News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd March 2004

Commencing

Roy Lichtenstein is the first major retrospective of the American father of Pop Art in the UK for 35 years. Lichtenstein shot to international fame with his paintings based on cartoon characters - Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Popeye - but it was his blown up comic strip scenes of wartime action and romantic melodrama, such as 'Whaam!', 'Ohhh… Alright…' and 'In The Car', and his paintings of everyday objects culled from advertising, including 'Coffee Cup', 'Golf Ball' and 'Radio' that established the Pop Art movement. These paintings surprised and shocked the public in the early 1960s twice over. Firstly, for their precise, mechanical style: big, brash and immediate, in bold primary colours (often created by dots as in the original comic strips) within thick black outlines. Secondly, for their provocative use of subjects, taken from the worlds of commerce and popular culture. From the late 1960s onwards Lichtenstein extended the range of his imagery, applying the same techniques to still lifes, figure studies, landscapes and interiors. He examined colour, pattern and form, spatial illusions and the styles and iconic images of modern life, with increasing complexity and an ironic humour. This exhibition presents over 80 paintings and drawings, spanning nearly 40 years, providing an opportunity to see not only his most famous works "in the flesh" but also some relatively little known pieces. Viewed in retrospect his work reveals a simplicity, economy and subtlety that far outstrips the other pillar of the Pop Art movement, Andy Warhol. Hayward Gallery until 16th May.

Dinomites takes visitors back 150 million years to a prehistoric world, and brings them face to face with baby and juvenile dinosaurs. With lifelike models, complete with sound effects and a jungle setting, the display examines their cycle of life, from birth to death. From the fearsome predator, the Tyrannosaurus rex, to the almost mild mannered leaf eating Stegosaurus, the exhibition shows the power and majesty of these formidable creatures. Alongside the models, interactive displays reveal a wealth of dinosaur information, including which of the dinosaurs roamed over England, how the Styrachosaurus used their horns, and what made a typical meal for the Velociraptor. The exhibition is complemented by rare fossils, depicting dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, which come from the museum's permanent collection. A wide range of family events and activities accompany the show during the Easter and summer holidays. Further information can be found on the Horniman Museum web site via the link from the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet. Horniman Museum until 31st October.

Due South: Art And The Antarctic By John Kelly is a record of a three month journey to the bottom of the globe made last year with the scientists of the British Antarctic Survey. Working with a variety of media, Kelly recreates the vast and isolated environment of the polar landscape, showing what it is like to survive - as artist, scientist or animal - at the edge of the world. The exhibition encompasses paintings, sketches, photographs, sculpture, sound samples and found objects, such as bones and feathers. It includes a visual diary of Kelly's experiences during his voyage from the Falkland Islands across the notoriously stormy seas to the South Orkneys, and his stay at Signy Island station, including his involvement with the scientific work conducted there. The island offers a wide variety of landscapes and wildlife, ranging from the penguin colonies of the Gourlay Peninsula, through the elephant seals of the flats, to Signy's ice cap. A recreated interior of a polar hut, complete with shelves of scientific equipment, bottles, oilcans, animal bones and twine is a reminder of the early days of polar exploration, when scientists in the field made do with the basics. Working as an artist in the world's last great wilderness presented certain problems, including how to overcome the high winds and low temperatures. Sketching equipment was adapted to these extreme conditions and time spent working on the ice had to be short and intense. Natural History Museum until 1st August.

Continuing

Brilliant is an exhibition of contemporary lighting from the strictly functional to the wildly ostentatious. It shows the range of new lighting forms, fabrics and technologies, from domestic lamps to futuristic lighted textiles. The first space has a series of interlinked rooms in which designers Ron Arad, Ingo Maurer, Sharon Marston, Tord Boontje, Georg Baldele, Francesco Draisci, Kazuhiro Yamanaka, Paul Cocksedge and Arik Levy explore the potential of light. Some work with the basic symbol of electric light - the light bulb - while others look to new technologies such as fibre optics and LEDs. Using shadow play and projection, and by exploiting the possibilities of materials, technologies and visual effects, the designers reveal how light is a powerful shaper of space. Bruce Munro even takes it outdoors offering a 'Field Of Light' in the garden. The second part of the exhibition features hundreds of domestic lights and 'light-objects' by designers who have produced some of the most innovative products of recent years, including Tom Dixon, Marcel Wanders, Gitta Gschwendtner and Karim Rashid. These embrace all manner of materials, forms and manufacture - sculptural and functional, ambient and directional, hi-tech and handmade. Victoria & Albert Museum until 25th April.

Disguise is a collection of work by artists who have made it their business to play at being someone else, to the point in some cases, that the assumed persona has taken them over: their art is self creation rather than self expression.The show examines style, fashion and identity, to explore how we create and change our image, through photography, video and sculpture. All the artists adopt extreme forms of disguise to reflect on how we use it in our daily lives in our dress, make-up or behaviour. Highlights include: Fergus Greer's images of 80s performance artist Leigh Bowery in a series of extraordinary costumes which manipulate his silhouette; Cindy Sherman's photographs of herself as a series of women you might spot in an American supermarket; Nikki S Lee's radical transformations of her image and lifestyle to be accepted into a community of senior citizens or lesbians; Marcus Coates's videos that explore the boundaries between humans and animals; Yasumasa Morimura's images of himself digitally infiltrated into Pre-Raphelite paintings; and Laura Ford's childlike characters in ineffectual disguises. Manchester Art Gallery until 6th June.

Blasting The Future! Vorticism In Britain 1910 - 1920 examines this important British artistic movement, and its turbulent relationship with Futurism. Vorticism is one of the most important and distinctive avant-garde art movements of the early twentieth century, and was Britain's most significant contribution to the development of Modernism. Established by the painter and writer Wyndham Lewis, Vorticism aimed to liberate British culture from the legacy of the Victorian era, promoting a dynamic art that would embrace and reflect the industrial age, through an imagery of hard-edged, geometric and often completely abstract forms. The Vorticist manifesto appeared in the first issue of the movement's official publication Blast. Its signatories included William Roberts, Lawrence Atkinson, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Helen Saunders, Edward Wadsworth and the American poet Ezra Pound, who gave the movement its name. It was greatly indebted to the Italian Futurist movement, which was very active in London during the early years of the 20th century, but the British artists consistently rejected such comparisons, and fiercely defended their independence. All of the major Vorticist artists are represented in this display of 45 works, and in addition, figures such as Jacob Epstein and David Bomberg - who were sympathetic to the aims of the movement but never belonged to it - as well as Britain's only true Futurist, C.R.W. Nevinson. Estorick Collection, London until 18th April.

Pre-Raphaelite Vision: Truth To Nature is the first exhibition to focus solely on Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the natural world. The group took their canvases out of doors, and working directly from nature led to new ways of seeing and painting, as revolutionary as the achievements of their contemporaries, the Impressionists. The exhibition brings together around 150 works, including William Holman Hunt's 'Our English Coasts (Strayed Sheep)', John William Inchbold's 'Anstey's Cove, Devon' and John Everett Millais's 'Ophelia'. It explores the Pre-Raphaelite's fascination with detail, together with parallel developments in photography; their concern for the ordinary and mundane depicted in suburban environments, epitomised by Ford Madox Brown's 'An English Autumn Afternoon'; a fascination with the Orient and places with biblical history, and a desire to make accurate painted records of locations and buildings felt to be at risk, such as Thomas Seddon's 'The Great Sphinx' and William Holman Hunt's 'The Scapegoat'; an interest in geology with work such as John Brett's 'The Glacier of Rosenlaui'; landscape as a setting for human activities in a pre-industrial rural Britain with Charles Napier Hemy's 'Among the Shingle at Clovelly' and William Dyce's 'Pegwell Bay'; and the movement towards a more poetic kind of landscape in J M Whistler's 'Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea' and John Brett's 'The British Channel seen from Dorsetshire Cliffs'. Tate Britain until 3rd May.

Pain: Passion‚ Compassion‚ Sensibility explores the changing cultural place of pain, and the role of science in shaping our beliefs‚ with visual and verbal representations‚ medical attempts to deal with pain‚ examinations of modern and contemporary theories about the nature of pain, and a look into our reactions to the pain of others. Using a mixture of historical and contemporary exhibits, the meanings and experiences of pain are explored, including amputation, childbirth, circumcision, torture, masochism and sadism. Over 170 film clips, objects and artworks - many rare and unseen from the original collections of Sir Henry Wellcome - include: the tooth of an Egyptian ghoul said to cure neck pain; a Victorian head perforator; Lord Lister's apparatus for application per rectum; 18th century German dental forceps; a carved wooden decapitated head; torture equipment, including a Chinese torture seat and a 16th century thumb screw; a 17th century German execution mask; the blood stained costume of the matador Manuel Granero, worn on the day of his death; etchings from Goya's Disasters of War series; and a human size devotional sculpture of Christ used in Easter processions in Spain. The Science Museum until 20th June.

Crystal Palace At Sydenham celebrates the 150th anniversary of the completion of Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace at Sydenham, which was almost twice the size of the original structure in Hyde Park built to house the Great Exhibition. While the 1851 exhibition is well known, range of the displays and activities at Sydenham, such as the Handel Festivals and fireworks, the exploits of the acrobat Blondin, the Festival of Empire of 1911, and the first days of the Imperial War Museum are mostly unfamiliar. The interior nave was originally a Winter Garden with botanical exhibits and statuary, and there were displays of architecture, industry, ethnography and natural history. The surrounding park was laid out in terraces, with elaborate formal gardens, informal English landscape gardening, the famous life size models of dinosaurs and other extinct animals, and waterworks - fountains, water temples and cascades - which were intended to surpass Versailles. The whole enterprise was intended to be a 'living encyclopedia', and for its first thirty years the Palace and Gardens drew an average of two million visitors annually. The displays had an important effect on the artists of the time, and works on view by Holman Hunt, Poynter and Alma-Tadema show how they employed more accurate detail in their depictions of archaeological and historical settings, having seen the meticulous reconstructions in the Architectural Courts. With a wealth of contemporary paintings, plaster casts, original photographs and engravings, artefacts, models and film clips, this exhibition makes possible an imaginary visit to the Palace and Gardens. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 18th April.

Concluding

William West And The Regency Toy Theatre celebrates a great British institution on the 150th anniversary of the death of its inventor. In 1811, William West, a London haberdasher, began to issue sheets of engraved figures from current theatrical productions as an amusement for children. The phrase 'penny plain and twopence coloured' was coined to describe these prints, hand-coloured in deep hues. When children started to use them to perform the plays on miniature stages, West found that he had accidentally stumbled on a new career. He developed and perfected the idea over the next twenty years, commissioning wooden theatres for sale, and publishing plays that crossed the boundary from souvenir to practical toy. Later works by his successors John Redington and Benjamin Pollock are possibly better known, but this exhibition is devoted to West's pioneering work in creating the English toy theatre. It offers an insight into the childhood pursuits, scenic art, production style and popular culture of the period. The Regency toy theatre is closely related to the development of the architecture of its time, displaying the same historical and exotic styles, and effects of colour, perspective and lighting that were familiar to theatre audiences. This exhibition features the best of West's characters and scenes from the 146 miniature plays he produced. Associated material shows his sources, including scene designs, playbills and scripts, from the exotic melodramas produced at Covent Garden, Drury Lane, the Olympic and Astley's Amphitheatre. Sir John Soane's Museum until 27th March.

Travels With Edward Lear reveals a different side to the man who is best known as the author of some of the most idiosyncratic nonsense verse in the English language. Lear was in fact an outstanding watercolourist, who specialised in topographical and natural history subjects. After studying under the Pre-Raphaelite master Holman Hunt, Lear made his living throughout his life from art, by both selling his works and teaching - even giving drawing lessons to Queen Victoria. The 32 works in this exhibition are a recent acquisition and are on display for the first time. They are all depictions of locations in the eastern Mediterranean, which Lear painted during his grand tours in the 1840s and 1850s. Lear channelled his amusement at the quirkiness of human nature into his verse, which he illustrated accordingly. These sensitively observed watercolours reveal a comparable fascination with the marvels of the natural landscape, expressed in an entirely different way. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh until 21st March.

Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past is the first major national exhibition of British archaeology in over twenty years, and features many treasures on public view for the first time. It shows how much chance archaeological discoveries have revolutionised the understanding of our past, and celebrates the role of the general public in discovering treasures over the centuries, from farmers ploughing fields to present day metal detector users. Major items on display include the Mildenhall treasure of Roman silver, the 12th century Lewis Chessmen, the Hoxne hoard (the largest collection of Roman gold, silver, jewellery and coins found in Britain), the Ringlemere Bronze Age gold cup, the Winchester Iron Age gold jewellery, the Amesbury Archer and the Fishpool hoard of Medieval gold coins and jewellery. The vast majority of finds in the exhibition have been uncovered by metal 'detectorists' who now account for 90% of all treasure discoveries. Although many of the exhibits are of gold or silverwork or feature precious gems, the seemingly lowliest object can be significant to understanding our history. Medieval pewter 'toys' have little financial value, but are important social documents, telling us about everyday lives in the Middle Ages. Similarly, Tudor dress fasteners, found as casual losses rather than on specific sites, give an insight into how people wore their clothes and what they considered to be fashionable accessories. British Museum until 14th March.