News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd January 2007


Bound For Glory: America In Colour 1939 - 1943 is an exhibition of rarely seen colour photographs from the Farm Security Administration archive of the Library of Congress in Washington. They were taken across America to bolster support for President Roosevelt's New Deal Programme, which was created to battle the poverty of the Depression in the 1930s. The colour photographs gave a fresh reality to the documenting of this period, made possible by the newly developed Kodachrome colour film, introduced in 1936. In America in the 1930s and 1940s one third of the population were 'ill clothed, ill housed and ill-fed'. Until now the grinding poverty of the time has been epitomised by the iconic black and white images of Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and others - also featured in this exhibition - but these colour images by Marion Post Wolcott, Russell Lee and Jack Delano have an almost shocking immediacy, and bring to life the human cost of the Depression. These vivid scenes and portraits capture the effects on America's rural and small town populations, the nation's subsequent economic recovery and industrial growth, and the country's great mobilisation for the Second World War. Although some 700 of the colour images that had lain forgotten in the Library of congress (after a classic case of bureaucratic misfiling) were 'rediscovered' by historian Sally Stein in 1978, they still remain largely unseen in both America and the outside world. Photographer's Gallery, London until 28th January.

Snowdomes is a celebration of tourism's single greatest contribution to popular culture, featuring an eclectic mix of historical, contemporary and newly commissioned work inspired by these popular miniatures and curiosities. Highlights include: one of the original snowdomes, invented by a manufacturer who encased ceramic models of the brand new Eiffel Tower in palm sized glass globes, magnified with water and fake snow, as souvenirs of the 1889 Paris Expo; an installation of 450 snowdomes from Nancy McMichael's collection of over 5,000, designed by Michael Davies; radically divergent new works commissioned from Anne Brodie, Kamini Chahaun, Richard Clegg, Mat Collishaw, Robert Doisneau, David Emerick, Len Horsey, Sarah Woodfine and Simon Woolham; Julian Germain's photo biography of 11 snowdome enthusiasts from around the world with their collections; a 'living snowdome' - a magical, engaging, visual and sensory experience by fashion designer Gareth Pugh; plus several individual personal collections, and a wide range of snowdome memorabilia. National Glass Centre, Sunderland until 4th March.

William Powell Frith: Painting The Victorian Age is the first exhibition for over 50 years of work by the quintessential yet radical and innovative Victorian artist, who has been hailed as the greatest British painter of the social scene since Hogarth. This display not only brings together Frith's three great and iconic 'modern life' panoramas, 'Life at the Seaside (Ramsgate Sands)', 'Derby Day', and 'The Railway Station (Paddington)', but also comprises more than 100 other paintings, drawings and engravings, including 'Many Happy Returns of the Day', 'Private View at the Royal Academy', 'The Crossing Sweeper' and the series 'Morning', 'Noon' and 'Night', as well as portraits such as 'Annie Gambart', 'After the Bath' and 'Did You Ring, Sir?'. The exhibition charts Frith's career from childhood copies of Dutch prints, through his first success, with colourful and detailed pictures drawn from historical and literary sources that included his great friend Charles Dickens, and his social panoramas (where every picture truly does tell a story), to his late Hogarthian moralising series 'The Race for Wealth', about the contemporary passion for reckless financial speculation, and 'The Road to Ruin', five paintings showing a man's descent into gambling induced poverty. Guildhall Art Gallery, London, until 4th March.


The Past From Above: Through The Lens Of Georg Gerster presents over 100 aerial photographs of archaeological and heritage sites from across the globe taken by the Swiss photographer Georg Gerster. These images range from natural phenomena such as Uluru in Australia, to man made wonders such as the Ziggurat of Ur in Iraq, or the Great Wall of China, providing a 'world tour' of the great monuments of human civilisation. These unique images reveal the scale of mankind's achievements, as well as highlighting the complex relationship between culture and nature - humans have shaped nature but are also shaped by it. To provide insights into these people, the exhibition also features objects displayed alongside some of the photographs, which help to complete the picture of the civilizations and the monuments that defined them. A stone hand-axe, one of the earliest objects made by humans from the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, is on view beside a photograph of the site; a Mummy portrait by an image of the Kharga Oasis; and a seated Buddhist goddess next to a shot of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. The objects personalise these imposing sites, re-emphasising the part humans played in their construction or, in some cases, destruction. The photographs also serve as reminders of the transience of culture and civilizations. In many instances the photographs are a reminder of times that have passed, beliefs that have faded, and empires that have crumbled. From a career spanning over 45 years, Georg Gerster has a collection of over 8,000 such aerial photographs, taken in more than 50 countries. The British Museum until 11th February.

Recent Acquisitions Of British Drawings And Watercolours comprises some striking and important acquisitions in this field, dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The landscapes and figure subjects cover a broad range of media from pencil to watercolour and pastel. Among the highlights are: 'The Prospect', a watercolour by Samuel Palmer, on public display for the first time, alongside 'Yellow Twilight', one of the last works from his Shoreham period; JMW Turner's 'Christ Church, Oxford'; 'Noctes Ambrosianae', a pastel of the interior of the Middlesex Music Hall by Walter Sickert; a watercolour by Richard Parkes Bonington; a design by Sir James Thornhill for the chapel of All Souls College, Oxford; 'An Exhibition at the Old Town Hall in 1854' by George Pyne, depicting several Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces; 'Wittenham Clumps', a drawing by Paul Nash of the landmark near Didcot; a group of watercolours by John Piper; 'Pine-wood, North West Gale' by Michael Ayrton; and a sketchbook of nude studies of Beatrice Warde by Eric Gill. The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford until 18th February.

In The Face Of History: European Photographers In The 20th Century charts European photography from 1910 to the present day, with a range of portraits, landscapes, street scenes and still life. The works, defined as 'subjective documentary', are characterised by an intense closeness between the photographer and their subject. From images of decadent Paris in the 1930s, to flower power in 1960s Amsterdam, photographers who are immersed within the world they portray capture moments in history. Alongside iconic images by Brassai, Robert Doisneau and Wolfgang Tillmans, there are pictures by previously undiscovered photographers from the former Eastern bloc, many never seen in Britain before. The photographs embrace dramatic world events: Andre Kertesz carried his camera to the front as a conscript in the Austro Hungarian army, whilst Henryk Ross was the official photographer of the ghetto at Lodz; social and cultural changes, tracked by photographers operating outside the mainstream: Christer Stromholm, lived amongst a community of transsexuals in 50s Paris, and Anders Petersen's 'Cafe Lehmitz' chronicles the lives of prostitutes and addicts in Hamburg's red light district; and personal histories: Annelies Strba's 3 screen projection 'Shades of Time' traces her children growing up, from snapshots with cats in cluttered bedrooms, to their lives today with children of their own, and Seiichi Furuka's intense portraits of his wife over an 8 year period concluding with her suicide. Barbican Art Gallery until 28th January.

The Museum Of Childhood has reopened following a £4.7m transformation by architects Caruso St John, which restores the 130 year old building to its former Victorian glory. It houses Britain's most important collection of childhood objects comprises dolls and dolls' houses, games, puppets, toys, costume, books, nursery items, art and furniture from 16th century to the present day. Highlights of the project include a new entrance; a Front Room Gallery located in the foyer, dedicated to displaying artwork and installations from the community programme; new displays in the mezzanine galleries based around the themes of Creativity and Moving Toys; a learning centre that doubles the capacity for school groups, a designated space for community art and craft workshops; and a reconfiguration of the north basement to create improved lunchroom and cloakroom facilities. There are two opening exhibitions:

Happy Birthday Miffy celebrates the 50th anniversary of the children's character Miffy, and her creator and illustrator, Dick Bruna, the Netherlands' most successful children's author, with a retrospective of Bruna's original artwork, including silkscreen prints, books, photographs and original illustrations.

Bethnal Green Illuminations is a display of illuminated chandeliers created by groups from local schools, colleges and community projects, which launches the Front Room Gallery. The pieces make reference to Dale Chihuly's glass chandeliers, patterns in nature and chandeliers in the dolls house collection.

The Museum Of Childhood, Bethnal Green London, Happy Birthday Miffy until 18th March - Bethnal Green Illuminations until May.

Fine And Fashionable: Lace From The Blackborne Collection is the first major exhibition of lace in Britain, showcasing one of the finest collections of lace in the world, put together by father and son Anthony and Arthur Blackborne, who were master lace dealers in 19th century London. Conscious of the growing interest in antique lace, for fashion and for its own importance, they began a quest for authentic examples, building up a study collection and a deep knowledge of the subject that earned them international recognition. This exhibition features 200 historical pieces of lace from the Blackborne collection, many never before on public view, together with contemporary lace work designed by Vivienne Westwood, Catherine Bertola, and fashion students at Northumbria University, taking the Blackborne lace as their inspiration. These works are displayed alongside costumes, woven silks, decorative arts, and paintings, illustrating the use of lace in fashion and furnishings. The exhibition focuses on the design and quality of European lace from the 16th to the 20th century, revealing it as the ultimate fashion accessory and more expensive than jewellery. Worn by both sexes, fine hand made lace served to highlight the wealth and status of the wearer. The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle until 26th April.

London: A Life In Maps traces an epic visual journey through maps, topographical views, prints, engravings and ephemera, demonstrating how the obsessions, aspirations and concerns of Londoners drove the expansion and transformation of the metropolis over successive generations. Beginning with a gold coin from 310 depicting the walled Roman settlement of Londinium, it progresses through the ever larger, more detailed depictions of the Tudor and Stuart eras, and the improvements and squalor of the 18th and 19th centuries, to renderings of the city's current Olympic plans. Highlights include: a 15ft high single map of North London shown unified for the first time; the original hand drawn map for the reconstruction of London made within months of the Great Fire of 1666, together with the John Evelyn's diary describing the disaster; unaccredited Renaissance panoramic views of London; German bombing and invasion maps of 1940, showing targets for the bombers, and routes for the invading forces, together with an LCC Bomb Damage Map, showing the devastation in the Docks; a gold penny from Londonwic of about 810; Robert Hooke's original hand drawn plans for the Monument to the Fire; a sheet from the hand coloured 'Master Map of London Poverty' compiled for Charles Booth; drawings by Robert Adam for a grand gateway to London at Hyde Park Corner of 1778; detailed fire insurance plans showing squalor by the Thames in the 1850s, and the interior of Harrods in 1900; the real history of the A-Z from 1652 onwards; and a psychedelic panorama of Carnaby Street in 1970. The British Library until 4th March.


Stubbs: A Celebration marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Britain's greatest sporting painter George Stubbs. This exhibition brings together a group of around 30 of his greatest paintings, showing the quality and range of his output as a painter of animals, of rural life, and portraits. Stubbs's treatment of country sports and rural life were meant to elevate and dignify these subjects. Long admired for his paintings of horses, Stubbs's art reflects an age of innovation and change in British culture. This selection draws attention to his treatment of exotic animals, imported from abroad, his precise approach to portraiture, his technical daring, and his enduring images of the British countryside. In the last years of his life he undertook a series of anatomical drawings that aimed to fuse art and science, but these remained unpublished and misunderstood. Among the highlights of the painting of exotic animals, including cheetas, antelope and moose, are: 'A Nylghau' commissioned by the surgeon and anatomist William Hunter as a means of illustrating his lectures; 'The Duke of Richmond's First Bull Moose', a present from the Governer-General of Canada; 'A Cheetah and a Stag with two Indian Attendants', commemorating and incident when a cheetah was let loose in Windsor Great Park; 'Horse Frightened by a Lion', one of a series of painting on this theme, allegedly based on an event witnessed by Stubbs in North Africa; and 'A Monkey', one of two versions, reflecting Stubbs's continued interest in anatomical studies. Tate Britain until 14th January.

David Smith: A Centennial provides a comprehensive survey of the distinctive work of one of the most innovative and influential American sculptors of the 20th century. Smith was a pioneer 'welder artist', constructing pieces out of iron and steel sheets and wires, rather than employing traditional casting methods. He is best known for his diverse large scale metal pieces, constructed from used machine parts, abandoned tools and scrap metal. In the 1930s and 1940s, influenced by Surrealism and Constructivism, he created hybrid figural sculptures, and in the 1950s, he began to work in stylistic series, ranging from the complicated abstract drawings-in-space of the 'Agricolas' to anthropomorphic and totemic sculptures incorporating machine parts such as the 'Sentinels' and 'Tanktotems'. In the 1960s, his work grew in scale, and became more concerned with abstraction, as in his series of 'Voltris', 'Wagons', and 'Cubis'. This exhibition of almost one hundred pieces comprises the largest selection of his work ever shown in Europe. It encompasses Smith's early experiments with found objects in the 1930s, his exploration of both animate and inanimate forms within interiors from the 1940s, and his examination of landscape in the 1950s. Iconic pieces on display include works never seen before in this country, such as 'Australia 1951' and 'Cubi XXVII', together with 'Saw Head', 'Star Cage', 'The Letter', 'Reliquary House' and 'The Forest'. Tate Modern until 14th January.

Douglas Gordon: Superhumanatural is the first major solo exhibition of Gordon's work in Scotland since the showing of his celebrated work '24-Hour Psycho' (which slowed Alfred Hitchcock's film down so that it takes 24 hours to view) at Tramway in Glasgow in 1993. Gordon works with film, video, photographs, objects and texts, examining issues such as memory and identity, good and evil, life and death. One of his latest works is 'Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait', which follows in real time the movements of the footballer during an entire game. This exhibition showcases early pieces, explores the Scottish aspect of Gordon's art and also premieres new works. The Royal Scottish Academy is featuring 'Pretty Much Every Film and Video Work from About 1992 Until Now', shown on a bank of 50 video monitors in the sculpture court; works from four photographic series '100 Blind Stars', 'Self-Portraits of You + Me', 'Staying Home and Going Out' and 'What Am I Doing Wrong'; and some of his most celebrated installations, 'Play Dead: Real Time', in which an elephant pretends to be shot, 'Feature Film', '24-Hour Psycho' and 'Through A Looking Glass', which combines two versions of the mirror scene from Taxi Driver out of sync, so they appear to talk to each other. The Royal Botanic Garden is showing a complete collection of his wall texts in Inverleith House; the video installation 'Between Darkness and Light (After William Blake)', combining a child who thinks she has seen the Virgin Mary, The Song Of Bernadette and The Exorcist, in the Caledonian Hall; and 'Plato's Cave', one of three new works, in the Wash House. Royal Scottish Academy and Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh until 14th January.