Of The World is the first major presentation in Britain of the work of the Spanish artist, bringing together 40 sculptural and architectural pieces installed in a sequence of spaces. There are various 'flying ceiling' pieces, like the roof of a cave or a fossilised seabed, surrounded by screens of enormous copper sheets, containing silk-screened images of a mysterious metropolis, formed by creating ramshackle maquettes from cardboard boxes, and enlarging them to a human scale. Then there are Vegetation Rooms, larger-than-life organic mesh screens, like the ornamentation of Moorish architecture, joined together to form intimate chambers and environments, which reduce the viewer in scale like an episode from Alice In Wonderland. While Passages comprise overlapping canopies that recall sunscreens in Arab street markets. Inspired by the trompe l'oeil effects of Baroque architecture, Iglesias plays tricks with perspective, creating intricate bas-reliefs so that entire concrete walls peel apart to reveal 18th century tapestries, and elegant canopies of veined alabaster like the domes of ancient Persian mosques or Byzantine churches. An extraordinary
experience. Whitechapel Art Gallery until18th May.
John Soane And The Wooden Bridges of Switzerland: Architecture And The Culture Of Technology From Palladio To The Grubenmanns springs from a journey through Europe made by Soane in 1778 while he was a student of architecture. In Switzerland he saw a number of remarkable wooden bridges with which he became fascinated, and later included in his Royal Academy lectures as exemplars of inventive construction. The Swiss wooden bridges, built in the 1760s and 70s by architects such as the Grubenmann brothers were widely acknowledged as masterpieces of engineering. They achieved impossible spans through a combination of lightness and strength, and were often hugely complex in design. This exhibition looks at why these bridges exerted such a strong hold on Soane's imagination, and traces their influence on his career as an architect and teacher of architecture. It also takes a detailed look at the development of wooden bridge construction since antiquity. There is material from Soane's own collection, including several of his lecture drawings illustrating the Swiss bridges and their antecedents, together with architectural books and other drawings on loan from museums in Italy. The showstoppers however, are three wooden models attributed to the Swiss architect Hans Ulrich Grubenmann dating from the mid 18th century. Sir John Soane's Museum until 19th April.
Will Alsop And Bruce McLean: Two Chairs is the first exhibition to present the results of a unique ongoing collaboration between architect Will Alsop and artist Bruce McLean. Alsop is an architect with a painterly eye, who follows no single theoretical school, and believes that to build is to exercise the heart rather than the intellect. McLean is a sculptor who has moved into performance art, painting, prints, ceramics and furniture design. For over twenty years they have been enjoying annual creative encounters in Spain, aiming to discover forms and relations that feed their individual disciplines. These meetings in Malagarba on the island of Minorca have produced a series of dramatic large-scale highly colourful 3D abstract paintings, and architectural sized sculptural works. McLean's boldness of spirit and risk, combined with Alsop's organic and playful architectural resolutions, make an exhibition that is fluid, experimental and spontaneous. The Two Chairs of the title refers not only to the inclusion of two identical wooden chairs in photographs of their joint works, which they use to establish scale, but also to the fact that both these eminent anti-establishment figures hold professorial chairs in major academic institutions. Cube Manchester 0161 237 5525 until 8th May.
Masterpieces From Dresden: Mantegna And Durer To Rubens And Canaletto owes its origin to last summer's European floods. In August the waters of the River Elbe rushed into the vaults of the Zwinger Palace, home of the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, one of Europe's greatest collections of Old Master paintings. In a dramatic rescue mission 4,000 artworks were carried to safety from the basement stores by museum staff, volunteers and the armed forces. The museum has reopened, but while remedial work on the basement continues, its treasures are on loan for us to see, with over fifty masterpieces, from Italian Renaissance paintings to Mantegna and Titian, to stunning works by Durer, Van Dyck, Velazquez, Poussin, Watteau and Canaletto. Ranging in subject matter from historical, mythological and biblical themes, to dramatic portraits, genre scenes, and spectacular landscapes, the exhibition provides a unique opportunity to view rarely seen works. It includes a group of Bellotto's spectacular views of Dresden, which reveal the magnificent city in all its 18th century glory. Known as the Florence of the Elbe, Dresden was a royal capital and a city of great architectural distinction. There is an accompanying selection of dramatic black and white photographs by the German photographer Barbara Klemm, documenting the salvage operation and the flood damage at the Zwinger Palace. Royal Academy of Arts until 8th June.
Puppet Worlds puts one of the oldest theatrical traditions into a global context, and also illustrates that its audience is by no means restricted to children. Every kind of puppet is here, from British end of the pier Punch and Judy, whose ancestry is much more complex than you would imagine - Punch first proclaimed "the way to do it" in Naples in the 17th century - via 4ft tall characters from the Sri Lankan puppet folk opera, and Malaysian shadow puppets, to satirical glove puppets from Uzbekistan which are employed to discuss social issues. Traditional Chinese and Indian puppets sit alongside present day British favourites such as the original Andy Pandy and Flower Pot Men. Among the highlights are rod puppets from Indonesia, where shows are performed at celebrations of births, weddings, harvest and other community occasions, which represent characters from the Mahabharata, including Yamadipati, the God of Death. On display for the first time are a set of water puppets, which belong to a performance art unique to Vietnam. They are used to depict life in the countryside, such as rice planting, fishing and wrestling, and also to tell more exotic stories, in which supernatural creatures like the unicorn, dragon and phoenix appear. To operate them, the puppeteers stand waist deep in water behind a screen, manipulating the puppets by the use of underwater rods and strings. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill London SE23 until 2nd November.
COBRA: Copenhagen Brussels Amsterdam showcases the work of a group of artists and writers who took their name from the three cities where many of the participants lived - Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. Working between 1948 and 1951, artists associated with COBRA proclaimed a radical new art based on experimentation and collaboration. Influenced by the traditions of myth and tribal art, and the instinctive and untutored art of children and the mentally ill, these artists were motivated by a belief in the role of art as a social and political force, and sought spontaneous, experimental and anti-elitist forms of expression. In the newly won post war freedom, anything classical, considered or disciplined as out. This exhibition is the first major show of the movement in the Britain, and presents works by 20 artists, with paintings and drawings by key figures including Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Constant, Cornelle, Asger Jorn and Carl-Henning Pederson. They are exuberant, colourful, vigorous and brash - epitomising what the movement set out to achieve. In addition to the paintings, there are also films, publications and manifestos by other members of the group. Baltic, Gateshead until 21st April.
British Blondes celebrates the perception that from Greek goddess Aphrodite to pop goddess Madonna, blondes have always had more fun, by bringing together photographs of some the best known British blondes from the 1930s to the present day. Blonde hair has come to signify beauty, power and status, and the display looks at blonde bombshells from the worlds of politics, fashion, music, film and media. Highlights include Margaret Thatcher by Norman Parkinson, Twiggy by Allan Ballard, Diana Dors by Cornel Lucas and Joely Richardson by Alistair Morrisson, plus Diana, Princess of Wales, Patsy Kensit and Barbara Windsor. The sublime to the 'gor blimey indeed. National Portrait Gallery until 6th July.
Blondes is a complementary selection of sixty images from the world's largest image archive, demonstrating the mystique and sexual allure of blondes around the world, achieved through a combination of childish innocence and knowing seductiveness. Representatives here include Brigitte Bardot, Jerry Hall, Jean Harlow, Grace Kelly, Carole Lombard, Jane Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner and of course, Madonna. The exhibition also features a selection of blonde men, including Michael Caine, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Fortunately there is no distinction made between natural and (strongly featured in this exhibition) acquired blondness. Hulton Getty Images Gallery, London until 26th April.
Kazari: Decoration And Display In Japan 15th - 19th Centuries is an exploration of the Japanese art and experience of arranging and displaying decorative objects. Kazari refers not only to the object, but also to its use in specific settings and contexts, and requires the active participation of imagination or memory. Stimulating the senses through the acts of viewing, using, or adorning a work of art, it manifests the dynamism inherent in Japanese aesthetics, and suggests the process that transforms the everyday into something extraordinary. The exhibition consists of over 200 rich, remarkable, and often unexpected objects in all media - painting, ceramics, lacquer, textiles (including Kabuki theatre costumes), glass and metalwork. Exhibits are organised in six chronological and thematic sections, presenting examples of decorative and fine art objects that correspond to particular periods of high cultural achievements. These range from the shogun's court of the Muromachi (1392-1573), through prosperous merchants of Momoyama (1573-1615), to the pleasure districts of burgeoning Edo (1615-1868) periods. The exhibition shows how the arts of decoration and display were integral to Japanese culture, and contradicts the general belief in the West that it is entirely minimalist. British Museum until 13th April.
Giorgio de Chirico And The Myth Of Ariadne charts a man's obsession with a subject, which he first painted in 1912, and was still pursuing over 100 paintings later in 1970. According to legend, Ariadne was abandoned by her lover Theseus on the desert island of Naxos, after he had slain the Minotaur and escaped from the labyrinth with the aid of her thread. Chirico's melancholic, enigmatic paintings have dream-like imagery of a reclining statue of Ariadne, in an empty, sun-drenched piazza, filled with mysterious shadows and stopped clocks, repeated with subtle variations in shadow, colour and composition. These iconic works, which inspired and influenced the Surrealist paintings of Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and, Rene Magritte, are complemented by a selection of later paintings on the theme of Ariadne, whose serial approach foreshadows the work of Andy Warhol, a close friend of de Chirico in the 1970s.This exhibition brings together key works of the Ariadne series from private and public collections around the world and includes The Soothsayer's Recompense, along with related drawings and sculptures. Estorick Collection, London until 13th April.
Aztecs is the most comprehensive survey of Aztec culture ever mounted, with some 350 works, which reveal the splendours, variety and sophistication of this mysterious civilisation. It is mainly devoted to the art of the Aztec Empire, which dates from 1325, when the Aztecs settled at Tenochtitlan (present day Mexico City) to its demise in 1521, following the arrival of the Spanish in 1519. The exhibition explores the key themes of Aztec culture, including the importance of the cosmos, the role of the different gods, the issue of kingship, the culture of war and human sacrifice as part of the cycle of life and death, and the natural world. The largest display is centred on the Templo Mayor or the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan, the symbolic and physical centre of the Aztec world, with many of the ritual objects found on the site, including the life size terracotta figures of the eagle warrior and of the Lord of Death, Mictlantecuhtli, which are on show for the first time outside Mexico. The Aztecs fashioned objects from a wide variety of materials, and creating highly detailed depictions of gods, people, and the natural world. In addition to monumental sculptures in stone and wood, featherwork objects and ceramics, there are works of art made of turquoise mosaics, gold and other precious materials. The exhibition also reunites some of the most important codices or pictorial manuscripts, which the Aztecs used to record their history and communicate information, in the largest group of these documents ever to be displayed. Further information can be found on a special section of the Royal Academy web site via the link opposite. Royal Academy of Arts until 11th April.