Private View held by Richard Andrews
Virginia Woolf: Art, Life And Vision explores the life and achievements of one of Britain's most important and celebrated writers of the 20th century. Virginia Woolf was a very significant thinker, who played a pivotal role at the heart of modernism. The exhibition, featuring over 140 items, comprising painted portraits, sculpture, photographs, drawings, personal objects and rare archival material, explores her achievements as a novelist, intellectual, campaigner and public figure. The display looks at Woolf's early life, literary interests, her fascination with London, awareness of modernity, and her developing feminist and political views. These are brought into focus through letters to and from her friends and acquaintances, extracts from her personal diaries, and original books that were first printed through the Hogarth Press, which she founded with Leonard Woolf in 1917. Highlights of the display include portraits of Woolf by her Bloomsbury Group contemporaries, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Roger Fry; a collection of photographs by Beresford, Man Ray, and Beck and McGregor who photographed her for Vogue; one of Picasso's 'Weeping Woman' drawings created specifically for a Spanish Civil War fundraising event in which Woolf took part; and the letters that she wrote to her sister and to her husband shortly before she died. The exhibition also features portraits of those she was closest to, including a selection of intimate photographs recording her time spent with friends, family and literary peers. National Portrait Gallery until 26th October.
Blackpool Illuminations have extended the holiday season and entertained visitors to the seaside town since 1879, when 8 plain electric arc lamps bathed the Promenade in what was described as 'artificial sunshine'. While the basic idea remains the same, the style and scale of Blackpool's end of season electrical extravaganza have little in common with that first experiment in lighting. Traditional lamps are still used, but now alongside the newest technology such as lasers, fibre-optics, low-voltage neon and even real fire and water. The show now costs £2.4m to stage, and stretches for 6 miles of spectacular colour, light and movement. New features this year include Illuminasia, combining the craft of traditional Chinese lanterns with modern lighting, in the historic Winter Gardens, featuring ´The Mysteries Of China´, ´The Blackpool Experience´, ´The Planetarium´, ´Land Of The Giants´, ´Under The Sea´ and ´The Wonders Of The World´, complete with a 13 metre high model of Blackpool Tower; Alice's Garden, drawing on the story of Alice In Wonderland with the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and a magical water garden; Dynamo, with multiple and ever changing spinning colours in a whirlwind of light; and Brain Box, a giant interactive walk through light box showing how the brain functions; plus old favourites renewed and improved. Visitors can become part of the display, as they travel along the Promenade aboard a tram dressed up by lights as a wild west train, ocean liner or space rocket, from dusk to 11.30pm most nights. Blackpool Promenade, until 9th November.
Enduring War: Grief, Grit And Humour examines how people both at home and on the front line coped with life during the First World War: from moments of patriotic fervour to periods of anxious inactivity, shock and despair. With personal objects, such as letters, a handkerchief bearing lyrics for 'It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary', and schoolboy essays reacting to airship raids over London, as well as recruitment posters, magazines and even a knitting pattern for balaclavas, the exhibition considers themes such as humour, faith, comradeship and family, and looks at the contribution so many made to the war effort. Key items in the exhibition include a letter from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to his mother describing his worries about his son serving at the Front, written in the light of his belief in Spiritualism; a letter written from the Trenches by the poet Isaac Rosenberg; and the original manuscripts of other well known war poets, such as Rupert Brooke's 'The Soldier'. Exploring the importance of humour during the war as a way to express or mask anxieties, the exhibition includes a selection of caricatures, cartoons, humorous Christmas cards, a romance novel set in a munition factory and trench journals, magazines full of in-jokes and dark humour created at the Front to lift the troops' spirits. In a poignant conclusion the exhibition explores the grief expressed over the millions of lives lost during the First World War: a soldier's last letter home as he goes into battle, alongside manuscripts of Wilfred Owen's 'Anthem for Doomed Youth', Vaughan Williams' 'A Pastoral Symphony' and Laurence Binyon's 'For the Fallen'. The British Library until 12th October.
Joan Fontcuberta: Stranger Than Fiction is the first major exhibition in Britain of work by the contemporary Catalan artist. It is an eye-opening collection of photographs and artefacts in which Joan Fontcuberta subtly questions the use of the photographic image as evidence, by combining visually compelling and mischievous narratives with an acute, deadpan humour. Using the visual languages of journalism, advertising, museum displays and scientific journals, these convincing yet subversive works are an investigation into photography's authority and our inclination to believe what we see. The exhibition features some of Fontcuberta's best known works, including photographs, film, dioramas, scientific reports and related ephemera. A youth under the Franco dictatorship and an early career in advertising piqued Fontcuberta's interest in the use of the photographic image as a storytelling tool, which developed into a life-long creative interrogation of photography's veracity. In constantly shifting his methods to encompass new developments in photographic practice, Fontcuberta remains one of the most innovative practitioners in his field. With highlights including astonishing photographs of mermaid fossils and incredible reports on mysterious fauna, the display presents six conceptually independent narratives from Fontcuberta's body of work, a visual universe in which the real and the imagined combine to startling effect. Science Museum, London, until 9th November.
American Impressionism: A New Vision explores the impact of French Impressionism on American artists in the late 19th century. The exhibition brings together nearly 80 paintings by some of America's most celebrated artists, such as James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt. It also features the work of a number of significant artists who are less well known in Britain, among them Theodore Robinson, Childe Hassam, William Merritt Chase, Edmund Tarbell and John Twachtman. Paintings by the major French artists Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot and Edgar Degas demonstrate how closely the Impressionists worked with their American colleagues. The exhibition reflects the impact of Impressionism on both Americans working abroad in the 1880s, and those working at home in the following decade. Cassatt and Sargent, who cultivated friendships with Monet and Degas, participated in the development and promotion of this revolutionary new way of painting. More than any other American artist working in France Mary Cassatt helped to shape Impressionism through her friendships with Degas and Morisot, participating in four Impressionist exhibitions. In America, Hassam, Chase, Tarbell and Twachtman adapted Impressionism by responding to the new subject matter, compositions and colours of the movement in scenes depicting their native country and creating a new vision for an American audience. Their subjects included New York parks, East Coast beaches, New England villages and the image of the American woman. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, until 19th October.
Time: Tattoo Art Today features original artworks by some of the world's most influential contemporary tattoo artists. The exhibition presents specially commissioned works from 70 tattoo artists including Ed Hardy, Horiyoshi III, Paul Booth, Rose Hardy, Chris Garver, Ami James, Morg, Theo Mindell, Fillip Leu and Mister Cartoon, curated by fellow tattoo artist Claudia De Sabe and publisher Miki Vialetto. Each artist created a completely new work on the theme of Time, working with any medium and on any canvas apart from their usual surface of skin. The resulting collection ranges from oil painting, watercolours and traditional Japanese silk painting to paint layering on real skulls, airbrush and bronze sculpture. Time and all it infers (such as life and death) is a classic, common motif in tattoo art, expressed through a vast variety of iconographic combinations. For example, the popular inkings of butterflies, blossoms and the handled cross signify life, while memento moris such as skulls or the goddess Kali denote death. Many of these symbols are present in the striking original pieces displayed here. Somerset House, London, until 5th 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 Childhood, offering an unprecedented glimpse into life as a young member of the royal family growing up at Buckingham Palace over the last 250 years. It brings together objects from well-loved toys and treasured family gifts to tiny childhood outfits, as well as previously unseen photographs and film footage. 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 28th September.
Ming: The Golden Empire examines the era that was the starting point of modern China. The exhibition comprises a collection of around 150 original artefacts that introduce key aspects of the Ming dynasty, the world's largest, wealthiest, most cultured, and most populous empire, focussing on the remarkable cultural, technological and economic achievements of the period. Exquisite luxury items and rare objects reveal the wealth and opulence of the Ming imperial court, which lasted 276 years, from 1368 to 1644. These include the iconic blue and white porcelain with which the Ming period is synonymous, as well as sumptuous silk textiles, gold and jades, and rare examples of elaborately enamelled cloisonne. A richly coloured painting from the early Ming illustrates the symbolic grandeur and geometrical order of Beijing's newly-built Forbidden City, the imperial seat for emperors and their households for the following five centuries, and the world's largest palace complex. Artworks by leading painters reveal the preoccupations of Ming society's cultural elite, from courtesans to dreams of escape from official life. The Ming was also a period of social transformation, resulting in a thriving consumer culture in which many forms of visual art and handicraft flourished. Beautiful furniture, musical instruments, Buddhist artefacts and items of personal adornment bring to life the elegant tastes and concerns of this gilded age. Investigating the prosperous Ming economy and its effects on social order and cultural systems during the 16th and 17th centuries, the exhibition also reflects on the legacy the Ming has left Chinese culture. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 19th October.
Louis Kahn: The Power Of Architecture is an assessment of the visionary architect, expert manipulator of form and light, and creator of uniquely dramatic buildings. The exhibition explores Louis Kahn's work and legacy through architectural models, original drawings, notebooks, travel sketches, photographs and films, bringing to life his singular career and diverse output. Although regarded as one of America's foremost architects, Kahn nonetheless realised few buildings in his lifetime and died practically bankrupt, but his search for an architecture that grows out of a sense of place seems more important than ever. Kahn drew on a wide range of sources, from ancient ruins to the work of Le Corbusier, using innovations in construction techniques to design modern buildings that also project an elemental, primitive power. He was a perfectionist and an artist, who also believed that architects have an important social responsibility. All of Kahn's important projects are extensively documented, from his early urban planning concepts and single-family houses to late works such as the Roosevelt Memorial, not completed until after his death. Kahn's greatest masterpieces all take the form of inspiring institutions: The Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, designed to be 'a facility worthy of a visit by Picasso'; the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, a showcase for his ability to work with light; and the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, testament to the impact of his monumental style. Design Museum, Shad Thames, London, until 12th October.
Digital Revolution explores and celebrates the transformation of the arts through digital technology since the 1970s. The festival-style event, the most comprehensive presentation of digital creativity ever to be staged in Britain, comprising immersive and interactive art works alongside exhibition-based displays, takes place across the entire complex with ticketed and non-ticketed elements. The exhibition brings together for the first time a range of artists, filmmakers, architects, designers, musicians and game developers pushing the boundaries of their fields using digital media. It also looks to the future considering the impact of creative coding, DIY culture, digital communities and the creative possibilities offered by technologies including augmented reality, artificial intelligence, wearables and 3D printing. The show includes new commissions from artists Umbrellium, Universal Everything, Seeper, will.i.am and Yuri Suzuki; a collaboration with Google in the form of digital art commissions called DevArt, pushing the possibilities of coding as a creative art form, an online inspiration hub and a competition for undiscovered creative coders; work by Visual Effects Supervisor Paul Franklin and his team at Double Negative for Christopher Nolan's film Inception; plus works by artists and performers including Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Chris Milk, Aaron Koblin, Bjork, Amon Tobin; and game developers such as Harmonix Music Systems. Barbican, London, until 14th September.
Peace Breaks Out! London And Paris In The Summer Of 1814 explores a pivotal moment in the history of Europe through the eyes of its contemporaries. The Peace of 1814 and the subsequent congress of Vienna in 1815, after the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, laid the geo-political framework of the European Empires that would dominate the Continent and much of the globe up to the outbreak of the First World War. The Allies who celebrated the signing of the Treaty as guests of the Prince Regent in London, would, almost exactly one hundred years later, face each on the battlefields of Europe - this time as enemies. The exhibition includes over 100 rare items, including celebratory paintings and prints created for the festivities held in London and across the United Kingdom to mark the Treaty; drawings of Paris, demonstrating the architectural changes that took place under Napoleon's government; Napoleonica - objects belonging to Napoleon and his closest collaborators; and a quirky, satirical depiction of Englishmen visiting Paris, as seen by the French. There are accompanying by works by contemporary artists Adam Dant, Romilly Saumarez Smith, Laura Knight, Alice Pattullo, Bridie Hall and Paul Bommer offering 21st century interpretations of the Peace of 1814 and of the Regency and Parisian fashions that were so celebrated that year. Sir John Soane Museum, 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2, until 13th September.
Keith Vaughan: Figure And Ground explores the work of the mid 20th century British artist and examines the themes that preoccupied him - the male figure and pictorial space. Initially influenced by Graham Sutherland, Keith Vaughan's early work was Neo-Romantic in spirit, but in the late 1950s he developed his semi-abstractionist 'assemblies'. The exhibition comprises some 50 items from a wide range of work in different media: drawings for some of his most important book illustration commissions, his experiments in print-making, and his photographs. Highlights include the lithographs 'The Woodman' also known as 'The Blue Boy', 'Old Seaweed Hoist' and 'Finisterre'; paintings 'Harvest Assembly' and 'Small Assembly of Figures'; and illustrations made for Arthur Rimbaud's A Season In Hell. This is a rare chance to see work by one of the leading figures in post Second World War British artists.University Gallery, Northumbria University, Sandyford Road, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne until 12th September.