Private View held by Richard Andrews
Bruegel To Rubens: The Masters Of Flemish Painting is the first exhibition ever mounted of Flemish paintings in the Royal Collection. It brings together 51 works from the 15th to 17th centuries, including masterpieces by Hans Memling, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Jan Brueghel, Van Dyck and Rubens. By the 1550s the Netherlands enjoyed a level of wealth that remained unmatched in the West for centuries, but the Eighty Years War with Spain, from 1568 to 1648, all but destroyed the region's creative industries. The paintings in this exhibition were produced in the Southern, Spanish ruled Netherlands, during this period of turbulence and its immediate aftermath. Highlights include Pieter Bruegel the Elder's 'Massacre of the Innocents', the violence of which was toned down after delivery to its patron; Peter Paul Rubens's self portrait, 'Assumption of the Virgin', created in a bid to secure the commission for the high altarpiece of Antwerp Cathedral, and 'Diana and Nymphs Spied on by Satyrs'; Jan Brueghel the Elder's 'Adam and Eve in Garden of Eden' and A Village Festival; Jacob de Formentrou's 'A Cabinet of Pictures', a classic example of the picture gallery interior; Anthony van Dyck's 'Christ Healing the Paralytic'; Frans Snyders's 'Pythagoras Advocating Vegetarianism'; Marten van Heemskerck's 'Jonah under his Gourd' and 'The Four Last Things'; Hans Vredeman de Vries's 'Christ in the House of Mary and Martha'; Crispin van den Broeck's 'Christ Healing the Sick'; and Jan Gossaert's 'The Three Children of Christian II of Denmark', among a group of portraits. The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace until 26th April.
Secrets Of The Saucy Seaside Postcard takes a behind the scenes look at the artwork that went into creating the cartoon style saucy postcards published by Bamforth & Co. The cheeky and often sexually implied innuendos and double meanings, both visual and textual, spared no-one: fat people, thin people, mothers in law, hen pecked husbands, waiters and waitresses, glamorous ladies, doctors and nurses, were all represented in risque, embarrassing or suggestive situations. The exhibition celebrates the art of the comic postcard, tracing the journey from the artist's rough sketch to the final printed version, with 200 original artworks shown alongside the original postcards. It also reveals some of the other printed items - calendars, Valentines and birthday cards - produced by Bamforth's, which operated independently for over 85 years. Finally, the show gives a modern twist to the comic postcard through specially commissioned artworks by three contemporary artists, Paddy Killer, Olivia Brown and Kate Eggleston-Wirtz, who were inspired by Bamforth's output to produce work in textiles, ceramics and paper. Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth, until 1st February.
Christmas Past: 400 Years Of Seasonal Traditions In English Homes looks at the meanings and origins of our Christmas and New Year customs, including the holly and the ivy, mistletoe and kissing boughs, decorations, trees, fire and candlelight, carol singing and the Yule log. Also featured are traditional foods and drink, with wassailing, parties, mulled wine, cakes and puddings. Twelve period living rooms decorated in authentic festive styles from 1600 to 2000 reflect our changing social habits, and show how Christmas as we now know it has evolved. There is an accompanying programme of events focusing on 20th and 21st century festivities, highlighting the main developments and changes in the domestic celebration of Christmas, with the switch from home crafted to shop bought decorations and food, the increasing popularity of Santa Claus, and the growing prominence of children, plus decoration, card making and other craft workshops, candle lit entertainment, talks, carols and other Christmas music, right through to the burning of holly and ivy on Twelfth Night, with seasonal food and drink available. The museum is located in fourteen almshouses built in 1715 by the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers. Geffrye Museum, London, until 4th January.
The Garden Museum has been reborn, with a new £500,000 interior designed by Dow Jones Architects, which has inserted 201sqm of freestanding new spaces for exhibitions, the permanent collection, education, events and archive, in the historic 14th century structure of the former St Mary-at-Lambeth Church. Outside, there is a recently established wild garden, as well as the museum's long established authentic recreation of a 17th century style knot garden.
Beth Chatto: A Retrospective is the first exhibition in the new gallery, showcasing one of the most influential living gardeners in Britain. Beth Chatto is best known for her pioneering, ecological approach to gardening, which was developed in the 1960s, yet is ever more relevant to gardeners today. The story of how the Beth Chatto Gardens grew out of a patch of wasteland at the back of her Essex fruit farm, and how this became one of the best loved gardens in Britain, is told through private archives, paintings and photographs. The exhibition examines the subtlety of her approach to design, and explores important influences that include her husband Andrew's life long study of the natural association of plants, the work of her friend, the artist Cedric Morris, her early career as an instructor for the Flower Club Movement, and her interest in music and architecture. Later publications and correspondence show how her particular kind of gardening has been debated, enjoyed and appreciated by professional and amateur gardeners alike. The Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1, until 19th April.
Close-Up: Proximity And Defamiliarisation In Art, Film And Photography explores the effects of bringing a camera lens very close to its subject. The exhibition comprises selected experiments in close-up film and photography from mid 19th century microscopy, avant-garde film and photography from the 1920s and 1930s, post-war conceptual art, and contemporary art from the 1990s and 2000s. Among the highlights are Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel's film 'Un Chien Andalou', with its unnerving close-ups of a death's head hawk moth, and the famous sequence of the slitting of a woman's eye; images by Man Ray, Brassai, Jacques-Andre Boiffard, Karl Blossfeldt, and their lesser known contemporary Aenne Biermann, which show objects from the natural and unnatural worlds, such as flowers morphing into faces, twigs taking on the monumentality of African totems, and dust breeding an entire world on the surface of Marcel Duchamp's 'Large Glass'; Man Ray's film 'Retour a la Raison', which includes a sequence made by sprinkling tin tacks directly on to the surface of the film; Stan Brakhage's film 'Mothlight', a collage of real moth wings, twigs and blades of grass run through a 16mm projector, and works focusing on the human body, with Kate Craig, Giuseppe Penone, Wim Delvoye, Mona Hatoum and Carolee Schneemann subjecting their own and others' bodies to intense scrutiny. Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, until 11th January.
Winter Wonderland, set between Hyde Park Corner and the Serpentine, is the ultimate winter theme park experience. The 24,000sqm site features London's largest outdoor ice rink - created with 130,000 litres of frozen water, weighing 130 tonnes - able to accommodate up to 400 skaters at a time, with ice guides to help beginners; a toboggan slide; a haunted mansion; an ice palace mirror maze; a traditional German Christmas Market, with over 50 separate wooden chalets, offering arts, crafts, presents and foods; numerous cafes and bars serving traditional food and mulled wine; a 50m observation wheel providing a panoramic view of London above the park; a Victorian carousel; a helter-skelter; a bungy dome; a selection of gentler amusement rides for younger children; and a bandstand with regular carol concerts and other festive entertainment; plus appearances by Father Christmas. To add to the atmosphere, the trees along Serpentine Road sparkle with thousands of Christmas lights highlighting the natural beauty of Hyde Park. Entrance to the Winter Wonderland site is free, with fees for individual attractions. Hyde Park, 10am-10pm daily (except Christmas Day) until 6th January.
Babylon: Myth And Reality explores the continuing dialogue between the Babylon of the imagination and the historic evidence for one of the great cities of antiquity at the moment of its climax and eclipse. For 2,000 years the myth of Babylon has haunted the European imagination, as the Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens, Belshazzar's Feast and the Fall of Babylon have inspired artists, writers, poets, philosophers and film makers. Over the past 200 years, archaeologists have pieced together the real Babylon - an imperial capital, a great centre of science, art and commerce. The exhibition focuses on the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar in 6th century BC, through 100 objects, including glazed brick panels from the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way; cuneiform tablets revealing the history of the period, such as one listing subsistence rations for Jehoiachin the exiled king of Judah, one noting the dimensions of the ziggurat that provided the inspiration for the Tower of Babel, and one describing the New Year celebrations that took place in and around the Processional Way; and a recently excavated Stela of Nabonidus from Saudi Arabia, which exemplifies the destruction of Babylonian monuments by the later Persian administration. Artists' responses to Babylon are shown side by side with ancient sculptures and clay tablets, with key works including William Blake's 'Nebuchadnezzar', John Martin's 'Belshazzar's Feast', several 16th century Flemish and Dutch Tower of Babel paintings, and a study by Degas for 'Semiramis construisante Babylone'. The exhibition concludes with a consideration of Babylon's recent history, showing how images of the ancient city remain state icons used on items such as stamps and banknotes, and looks at the physical harm that the site of Babylon has suffered as a result of contemporary events and war. British Museum until 15th March.
The Intimate Portrait is the first exhibition to examine a relatively unknown aspect of British portraiture from the period between the 1730s and the 1830s. Some of the country's greatest artists produced beautifully worked intimate portraits in pencil, chalks, watercolours and pastels, as well as miniatures on ivory, which were often exhibited, sold and displayed as finished works of art. While oil paintings and sculpture dominated the public art of portraiture, many artists were simultaneously involved in creating more private portraits for domestic consumption and display. Portrait miniatures painted in watercolour on ivory were worn as jewellery or displayed as treasures in cabinets, pastels with their fragile surfaces were protected under glass and hung in frames, while drawings were either hung in family groups or kept in albums or portfolios to be shown to friends and family. The exhibition brings together some 200 works by around 50 artists, including many of the leading figures of the period, such as Allan Ramsay, Thomas Lawrence, David Wilkie, Richard Cosway, John Brown, Archibald Skirving, Francis Cotes, George Dance, Henry Fuseli and John Downman, with self-portrait drawings by the rivals Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. The show examines the themes of self-portraiture, the depiction of artists' families and friends, and the portrayal of the political, social, literary and theatrical celebrities of the day, with sitters including Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Robert Burns, Lady Hamilton, the Duke of Wellington and the young Queen Victoria. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, until 1st February.
This Is War! Robert Capa At Work features the work of one of the leading photographers of the 20th century, and a pioneer of photojournalism. Robert Capa captured war as it unfolded on the front line, and his images have now come to define key moments in history. Working with the Leica, a super light-weight camera invented by a mountaineer, Capa got closer to the heat of the battle than any previous photographer, redefining how war was pictured. Taking its title from the headline of a 1938 Picture Post story, this exhibition brings together rarely seen photographs, vintage prints, contact sheets, handwritten observations, personal letters, and original magazine layouts, and looks closely at Capa's working process, and the construction of six of his key photo stories from the 1930s and 1940s. The exhibition includes an examination of the most famous image of the Spanish Civil War, Death of a Loyalist Militiaman, Cerro Muriano, generally known as 'The Falling Soldier', capturing a soldier who has just been shot and falling to his death, with, for the first time, all the known images taken by Capa on that day, providing new details to help understand the events that resulted in the creation of this iconic photograph. The show also unites the 10 existing images of Capa's legendary shots of the Omaha beach landing in Normandy, France on D-Day, 6 June 1944. Although many of the original negatives were destroyed in a darkroom accident, the surviving images have become synonymous with the Allied victory in the Second World War. In addition, there are selected works from the recently discovered 'Mexican suitcase', a valise missing for 70 years containing thousands of Capa's negatives from the Spanish Civil War, on public view for the first time. Barbican Gallery until 25th January.
Freeze Frame is a display of some of the earliest photographs of the Arctic, its landscape and people, mounted to coincide with International Polar Year. The exhibition looks at two expeditions to the Arctic, under Captain Edward Inglefield in 1854, and Captain George Nares in 1875. Both expeditions used photographic processes that were in their infancy, involving a significant amount of bulky equipment and chemicals in order to develop the negatives. However, the technique used by Nares had a shorter exposure time, allowing more photographs of the expedition activities to be recorded. Inglefield's photographs were taken on the west coast of Greenland, where he stopped during his voyage to communicate with a naval expedition based at Lancaster Sound searching for Sir John Franklin. The photographs were taken using the wet collodion process, first introduced in 1851. They show Inglefield's ships Phoenix, Diligence and Talbot off the west coast of Greenland, and include portraits of the Inuit, Danish and British people he encountered there. Nares commanded the Polar Expedition with HMS Alert and Discovery. The two photographers, one in each ship, used the dry-plate process, which had been first proposed in 1871. The expedition failed in the objective of reaching the Pole due to the ice and the crews suffering from scurvy, however, significant scientific results were achieved. The prints show expedition activities, people and landscape and were published, setting a precedent for later polar expeditions in the 20th century. Queen's House, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until 31st December.
Constructed - 40 Years Of The UEA Collection presents highlights from the University of East Anglia's collection of Abstract and Constructivist Art, Architecture and Design. The collection, which was founded in response to the modernity of the University's architecture, now numbers some 400 objects, including sculpture, painting, graphics and design, together with architectural models, stage sets and furniture. The earliest group of works in the exhibition date from between 1910 and 1930, and include a Le Corbusier chair and architectural model, a painting by Sonia Delaunay, the Pravda Tower model by the Vesnin brothers, Rietveld chairs, a charcoal drawing by David Bomberg and 2D works by Wassily Kandinsky and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy. The next group features the work of emigre artists who came to England during the Second World War, and includes a room setting with Isokon furniture, and pieces designed by Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius. The third group, The British Constructionists, includes work by artists such as Victor Pasmore, Mary and Kenneth Martin, Peter Lowe, Gillian Wise and Anthony Hill, together with European artists such as Jesus Raphael Soto and Francois Morellet, and features 3D constructions, sculptures, reliefs and works on canvas that use a strong simple palette of colours, clean lines and geometric shapes. Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, until 14th December.
Ford Madox Brown The Unofficial Pre-Raphaelite is a reassessment of the work of one of the comparatively lesser known artists of the Pre-Raphaelite group of artists. Ford Madox Brown is celebrated as the painter of 'The Last of England' and 'Work', yet next to John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt he is a more shadowy figure. Never an official member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, he was a major influence or what he described as 'an aider and abettor of Pre-Raphaelitism'. Recent research has revealed the breath of Madox Brown's achievements as a modernist and a realist in a career spanning some 60 years, during which he produced iconic observations of modern 19th century life. Well known and little exhibited sketches, study drawings, watercolours, stained glass designs, wood engravings as well as paintings and archive material have been selected to investigate themes such as historical subject matter and portraiture, illustrations for literature and the decorative arts, which became major concerns for Madox Brown. The importance of his wife, Emma Hill, as his most influential model is also revealed in a series of head studies alongside such landmark paintings as 'The Pretty Baa Lambs'. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery until 14th December.