News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd August 2011


Devotion By Design: Italian Altarpieces Before 1500 investigates the development of altarpieces, looking at changes in form, style and type, and their relationship to the monumental architecture that surrounded them. Altarpieces are an image-bearing structure placed upon or behind an altar in a Christian church, usually forming the focus of devotion for worshippers, and normally decorated by painters and/or sculptors. They can vary considerably in size and in complexity of construction, ranging from simple dossals (a horizontal panel or cloth either fronting or set at the back of an altar) to huge polyptychs (a painting divided into multiple sections or panels). They are decorated with a range of imagery which often reflects the circumstances of their original commission and location. This exhibition of over 40 works looks at the original functions and locations, as well as formal, stylistic and typological developments of altarpieces, drawing on the wealth of scientific examination and scholarly study undertaken in this field over the past 30 years. Several altarpieces are free-standing, revealing their construction, while frames of certain works have been removed, offering clues as to their original function and appearance. Virtual reconstructions of disassembled altarpieces set dislocated fragments in context, and staging in one room evokes a Renaissance-era church, giving the sense of encountering altarpieces in a 15th century sacred space. While many works by artists such as Piero della Francesca, Andrea Mantegna, Giovanni dal Ponte, Francesco Botticini and Bennozzo Gozzoli are well known, the exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see a number of pieces not normally on public view. National Gallery until 2nd October.

'Capability' Brown And The Landscapes Of Middle England the first ever exhibition about the life and work of Britain's greatest landscape designer. This display tells the story of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown through a series of case studies displayed in a house set in its own 'Capability' Brown landscape. Completing some 170 projects in all, Brown did more than any other landscape architect to transform the country parks and estates of the landed gentry in the 18th century, and his vision still defines the look of the British country house. Brown replaced formal gardens with gently undulating grasslands, naturalistic clumps of trees and meandering lakes, enhanced by rustic bridges, follies and chapels. The exhibition examines how Brown designed his natural, neoclassical arcadias, how his landscapes were constructed to work in practice, how he responded to technological advances in shooting and carriage-making, and how he addressed the enormous task of moving tons of earth, to create hills, vales and lakes, in an age before mechanisation. The focus is on famous 'Capability' Brown landscapes in the Midlands region, including Croome, Charlecote Park, Combe Abbey and Compton Verney itself. The display showcases the latest research on the design and use of Georgian landscapes with paintings, maps, accounts, historic guns, manuals and specially commissioned photography. Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 2nd October.

Glamour Of The Gods: Hollywood Portraits examines the importance of photography in creating the stars of Hollywood from 1920 to 1960. The exhibition comprises around 90 vintage photographs, including portraits of Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Louise Brooks, Joan Crawford, Vivien Leigh, Loretta Young, Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, Rita Hayworth, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, taken by nearly 40 photographers, including George Hurrell, Clarence Sinclair Bull, Laszlo Willinger, Bob Coburn, Davis Boulton and Ruth Harriet Louise. It is a rare opportunity to view these important artifacts of a now extinct Hollywood studio system, and features both iconic and previously unseen studio portraits. These are shown alongside film scene stills, including Lillian Gish for 'The Wind', Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for 'Swing Time' and James Dean for 'Rebel Without A Cause'. These stills photographs, which were used for lobby cards and posters, had to encapsulate the film plot, or be powerful and dramatic enough to attract film-goers in just one image. The studios in Hollywood between 1920 and 1960 exercised an extraordinary level of control over the image of the stars they represented. The portraits they released to the public and press depicted the actors as glamorous and inaccessible, imbuing them with mystique. The photographers in this exhibition were the leading photographers employed by the studios to shoot and oversee the star portraits. Often stars built up a relationship with a photographer as was the case with Greta Garbo and Clarence Sinclair Bull, and Joan Crawford and George Hurrell. This was a time before paparazzi, and these photographs distributed by the studios were the only vehicle of connection between stars and fans. National Portrait Gallery until 23rd October.


The State Rooms Of Buckingham Palace, the 19 rooms that are used to receive and entertain guests of State on ceremonial and official occasions, have once again been thrown open to visitors. They are furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude; sculpture by Canova and Chantrey; Sevres porcelain; and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world. This year the special display is Royal Faberge, bringing together over 100 masterpieces by the Russian jeweller Carl Faberge, from Imperial Easter Eggs and dazzling jewel-encrusted boxes to miniature carvings of favourite royal pets, including cigarette cases, photograph frames and desk clocks, some never seen in public before. It reveals how the world's finest collection of work by the great Russian goldsmith and jeweller has been created by six successive generations of the British Royal Family. As a bonus, the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress, veil, shoes and Halo Tiara are featured in an additional display. Visitors can also enjoy a walk in the 39 acre garden with its 19th century lake, which provides a haven for wild life in the centre of London, including 30 different species of birds, and more than 350 different wild flowers, and offers views of the Garden Front of the Palace. Buckingham Palace until 30th September.

Twombly And Poussin: Arcadian Painters is a unique exploration of the contemporary and classical, looking at these two figures side by side for the first time. Although contemporary artist Cy Twombly and 17th century classical painter Nicolas Poussin are separated by three centuries, the artists nonetheless share remarkable similarities. Indeed, Twombly once said he would have liked to have been Poussin in another time. The connections between them are highlighted through the key themes of Arcadia and the pastoral, Venus and Eros, anxiety and theatricality and mythological figures, which are central to both artists' work. Highlights include Twombly's 'Hero and Leandro (to Christopher Marlowe)' and 'Quattro Stagioni: Autunno'; and Poussin's 'The Arcadian Shepherds', 'Rinaldo and Armida', 'The Triumph of Pan' and 'Seven Sacraments', a series exploring the meaning of the Christian sacraments from Baptism to Penance, which represent a high point in Western European art. The show also includes the premiere of 'Edwin Parker', art film-maker Tacita Dean's 16mm portrait of Twombly working in his studio in Lexington, Virginia. Dulwich Picture Gallery, College Road, London SE21, until 25th September.

Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography In The 20th Centuryi is dedicated to the birth of modern photography. Brassai, Robert Capa, Andre Kertesz, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Martin Munkacsi left their homeland Hungary to make their names in Europe and the USA, profoundly influencing the course of modern photography. Over 200 photographs from 1914 to 1989 show how they were at the forefront of stylistic developments, and reveal their achievements in the context of the rich photographic tradition of Hungary. These photographers brought about important changes in photojournalism, documentary, art and fashion photography. By following their paths through Germany, France and the USA, the exhibition explores their distinct approaches, signalling key aspects of modern photography. Brassai vividly brought to life the nocturnal characters and potent atmosphere of Paris at night; Robert Capa invented war photography, documenting the Spanish Civil War, the D-Day landings and other events of the Second World War; Andre Kertesz, using a hand-held camera, captured lyrical impressions of the ephemeral moments of everyday urban life in Paris; Lsszlo Moholy-Nagy was a pioneer of photograms, photomontage and visual theory, using unconventional perspectives; and Martin Munkacsi revolutionised fashion photography by taking photographs of models and celebrities outdoors, investing his photographs with dynamism and vitality. The exhibition also celebrates the diversity of the photographic milieu in Hungary, from the early 20th century professional and club photography of Rudolf Balogh, Karoly Escher and Jozsef Pecsi, to the more recent documentary and art photography of Peter Korniss and Gabor Kerekes. Royal Academy of Arts until 2nd October.

High Arctic is the first exhibition in a new £35m wing, which comprises an special exhibitions gallery, a permanent gallery that introduces the story of Britain and the sea; a state of the art library and archive; a restaurant and cafe featuring terraces with views over Greenwich; and a new main entrance from Greenwich Park. The exhibition conveys the scale, beauty and fragility of the unique Arctic environment through an immersive installation that encourages us to question our relationship with the world around us. In September 2010 Matt Clark travelled to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, which lies between mainland Norway and the North Pole, aboard The Noorderlicht, a 100 year old Dutch schooner. During the voyage he came into contact with scientists, poets, musicians and polar bears, and saw vast tundra, monochromatic rainbows and huge chunks of ice falling from calving glaciers. Conceived as a response to the expedition, the installation uses a combination of sound, light and sculptural forms to create an abstracted arctic landscape. Ultraviolet torches unlock hidden elements, and constantly shifting patterns of graphics and text that react to visitors approaching, as a soundscape weaving in the voices of arctic explorers across the centuries flows through the gallery. An archipelago of thousands of columns fills the space, each representing a real glacier in Svalbard, while an artificial horizon borders the gallery as a seamless canvas of light, shifting in intensity and colour. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until January.

Stanley Spencer And The English Garden focuses on the garden views and rustic landscapes of the 1920s, 30s and 40s by the eccentric, quintessentially English artist. Stanley Spencer's garden pictures, which have often been overlooked by critics in favour of his more visionary subjects, are not just beautiful oils, but reflect the same passion as his nudes and biblical paintings. Spencer's virtuoso treatment of this highly accessible and enormously attractive subject demonstrates his immense feeling for, and understanding of, the way the English landscape and the traditional English garden were changing during the first half of the 20th century. They register and reflect his concern that contemporary building development was redefining or even eradicating familiar environments, as towns encroached on the countryside. The paintings also chart Spencer's personal vision of the garden as a 'private heaven'. Among the highlights are 'Ferry Hotel Lawn, Cookham', 'Wisteria at Englefield', 'Landscape, Cookham Dene', 'Cottages at Burghclere', 'Cookham Rise: Cottages', 'Greenhouse and Garden' and 'Wisteria, Cookham'. The paintings are accompanied by a number of photographs from the Spencer archive showing the working and home life of artist. Compron Verney, Warwickshire, until 25th September.

The Worlds Of Mervyn Peake examines the creative output of the novelist, poet, playwright and illustrator through the worlds he inhabited, both real and imagined. Mervyn Peake was a prolific and astonishingly original writer and artist, who touched at one time or another on almost every literary form. The exhibition brings together a wealth of material from the Mervyn Peake archive, with previously unknown works, including the manuscript of the soon to be published fourth Titus book 'Titus Awakes', completed by Peake's wife Maeve Gilmore after his death; and the complete first scene of his sci-fi play 'Isle Escape', in which a couple escape to a tropical island to wait out a world war that they later discover failed to take place. Other highlights include Gormenghast notebooks, illustrated with character drawings of the Prunesquallors, Flay and Barquentine; Peake's original drawings for 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking Glass'; a letter home to his wife from Germany in 1945, where he attended the war crimes trial of Peter Back and visited Bergen-Belsen as war correspondent for The Leader magazine; a storyboard for an animated television programme 'Just a Line', in which an ordinary little line transforms into pirates, princesses and other strange sights as it journeys across the screen; 'The White Chief of the Umzimbooboo Kaffirs', the earliest surviving story by Peake, written when he was 11 years old on his return from China, where he had spent the first part of his life; and correspondence from Dylan Thomas, Graham Greene and C S Lewis. British Library until 18th September.


Watercolour is a fresh assessment of the history of watercolour painting in Britain from its emergence in the Middle Ages through to the present day. This exhibition features around 200 works, including pieces by historic artists such as William Blake, Thomas Girtin and JMW Turner, through to modern and contemporary artists including Patrick Heron, Peter Doig and Tracey Emin. Drawing out a history that traces the origins of watercolour back to medieval illuminated manuscripts, the exhibition reassesses the commonly held belief that the medium first flourished during a 'golden age' of British watercolour, from roughly 1750-1850. It reveals an older tradition evident in manuscripts, topography and miniatures, and also challenges the notion that watercolour is singularly British, by showing some key watercolours from continental Europe, which influenced British artists, such as Jacques Le Moyne, Anthony van Dyck and Wenceslaus Hollar. Artists used watercolour because it was so versatile and portable, and before the advent of photography watercolour was used primarily for recording eye-witness accounts. The exhibition shows the wide range of contexts in which it was employed, including documentation of exotic flora and fauna on Captain Cook's voyages, spontaneous on the spot recordings of landscapes by artists such as Turner and John Sell Cotman, and on the battlefield by war artists such as William Simpson and Paul Nash. Often thought of as a medium for traditional representational painting, notably landscape, the sea and picturesque buildings, this show overturns such assumptions with works by contemporary artists who have reinterpreted the medium, including Andy Goldsworthy, Ian McKeever and Anish Kapoor. It also shows how these contemporary pieces form part of a longer tradition where watercolour has been used for visionary or abstract purposes with examples ranging from Blake through to the Pre-Raphaelites, Symbolists and Neo-Romantics in more recent times. Tate Britain until 21st August.

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around 1,250 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from around 12,000 submissions, from 27 countries, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. The majority of works are for sale, offering visitors an opportunity to purchase original artwork by both high profile and up and coming artists. Over £70,000 is given out to artists included in the exhibition through 10 prizes. This year the show has been masterminded by Christopher Le Brun and Michael Craig-Martin, with Piers Gough and Alan Stanton overseeing the architecture section. There is no overall theme, but Gallery 3 is in the style of a 'salon hang' exploiting the grandeur of the Academy's principal room, with paintings of all sizes hung from the dado rail to the picture rail. Works on display include a large canvas by the Danish painter Per Kirkeby and Keith Tyson's apocalyptic painting 'Deep Impact'. One room features works by newly elected and established Royal Academicians, including Tacita Dean, Gary Hume, Allen Jones, Cornelia Parker, Jenny Saville and Alison Wilding. The Central Hall hosts a celebration of photography, including an image by Cindy Sherman. There is also a memorial gallery dedicated to showing the works of Ben Levene. Outside, the courtyard features the first public display of Jeff Koons's 'Coloring Book'. The Royal Academy of Arts until 15th August.

Ravilious In Essex features works painted by the watercolourist, illustrator and designer during the time he lived in Essex in the 1930s. Eric Ravilious had a particular talent for taking a relatively humdrum (if eccentric) subject, and making it an object of wonder. Rusting machinery, old trams, telegraph poles, iron fences, broken down cars and discarded farm equipment were all his favourites. Ravilious perfectly captured the timelessness of English village and rural life in the decade before the Second World War. This exhibition offers an opportunity to survey his development as a watercolourist, with paintings from his time in Great Bardfield: 'The Attic Bedroom' and 'Two Women in a Garden', Castle Hedingham: two different views of 'Hull's Mill' and 'Village Street', and Ironbridge: 'Ironbridge at Ewenbridge'. Other works include 'Butcher's Shop' and 'Tree Trunk and Wheel Barrow'. The paintings are accompanied by Ravilious's wood engravings, including book covers and other materials that have not been seen in half a century. There are even the wood blocks themselves, still ink-black and showing the signs of use. In addition, there is an opportunity to compare the designs Ravilious created for Wedgwood with the engravings and watercolours. Fry Art Gallery, Castle Street, Saffron Walden, Essex, until 12th August.