News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd November 2005


Rubens: A Master In The Making tells the story of Peter Paul Rubens's ascension from working as a pupil of a minor Antwerp artist, to become the dominant international painter of his time. It is the most thorough explanation of what was called 'the fury of the brush' ever attempted. The story begins in Antwerp, with works such as 'The Battle of the Amazons' and 'The Battle of Nude Men', where Rubens is sketching the movement and placement of bodies to create the energy and motion that was to become the signature of all his paintings. On his 8 year study trip to Italy, he was exposed to the Renaissance greats Michelangelo and Raphael, and the revolutionary style of Caravaggio, whose influence is revealed in paintings such as 'The Fall of Phaeton', 'St George' and 'Hero and Leander'. Three versions of 'The Judgement of Paris', using different mediums: oil on oak, oil on copper and oil on panel, show Rubens's evolution in style, from undefined bodies to more defined physiques. A group of Genoese portraits from 1606 offer the opportunity to focus on works that are by Rubens's hand alone, undiluted by any workshop assistance. The culmination of the show is a group of Rubens's best known heroic images, created from an amalgam of sources on his return to Antwerp. These include 'The Descent from the Cross', 'The Entombment' 'Samson and Delilah', 'The Massacre of the Innocents', 'Ecce Homo' and 'Roman Charity' - works that were last seen together in Rubens's studio. National Gallery until 15th January.

Fashion And Fancy Dress: The Messel Family Dress Collection 1865-2005 chronicles and interprets the clothes worn by six generations of women from one remarkable family. The exhibition features 55 outfits, drawn from a unique collection of garments, never before exhibited, exploring how treasured items of clothing, collected and preserved over time, represent family memory and heritage. A singular artistic and creative eye runs through the six generations, encompassing English, Irish, French and Chinese style, a love of fancy dress, and a specific choice of fashion designers. From the 1870s onwards the women of this extended family - Mary Anne, Marion, Maud, Anne, Susan, Alison and today Anna - fulfilled their social obligations to dress correctly, while demonstrating a strong individual style and a gentle aesthetic eccentricity. As well as garments worn on Society occasions - wedding, christening, evening, sporting, Coronation and mourning - the exhibition also features the Messel embroidery workshops, the development of the Nymans embroidery workshop. It also reflects the family's love of jewellery and fancy dress, used in re-enactments of their 18th century ancestors, and at other fancy dress balls from the 1910s to the 1930s. Throughout the exhibition, items of dress and accessories are set in their social context through period photographs, film footage and rarely seen portraits. Brighton Museum and Art Gallery until 5th March.

Roger Fenton: Photographs 1852-60 showcases the work of one of the most important 19th century photographers, with over 90 images surveying all aspects of his groundbreaking career. Fenton set out to be a painter, studying in London and Paris, but in 1851, he took to the newly invented process of photography. While Fenton's photographic career lasted little more than a decade, his work features some of the greatest accomplishments in the history of the medium, a fact reflected by the scope of his influence. In 1852 he made what are believed to be the first photographs of Russia and the Kremlin; in 1853 the British Museum invited him to document some of their collections; and he helped to found the Photographic Society (which later became the Royal Photographic Society). Fenton's landscape and architectural views came to the attention of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, with whose help he travelled to Balaclava to document the Crimean War. On his return, Fenton travelled throughout England, Scotland, and Wales, making ambitious studies of the countryside, cathedrals and country houses. While several of Fenton's photographs on display are distinguished by their evocative depictions of light, atmosphere, and place, others demonstrate his appreciation of the solidity, permanence, and integrity of English architecture. Tate Britain until 2nd January.


Self Portrait: Renaissance To Contemporary is the first large scale exhibition to bring artists' own images together across periods and places within the tradition of western painting, from 1433 to the present day. It explores the diversity of the image with which the artist is represented through painted self portraits by 56 of the world's greatest artists, from Jan van Eyck to Chuck Close. Works by artists renowned for their self portraits, such as Rembrandt, van Gogh, Kahlo and Bacon, are included alongside less well known artists, such as Pieter van Laer, Johannes Gumpp and Hans Thoma. The international range of artists represented includes Carracci, Degas, Velazquez, Hogarth, Kauffmann, Corinth, Reynolds, Zoffany, Courbet, Nolan, Warhol, Hopper, and Freud. Focusing on the self portrait through oils, the exhibition traces continuity and change in the genre, and the particular importance of the medium of oil paint to its development. It is especially concerned with the ways in which portrait likenesses can express the creativity and inventiveness of the artist. By showing the different ways in which artists have chosen to paint their own image, the exhibition opens up questions of consciousness, process and identity. The exhibition includes seven early works from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, where the collection of self-portraits begun by the Medici - now displayed in the 'Vasari corridor'- is the most important and famous group of self portraits in the world. National Portrait Gallery until 29th January.

Immortal Pharoah: The Tomb Of Thutmose III is an exact replica of the burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings of one of ancient Egypt's greatest pharaohs. Ruling during the Eighteenth Dynasty, from 1479 to 1426 BC, Thutmose III belongs to the country's most glorious era. The walls of the tomb contain a complete depiction of the Amduat (Book of the Dead) the oldest Egyptian book of the netherworld, which chronicles the pharaoh's journey through the afterlife. According to ancient beliefs, in order to gain eternal life everyone who dies has to successfully complete a 12 hour journey mirroring the journey of the sun god from dusk till dawn. Mummification and the leaving of treasures were ways of helping to protect the dead through this journey, to ensure that they secured eternal life and not eternal damnation. The Amduat was believed to contain the secret to eternal life, holding the crucial knowledge that was needed to help people pass a series of tests to see if they were worthy of immortality - helping them to use their wits and knowledge, including magic, to beat demons and serpents. Thutmose's tomb is the oldest discovered burial site featuring the entire book. It comprises 12 separate panels - one for every hour of the journey - filled with elegant line drawings in black and red showing the pharaoh moving through the underworld. An array of original exhibits and artefacts illustrates the themes of the Amduat, and the rituals surrounding burial, mummification and the belief in resurrection. City Art Centre, Edinburgh, until 8th January.

Robert Brownjohn celebrates the work of the graphic designer who created many of the most memorable images of the 1960s, from the titles for the James Bond films From Russia With Love and Goldfinger, through graphics for the Obsession exhibition at the Robert Fraser Gallery, to the Rolling Stones album Let It Bleed. Famed for his flamboyant lifestyle as well as his talent, Brownjohn studied under modernist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and made his name as an innovative typographer and image maker with award winning advertising campaigns in late 1950s New York. He moved to London in 1960, working first in advertising and then in films and commercials, where he had the iconic idea of projecting text onto the faces and bodies of dancers and models. Catching the experimental spirit of the time, Brownjohn's audacious choice of images brought the emerging graphic design industry and modernist visual theory into mainstream culture. Shocking though his work could be, it was always refined by formal rigour and ingenious combinations of typography, illustration and found materials. Sadly, Brownjohn's 'live fast die young' philosophy resulted in only a brief, though spectacular, career. With material from his personal archive, this exhibition explores his work and enduring legacy. Design Museum until 26th February.

The Science Of Aliens explores the possibility of life on other worlds, derived from the work of leading scientists, who used the latest discoveries and scientific principles to imagine alien worlds and creatures. The exhibition is divided into four zones: Alien Fiction reflects alien life as represented in films‚ television and literature, revealing how they are modern expressions of deeper themes that have fascinated generations through fairytales and myths, with exhibits of science fiction creatures including the Queen from the film Aliens, Vogons and the Clangers. Alien Science begins with an exploration of the evolution of life on Earth, including frightening specimens from Earth's deepest oceans, and how they help scientists understand the possibilities for alien life forms, before embarking on a journey around our solar system and into deep space in search of aliens. Alien Worlds imagines the kind of life that could evolve on two fictional‚ but scientifically credible worlds, where giant interactive landscapes enable visitors to interact with the creatures‚ learn more about them, and influence their behaviour‚ making them hide‚ hunt and move around their planets‚ before triggering world altering global events - the first time these cutting edge interactives have been seen in the UK. Alien Communications looks at the search for alien intelligence‚ showing how scientists are listening for signals from outer space, and how they have attempted to communicate with alien civilisations. The Science Museum until 26th February.

National Waterfront Museum is a new Ł30.8m museum designed by architects Wilkinson Eyre, which tells the story of the deep impact that the industrial revolution had on the people of Wales. It is a mix of old and new, incorporating a Grade II listed waterfront warehouse, and a glazed, central walkway, joining it to a new glass and slate building, comprised of four interlinked pavilions increasing in size from one end to the other. There are 15 themed galleries celebrating Wales's story of industry and innovation from the 18th century into the future. Over one hundred audio visual exhibits and 36 interactive displays, using the latest technology, complement some of the oldest surviving technological artefacts in Wales. Among the heavyweight exhibits from its industrial heritage are a 28-tonne rolling steel mill from the Llanwern works, one of very few surviving coal wagons, a brick press, a replica of the Pen-y-darren steam locomotive, a Cardiff built monoplane, and outdoors alongside the quay, the lightship Helwick.

Nelson In Wales is a temporary exhibition examining Nelson's Welsh connections - the copper plates that sheathed the hulls of the British fleet, making them faster than their opponents, were cast in Swansea, while the fleet's guns and cannonballs were cast at Cyfarthfa, then the largest ironworks in the world. It includes a large and detailed model of the flagship Victory, and Nelson memorabilia, which as well as telling the story of his life, considers Nelson's image as the hero of early 19th century Britain. National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, continuing.

Diane Arbus: Revelations is the largest retrospective ever assembled of work by the legendary New York photographer, whose work captured 1950s and 1960s America, and transformed the art of photography. The exhibition consists of nearly 200 of Arbus's most significant photographs, including many images that have never been exhibited publicly before. Among the iconic pictures are 'A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx', 'Identical twins, Roselle, N.J.', 'Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park' and 'A young man in curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C.'. The exhibition also reveals the artist's methodology and intellectual influences, through a presentation of contact sheets, cameras, letters, notebooks, and other writings, as well as books and ephemera from Arbus's personal library. She was born in New York City and was a photographer primarily of people she discovered in the metropolis and its environs. In her photographs, the self-conscious encounter between photographer and subject becomes a central drama of the picture. Her "contemporary anthropology" - portraits of couples, children, carnival performers, nudists, middle class families, transvestites, people on the street, zealots, eccentrics, and celebrities - stands as an allegory of post war America and an exploration of the relationship between appearance and identity, illusion and belief, theatre and reality. Alternatively, she created a 20th century version of a Victorian Freak Show. Victoria & Albert Museum until 15th January.


70 Years Of Penguin Design marks the 70th anniversary of Penguin Books with a display of some 500 of its iconic book covers. Drawing on material from the Penguin archives that has never been exhibited before, the display shows how the company has responded to - and influenced - changing trends in British culture. Penguin was launched with the pioneering concept of publishing cheap paperback editions of distinguished books, for just sixpence per title. Its distinctive approach to cover design and typography was equally advanced, and has become an integral part of publishing and graphic design history, beginning with the simple bands of colour and the classic Gill Sans typeface. The display is divided into three themes. 'A Living Book' displays the changing covers of The Great Gatsby, showing how this popular classic has taken on various guises from 1950 to the present day. 'Covers Living With British Culture' are represented by Wartime Specials and designs from the swinging sixties, such as The Medium Is The Massage, where a printer's error was incorporated into the title, and the menacing design of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. 'Cover Design Now', goes through the design process of covers today, from paper to computer screen and back to paper again, such as the innovative Great Ideas series, shortlisted for the Designer of the Year Award. The display is rich in original art work, and hand drawn roughs, corrected proofs and in house notes bring the finished designs to life. Victoria & Albert Museum until 13th November.

Nelson & Napoleon is the first exhibition to explore together the lives of the two national leaders and adversaries, Horatio Nelson and Napoleon Bonaparte. It examines how the men earned their reputations, their personal lives and the political and military conditions that brought them to the fore. The exhibition shows the impact of the French Revolution and Napoleon on Britain, concentrating on Napoleon's rise to power and his early career, before looking in depth at the Battle of Trafalgar, one of the most significant sea battles in history. It also shatters some of the myths about both the battle and the two leaders. Presented in both English and French, the exhibition illustrates the impact on world history of the actions, decisions and behaviour of these charismatic and controversial leaders. It includes recent discoveries, rare and unseen material, letters, iconic paintings, models, weapons, maps, medals and personal items, amounting to some 300 objects in all. Among the highlights are: the uniform in which Nelson was killed, Nelson's pigtail, cut off at his request to be sent to Emma Hamilton, Nelson's hand drawn battle plan and innovative tactics for the Battle of Trafalgar, the sword used to proclaim Napoleon Emperor, one of the few surviving letters from Emma Hamilton to Nelson, the surgery kit used to remove the bullet from Nelson's body on board HMS Victory, Napoleon's English lesson notes written at St Helena, the Ingres painting of Napoleon as First Consul, and the uniform worn by Napoleon at the Battle of Marengo. National Maritime Museum until 13th November.

The Cassell Silver is a display of eleven masterpieces of English silver from the 15th to 18th centuries, from the collection formed by Sir Ernest Cassel, including unique pieces of silver associated with some of England's most prominent families. Cassel was a German immigrant, who arrived in England in 1869 with, it is said, a bag of clothes and a violin. Within fifteen years, he had become one of the most successful financiers in Europe, married an Englishwoman, converted from Judaism to Catholicism, and become a friend and financial adviser to the Prince of Wales. Cassel built up a celebrated art collection, an important part of which was the early English silver. The highlights of the display are the Proctor ewer and basin, and the Bell Salt. The ewer and basin, hallmarked London 1592-3, are exceptional examples of Tudor plate with floral decoration within strapwork. The enamelled roundel on the basin depicts the arms of Richard Proctor, Master of the Merchant Taylors' Company, for whom they were made. Ewers and basins, used for washing hands at the table before forks were introduced, were the most prestigious type of table plate in Renaissance Europe, and formed the centrepiece of ornamental buffet displays. The salt, hallmarked London 1597-8, is shaped in the form of a bell, and has pale gilding and strapwork decoration. Salt was of high symbolic importance on medieval and Renaissance tables as the seating of people at the table in relation to the salt represented their social status. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford until 6th November.