News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd December 2014

Commencing

Peder Balke is the first exhibition in Britain to feature works by one of the most original yet least known painters of 19th century Scandinavia, now recognised as one of the forerunners of Modernism. Peder Balke was one of the very first artists to venture to the far north of his native Norway, when in 1832 he visited the distinctive, dramatic and rugged lands of the North Cape, an experience of primal nature so profound that it allowed him to define his highly individual painting style. Balke explored these bleak and original Arctic Circle land and seascape motifs in increasingly austere images throughout his life. A lack of commercial success forced Balke to abandon his career as a painter, yet this wilderness was so alluring to him, that he continued to paint small scenes purely for pleasure. In these later works the subjects are the same - lone lighthouses, mountain peaks, roiling seas - but the manner of their execution is profoundly different, and they are now recognised as highly original improvisations. They are much more experimental, with Balke using brushwork or even his hands to suggest seascapes, and are extraordinarily prescient of later Expressionism. The exhibition comprises around 50 unique, innovative and virtuosic works that represent every facet of Balke's painting. Highlights include 'The Tempest', 'Seascape', 'The Mountain Range, Trolltindene', 'From North Cape', 'Landscape from Finnmark' and 'Sami with Reindeer Under the Midnight Sun'. National Gallery until 12th April.

Rebel Visions: The War Art Of CRW Nevinson explores the powerful art and contradictory personality of the mercurial British war artist. Famous for his dramatic, often haunting images of the First World War battlefield and its soldiers, CRW Nevinson's arresting paintings, drawing, prints and posters also acknowledged the sometimes unpalatable effects war had on British society. Always a rebel, Nevinson produced work that ranged in variety from official government war propaganda to later more jaggedly geometric anti-war protest compositions, some of which were censored. Nevinson's visions of the First World War range from sympathetic and largely realistic depictions of the soldiers during moments of quiet, to violently abstract visions of mechanised warfare that owe much to the influence of Futurism. The exhibition features 21 works from throughout Nevinson's career. Highlights of include 'La Patrie', 'A Star Shell', 'Returning to the Trenches', 'The Dressing Station ', 'War Profiteers', 'Britain's Efforts and Ideals: Acetylene Welding' and 'The Unending Cult of Human Sacrifice'. Barber Institute Of Fine Arts, Birmingham, until 25th January.

Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Conde Nast Years 1923 - 1937 offers a rare insight into a distinctive approach towards portraiture and fashion photography. This exhibition features over 200 vintage prints from when Edward Steichen was working for Conde Nast on Vogue and Vanity Fair. First and foremost an independent art photographer, Steichen was a major pioneer in the development of the medium and its status as an art form. He was already an internationally celebrated painter and photographer when he was offered the position as chief photographer at Conde Nast. For the next 15 years, Steichen took full advantage of the resources and prestige conferred by his role to produce an oeuvre of unequalled brilliance. His work defined the culture of his time, capturing iconic figures in politics, literature, journalism, dance, theatre and the world of haute-couture. The works in the exhibition convey Steichen's forward thinking and 'painterly' techniques. He borrowed from a range of aesthetic movements including Impressionism, Art Nouveau and Symbolism to create a characteristic Art Deco style. Within his meticulous compositions, he treated his subjects as vehicles through which to explore shape, form, texture, light and shade. These photographs depict designs from Chanel, Lanvin, Lelong, Patou, Schiaparelli amongst many others, alongside portraits of Greta Garbo, Cecil B De Mille, Winston Churchill, Marlene Dietrich, Josef von Sternberg, Frank Lloyd Wright, Amelia Earhart, W B Yeats, Colette, Martha Graham, Fred Astaire, Vladimir Horowitz and George Gershwin. The Photographers Gallery, 16 - 18 Ramillies Street, London W1, until 18th January.

Continuing

A Victorian Obsession brings together paintings from an exceptional collection and a unique setting. Over some years, Mexican businessman Perez Simon has been one of the world's most prominent collectors of British 19th century art, and for the first time in Britain a selection of works from his collection is on show to the public. Located on the edge of Holland Park in Kensington, Leighton House was the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton. Built to designs by George Aitchison, it was extended and embellished over a period of 30 years to create a private palace of art. Rather than being displayed as in a gallery, the 50 paintings (some of which originally belonged to Leighton) are hung throughout the historic interiors of the house, fulfilling its original intention. Included are four pictures by Leighton himself, including 'Crenaia, the nymph of the Dargle', returning to the house in which they were painted. Lawrence Alma-Tadema's 'The Roses of Heliogabalus', one of the iconic images of Victorian art, is exhibited in London for the first time since 1913. Also on display are outstanding pictures by Albert Moore, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, John Everett Millais, John William Waterhouse, Edward Poynter, Frederick Goodall, John Strudwick and John William Godward amongst others. These artists knew Leighton and were entertained at his house. The combination of the house and the paintings makes this a one-off aesthetic experience for anyone interested in the art of the 19th century. Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road, London W12, until 14th February.

Reality: Modern And Contemporary British Painting celebrates the strength of British painting with some of the best and most influential artists of the last 60 years. The exhibition brings together over 50 works from major 20th century artists including Walter Sickert, Francis Bacon, Stanley Spencer, Lucian Freud, L S Lowry, David Hockney and Paula Rego, alongside young contemporary painters including Ken Currie, George Shaw, Caroline Walker, Sam Jackson, Ken Currie and Anthony Green. Uncompromising and direct, the work of each artist represented retains a strong reference to the real world, 'the stuff of life'. They tackle a diverse range of subjects, referencing the body, relationships, history, politics, war, the urban environment and social issues, but the works are all united by two things - the harsh realities that have concerned key British artists over the decades and the simple act of painting. Highlights include Walter Sickert's 'Ennui', capturing the banality of everyday life at the beginning of the 20th century, complemented by David Hockney's 'My Parents', painted over 60 years later; George Shaw's depictions of his home town, Coventry, revealing the mystery of the mundane, the absence of human life and the unfamiliarity of the familiar, alongside David Hepher's expansive urban landscapes capturing the lives of the inhabitants who he has chosen to omit from the canvas; and Caroline Walker's voyeuristic paintings in which women seem unaware that they are being observed, either half-clothed or naked, while the figures in Chris Steven's works challenge preconceptions about people, exploring identity, class, race, gender and the environment. Sainsbury Gallery, Norwich, until 1st March.

The Institute Of Sexology is a candid exploration of the most publicly discussed of private acts, and those who have investigated human sexuality. It is the first major display since the £17.5m transformation of the venue by architects Wilkinson Eyre, bringing new areas into public use and linking layers of activity with a dramatic new spiral staircase and interconnected galleries. Featuring over 200 objects spanning art, rare archival material, erotica, film and photography, medical artefacts and ethnography, this is the first British exhibition to bring together the pioneers of the study of sex. From Alfred Kinsey's complex questionnaires to the contemporary National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), the exhibition investigates how the practice of sex research has shaped our ever-evolving attitudes towards sexual behaviour and identity. Moving between pathologies of perversion and contested ideas of normality, it shows how sex has been observed, analysed and questioned from the late 19th century to the present day. The show tells the complex and often contradictory story of the study of sex through its pioneers, including Magnus Hirschfeld, Sigmund Freud, Marie Stopes, Alfred Kinsey, Margaret Mead, William Masters and Virginia Johnson, and the team behind Natsal. It traces the experiments and studies that lifted taboos in the pursuit of truths about sex and tells the remarkable personal stories of those whose questions made it a legitimate field for discussion and study. The display also features contemporary artworks exploring sexual identity by artists Zanele Muholi, John Stezaker, Sharon Hayes and Timothy Archibald. Wellcome Collection, 183 London Road, London NW1, until 20th September.

Germany: Memories Of A Nation focuses on the shaping of the nation's identity through objects that form part of a narrative stretching back over the past 600 years. Germany's history is one of the most complex and important in Europe and has had a profound effect on its past, present and future. The exhibition reflects on a number of key themes: floating frontiers; empire and nation; arts and achievement; crisis and memory. From the most famous and iconic portrait of any German in history, the huge 'Goethe in der Campagna' by Tischbein, to an early edition of Grimm's Fairy tales, to a home–made banner from the demonstrations of late 1989 cut in the shape of a united Germany and carrying the inscription "Wir sind ein Volk (we are one people)", the 200 objects on show here tell diverse and fascinating stories embodying the memories shared by all Germans. Events and people touched upon include the production of the Gutenberg Bible in the early 1450s, marking the creation of modern Europe; Germany's contribution to printmaking and in particular the genius of Albrecht Durer, the first great artist in a mass-produced medium; the rediscovery of porcelain technique by the Meissen factory; the revolutionary design work of Walter Gropius's Bauhaus school; banknotes issued during the period of hyperinflation to financial crisis in the 1920s; a replica gate from the Buchenwald concentration camp, with its inscription in elegant Bauhaus lettering stating 'to each his own'; and Ernst Barlach's 'Der Schwebende', a mourning figure in bronze designed for Gustrow Cathedral as a memorial to those who died in the First World War, which has become a distillation of Germany's 20th century history and a symbol of the strength of reconciliation. British Museum until 25th January.

High Spirits: The Comic Art Of Thomas Rowlandson examines life at the turn of the 19th century through the work of one of the leading caricaturists of Georgian England. The absurdities of fashion, the perils of love, political machinations and royal intrigue were the daily subject matter of Thomas Rowlandson. Satirical prints, the precursor of the newspaper cartoon, were a key part of life in Georgian England, and Rowlandson was working at a time when English satirical prints were prized by collectors across Europe. A number of the works in the exhibition were purchased by George, Prince of Wales, later Prince Regent and King George IV. Ironically the Prince was often the butt of caricaturists' jokes and sometimes tried to prevent the publication of images that he felt were particularly offensive. The exhibition features over 90 of Rowlandson's drawings and prints, offering a new perspective on an era perhaps best known through the novels of Jane Austen. Collected by fashionable society, they were also enjoyed by the crowds that gathered in front of the latest productions in print shop windows to gossip about and laugh at the scandals of the day. Favourite themes were drunken gatherings, runaway coaches, rowdy theatregoers, impoverished artists and 'loose' women. Caricatures were passed around at dinner parties and in coffee houses, pasted into albums and used to decorate walls in homes and coffee houses. They were even applied to decorative screens, which could easily be folded away so not to offend female guests with the often bawdy imagery, and an example, decorated with hundreds of figures and scenes painstakingly cut from Rowlandson's satirical prints, is on display. The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath, until 8th February.

Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude focuses on some of the most unflinching depictions of the naked human figure created in modern times, which reinvented the subject for the 20th century. The collection of 38 drawings and watercolours, showing Egon Schiele's mastery of colour and line, span his short but urgent career. The display highlights Schiele's technical virtuosity, highly original vision and uncompromising depiction of the naked figure, including a number of his self-portraits, demonstrating how his approach was closely tied to his introspective examination of his physical and psychological make-up. The show explores how Schiele's provocative nudes pushed artistic conventions through a direct expression of human experience, fears and desires. The works are bound up with themes of self-expression, procreation, sexuality and eroticism. Rather than just depict conventional artists' models in familiar poses, he took as his subjects an unusual variety of people including himself, his sister, male friends, his lovers and wife, female prostitutes, pregnant women and babies observed in a medical clinic, and a number of young female models. Schiele's subjects often act out a striking body language, assuming expressive or painfully twisted poses, frequently explicit in their nudity. Many of these works affronted contemporary standards of morality and were considered pornographic by some. Today, these works are celebrated for challenging outmoded conventions of the nude in high art of the period and for investing the genre with a new and distinctly modern relevance. The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London, until 18th January.

Concluding

Sense And Sensuality: Art Nouveau 1890 - 1914 explores the drama and spectacle of contemporary life at the turn of the 20th century. The show embraces the at times risque sensuality of Art Nouveau, featuring a wide range of works from sculpture, graphics and books, to ceramics, glass and furniture. Early examples include Felix Vallotton's original poster 'L'Art Nouveau', the first public presentation of the name; and Aubrey Vincent Beardsley's 'Salome' prints, which many believe to be the first true works in the style. Masterpieces by Alphonse Mucha, Maurice Bouval, Theophile Alexandre Steinlen, Francois- Raoul Larche, Paul Francois Berthoud, Jean-Joseph Carries and others, make this an exceptional display of fin de siecle art and design. The period 1890 to 1914, which saw the rise and fall of Art Nouveau, has often been depicted as an age that represented the end of many things, but it was also an age of beginnings. It was a turbulent time: millions of people migrated to rapidly growing cities, becoming urban dwellers in a modernised environment. This exhibition explores this intense emotional maelstrom, focusing on personal and sexual liberation, women and the rise of feminism, youth revolution, the questioning of organised religion, eroticism and an exploration of mythology, novel art forms, psychology and dreams, narcotics and the concept of mass manufactured art. Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts, Norwich, until 14th December.

Jasper Johns: Regrets is a series of new works by the internationally renowned American artist, inspired by a chance encounter with a 1964 photograph of Lucian Freud posing in Francis Bacon's London studio. The drawings and paintings convey Jasper Johns's creative process and his ability to transform and recast an image in numerous different ways. The photograph, taken by John Deakin, shows Freud seated on a brass bedstead, his hands covering his face in an ambiguous gesture of introspection. It was commissioned and used by Francis Bacon as the source material for one of his own paintings, eventually becoming the basis of 'Study for Self-Portrait'. Johns incorporates not only the subject of the photograph itself, but the physically distressed qualities of the original print, which Bacon had torn, creased and smudged in the course of his work. The missing sections, tears and folds of the original play a prominent role in Johns' composition throughout the series. Johns explored and transformed the image in numerous experiments in oil, watercolour, pencil and ink. In the process he mirrored and doubled the original image, and in doing so, the form of a skull emerged unexpectedly in the centre of his new composition. This 'apparition' creates a reminder of death or memento mori at the heart of the works. Two large paintings and a group of works in ink on plastic are particular highlights of the series and are testament to Johns' profound engagement with his subject, conveying themes of creativity, memory, reflection and mortality. Most of the works are signed and titled 'Regrets - Jasper Johns', seemingly a reference to their profound and contemplative mood, but this signature and title actually derives from a rubber stamp Johns had made some years previously to swiftly decline the stream of requests and invitations that he regularly receives. Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London, until 14th December.

Anselm Kiefer is the first major British retrospective of the work of one of the most important German artists of the latter part of the 20th century. The exhibition presents the epic scale of Anselm Kiefer's artwork and the breadth of media he has used throughout his 40 year career, including painting, sculpture, photography and installation. Kiefer has created a number of pieces specifically for this exhibition, showcasing his continued interest in seeking new challenges and producing ever more ambitious works. Kiefer's fascination with history and the work of past masters permeates his subject matter. From mythology to the Old and New testaments, Kabbalah, alchemy, philosophy and the poetry of Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann, Kiefer's work wrestles with the darkness of German history and considers the complex relationship between art and spirituality. His technical use of materials such as clay, ash, earth, lead, fabric and dried flowers amongst others, adds further symbolism and depth to his work. Highlights include photographs and paintings from the controversial 'Occupations' and 'Heroic Symbols' series recording Kiefer's re-enactment of the Nazi salute in locations across Europe, made in the belief that one must confront rather than supress the experiences of history; paintings from his 'Attic' series including 'Father, Son and the Holy Ghost' and 'Notung', depicting renderings of wooden interior spaces based on the studio space he was occupying in Walldurn-Hornbach; and monumental architectural paintings, such as 'To the Unknown Painter', reflecting on the neo-classicist buildings of Hitler's architect Albert Speer. The exhibition considers the key themes and the diverse, personal iconography that Kiefer has created in his work and the influence of place on his pieces. Royal Academy until 14th December.