News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th June 2008


Psycho Buildings: Artists Take On Architecture marks the 40th anniversary of the gallery, whose brutalist architectural style is loved and loathed in equal measure, by inviting 10 international artists to respond to its spaces. They have created habitat-like structures and architectural environments, both indoors and out, which offer visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves atmospheric and unsettling surroundings. The art gallery and the funfair have converged in installations that include a room frozen in a moment of explosive disaster; an eerie village of over 200 dollhouses (which really needs "it's a small world after all" playing in the background); a labyrinth viewed by climbing ladders to observation platforms; a giant transparent trampoline under a plastic geodesic dome that can either be bounced on or viewed from below; a 5:1 scale model of a Korean house crashing into a three storey American home; and a skyline pond with boats made from junk shop furniture. The artists are Atelier Bow-Wow (Japan), Michael Beutler (Germany), Los Carpinteros (Cuba), Gelitin (Austria), Mike Nelson (UK), Ernesto Neto (Brazil), Tobias Putrih (Slovenia), Tomas Saraceno (Argentina), Do-Ho Suh (Korea), Rachel Whiteread (UK). The exhibition also includes screening of architecturally inspired films, including Chris Burden's Beam Drop, Andrea Fraser's Little Frank and his Carp, Gordon Matta Clark's Conical Intersect and Jane Crawford and Robert Fiore's Sheds. Hayward Gallery until 25th August.

Gustav Klimt: Painting, Design And Modern Life In Vienna 1900 recreates the sophisticated world of Klimt and his patrons, as the juncture between art, architecture and design, at the epicentre of a cultural awakening in the city. The exhibition explores the relationship between Klimt as a leader and founder of the Viennese Secession, a progressive group of artists and artisans driven by a desire for innovation and renewal, embracing not only art but architecture, fashion and the decorative objects, and the furniture products and philosophy of the Wiener Werkstatte, demanding the emancipation of fine and applied art in stunning environments. At the time, Klimt's images of almost morbidly swooning sexuality led him to be accused of decadent indulgence in pornography. The exhibition features not only major paintings, drawings and graphics by Klimt, but also a wealth of furniture, silver objects, jewellery, fashion, graphic design and documentary material. The centrepiece is a full scale reconstruction of 'The Beethoven Frieze', Klimt's spectacular monumental installation celebrating the unification of all arts - painting, sculpture, architecture and music - created using the same techniques as applied by Klimt. Over 60 major paintings and drawings from all stages of Klimt's career are shown in settings that recreate the work of Josef Hoffmann, architect and designer, who created extravagant interiors for many of Klimt's most important patrons and collectors to display their commissions. Tate Liverpool until 31st August.

New Jewellery Gallery designed by Eva Jiricna, a £7m project incorporating a glass spiral staircae and a new mezanine floor, displays some 3,500 spectacular examples of European jewellery dating from the last 800 years, some on public view for the first time. The pieces range from jewels that reflect splendour of life in a royal court, through designs from the great jewellery houses of the 20th century, to work by contemporary makers. Historic highlights include jewelled pendants given by Queen Elizabeth I to her courtiers; diamonds worn by Catherine the Great of Russia; the Beauharnais Emeralds, a gift of Napoleon to his adopted daughter, together with tiaras and ornaments worn by the Empress Josephine; a Thistles corsage ornament and other pieces by art-nouveau designer Rene Lalique; a Faberge enamelled snuff box with the diamond monogram of Tsar Nicholas II; two diamond tiaras by Cartier; Philippe Wolfers's gold, enamel, diamond and ruby hair ornament in the form of an orchid; a rare plique-a -jour enamel and pearl bracelet by Boucheron; a gold Chaumet bangle with a core of rubies and diamonds; the 'Helen of Troy' necklace designed by Edward Poynter; and Lady Mountbatten's Cartier 'tutti frutti' ruby, sapphire, emerald and diamond bandeau. Over 140 living goldsmiths and jewellers are represented in the gallery, ranging from ring sets by Wendy Ramshaw to a carved pin in recycled acrylic by Peter Chang, and a papier-mache neckpiece by Marjorie Schick - a suitably contrasting reflection of the 'flash and trash' society of the 21st century. Victoria & Albert Museum, continuing.


Street & Studio: An Urban History Of Photography presents a history of photographic portraiture taken in cities around the world, in two contrasting locations: the street and the studio. It comprises over 350 works by 19th and 20th century photographers, including such diverse figures as Diane Arbus, Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Helen Levitt, Robert Mapplethorpe, Irving Penn, Cindy Sherman, Malick Sidibe, Paul Strand, Wolfgang Tillmans and Weegee. Street photography was founded with the development of small and easily concealed cameras, offering the opportunity to catch subjects in informal, impromptu and even intimate moments. Highlights of this practice include Jacques-Henri Lartigue's snap shots of the French bourgeoisie in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris and Arnold Genthe's documentary photography of Chinatown in San Francisco. Studio portrait photography was developed to create more formal portraits, offering the photographer opportunities for complex technical manoeuvres, and allowing the sitter to compose and present themselves to the world with associated props and backdrops, as seen in Samuel Fosso's self portraits and Baron de Meyer's fashion photography of famous artists. The exhibition explores the ways in which the two strands intertwine. The highly composed scenes by Robert Doisneau and the fashion photography in the 1950s by Norman Parkinson and William Klein demonstrate how the street became a site of staging, while Andres Serrano's portraits of the homeless and Helmar Lerski's series 'Head of Everyday' show how studio photography began to record people from the street. Tate Modern until 31st August.

Chinese Whispers: Chinoiserie in Britain 1650 - 1930 looks at the changing styles in the fashion for orientalism in the decorative arts - ornamentation based on a Western fantasy of China as a place of dreams and dragons, the mythical land of Cathy. The exhibition brings together some of the earliest Chinese objects imported to Britain, with examples of British made chinoiserie furniture, ceramics, silver and textiles, as well as rarely seen prints and drawings. In a chinoiserie interior in the 18th and 19th centuries surfaces were adorned with fantastic mountainous landscapes, pagodas, fabulous birds, mandarins, dragons and phoenixes. This exhibition provides a context for the Royal Pavilion, which houses some of the exhibits, its extravagant interiors and imaginative furnishings representing the pre-eminent example of a late flowering of chinoiserie. The style was particularly suited to light, feminine spaces, and women's bedrooms, dressing rooms and drawing rooms in stately homes were frequently hung with hand painted Chinese wallpaper, and furnished with lacquered surfaces that complemented the mysterious translucence of chinoiserie porcelain. Taking tea became a fundamental part of polite society, and stimulated the growth of the ceramics industry. Potters endeavoured to discover the secret ingredients for making Chinese porcelain, and developed their own forms for teapots, bowls and cups, decorated with imaginative chinoiserie motifs, whilst silversmiths created exquisite pieces such as caddies, pots and epergnes, also decorated in the Chinese style. Brighton Museum & Royal Pavilion until 2nd November.

The Treetop Walkway & The Rhizotron are two new features that offer visitors the opportunity to get closer to trees. The 18 metre high Walkway, designed by Marks Barfield Architects, creators of the London Eye, is based on a Fibonacci numerical sequence, often found in nature's growth patterns. The tree like metal pylons, which weather to look like wood, each support viewing platforms, linked by the 200 metre Walkway through the canopy of ancient sweet chestnuts, limes and oaks. They offer a unique close up view of the trees - and the birds and other wildlife that live in them - together with a completely different perspective on the surrounding 300 acres of gardens, as well as the London skyline beyond. Meanwhile, the Rhizotron provides an opportunity to delve into the underground world of trees. Entered through an apparent crack in the ground, it reveals the natural world beneath the trees, explaining the relationships between tree roots and the micro-organisms in the soil. Accompanying these new features are a variety of tree themed displays, including a woodland glade with bluebells and cowslips, focusing on the flora and fauna found in and on the woodland floor, with the homes of foxes and badgers, and wasp and wood ant nests, in the Princess of Wales Conservatory; and a display of miniature bonsai trees with conifers, maples, a Japanese white pine, a rhododendron, a beech and an oak tree (offering a similar view as the Walkway for those afraid of heights) in the Bonsai House. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew continuing.

Jack The Ripper And The East End examines the infamous Whitechapel murders of 1888, and explores their legacy of myths and legends. Bringing together in public for the first time the surviving original documents from the police investigation, including files, witness reports, photographs and hoax letters, the exhibition maps the world which witnessed the murders and was transformed by them. It follows the crimes and the investigation as they unfolded, and reveals the lives of the victims, witnesses, suspects and police, and the labyrinthine world they inhabited. Artefacts, including Charles Booth's meticulously drawn poverty maps, and oral history recordings from those who grew up in the East End at the time of the murders, throw a light on the slums of Whitechapel and on the grim lives of their inhabitants. The exhibition also explores how the murders were a catalyst for change, creating public revulsion at the desperate state of life in the shadows of the world's richest city, and how both the media and the police were forced into innovation. It illustrates the strategies of detection, and the processes of running and reporting a major police enquiry, reflecting the fierce competition between newspapers to produce the most sensational descriptions of the murders, and lay claim to the latest theories and suspects. Forensic science was not yet available to help identify the murderer, and a range of pseudo-sciences, philosophies and superstitions, including spiritualism, as well as accepted ideas of human nature and morality, shaped the police investigation. Museum In Docklands, West India Quay E14, until 2nd November.

The Shell Guides: Surrealism, Modernism, Tourism explores the creative forces that created the Shell County Guides, and considers their cultural influence on a shared understanding of Britain and Britishness. From the 1930s to the 1980s, innovative writers, artists, designers and academics combined their efforts to produce these landmark guides, a powerful but understated synthesis of good writing, good imagery and good design. Their editor, John Betjeman, gathered together a mixture of young artists and authors like Paul and John Nash, Robert Byron and John Piper, who represented some of the best of British creative talent of the period. This exhibition includes many of the original Guides, plus examples of other works by key contributors. The Guides, neither too serious nor too shallow, were aimed at a new breed of car driving metropolitan tourists, who took pleasure in the ordinary and peculiar culture of small town Britain. They provided a surreptitiously subversive synthesis of the British countryside, revelling in the unconventional, the surreal and the mystical, which became ingrained in the British middle class imagination. The guides were illustrated using the most modern and often surrealist photographs, small intimate sketches by the authors, and reproductions of English romantic and popular prints. This incongruous mix of old and new was combined with a graphic layout that blended the contemporary style of the Architectural Review with arcane 19th century typefaces. By the end of the 1930s the Shell Guides were among the most avant-garde publications in Europe - though devoted to a subject that was almost the cultural opposite. Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, Middlesex University, Cat Hill, Barnet, Hertfordshire, until 2nd November.

Dan Dare And The Birth Of Hi-Tech Britain examines the heady excitement of the reinvention of Britain after the Second World War, showing how the years from 1945 to 1970 saw a long climb from austerity to affluence. Dan Dare, pilot of the future, as featured in the Eagle comic, was the emblematic hero of those times, embodying a faith in the nation's ability to 'conquer the future' through its resourcefulness and powers of invention. A popular feature in the comic was a detailed cutaway drawing explaining how new inventions like nuclear submarines were constructed, and original artworks of these are featured in the exhibition. Sadly, the pride and faith in the future of British design and manufacturing of that time was as misplaced as the idea of a British astronaut commanding an expedition across the universe. Thus the future as imagined here, seems almost more remote than that imagined by Victorians. Nevertheless the exhibition allows visitors to revel in consumer technology world firsts, from food processors to portable televisions, plus a Bloodhound missile, one pillar of Britain's defence against Soviet threat in the Cold War, together with the British built WE177 nuclear weapon; a Hillman Imp car; a section of Comet 1, the world's first jet airliner; a nuclear reactor control panel for British submarines, with infamous SCRAM button; Pye radios designed by Robin Day; a Roentgen IV X-ray machine, the mainstay of the new NHS diagnostic service; and a Coventry Climax racing engine of type that took Stirling Moss to victory. Science Museum until October.


Frank Auerbach - Etchings And Drypoints 1954 - 2007 is a comprehensive survey of the distinctive British artist's work, from experimental drypoint nudes produced while he was still a student at the Royal College of Art in the 1950s to his latest etching and aquatint of David Landau. The exhibition is a unique opportunity to see Auerbach's complete body of etchings and drypoints, comprising some 30 works, together with other drawings and paintings, including 'JYM in the Studio'. Portraits drawn with spare lines or frenetic jagged lines sit alongside faces that emerge from heavily greyed out heads in this display, some depicting famous names such as Lucian Freud, others titled just with first names, giving them a personal tone. On first acquaintance Auerbach's work can seem obscure, even crude or unreadable, but its power and strength of feeling is striking, arresting and ultimately beautiful. Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, until 21st June.

Brilliant Women: 18th Century Bluestockings explores the impact of the original 'Bluestocking Circle', a group of celebrated women writers, artists and thinkers who forged new links between gender, learning and virtue in Britain in the 1700s. These women were not just intellectually brilliant, they were exceptional, both for their individual accomplishments and for breaking the boundaries of what women could be expected to undertake or achieve. The exhibition combines some 50 works, including famous paintings by Romney, Kauffmann, Ramsay, Vigee-LeBrun and Robert Adam, rediscovered portraits, satirical prints and silhouettes, together with personal artefacts of members of the circle, such as letters, poems and diaries. Most spectacularly, there is an enamel and gold 'friendship box', commissioned to commemorate the intense emotional bonds between four youthful bluestocking friends, whose portraits it features. The display also considers the way a wider range of women, inspired by the model of the bluestockings, created a public profile for themselves. Portraits of the artist Angelica Kauffman, historian Catharine Macaulay and early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, reveal how women used portraiture to advance their work and reputations, in a period that began with the Enlightenment and ended with the onset of the French Revolution. Although the bluestockings made a substantial contribution to the creation and definition of a national culture, their intellectual participation and artistic interventions have largely been forgotten. This exhibition reveals the history and significance of the bluestockings and their culture. National Portrait Gallery until 15th June.

OGS Crawford is a unique opportunity to see images from the archive of Osbert Guy Stanhope Crawford, a field archaeologist who pioneered aerial photography after seeing its potential in the First World War. Crawford was a rare visionary who recognised key events and recorded them, documenting the passage of time from pre-history archaeological digs, to the utopian projects propounded by revolutionaries throughout the turbulent times in which he lived: 1886 to 1957. Distance, in Crawford's view, brought clarity, and he saw world history - and the future - in the broadest possible perspective, perceiving patterns in times past and in things to come. Thus he believed the passage of time, from prehistory to a utopian future, could be charted and photographed, evidenced in the design of objects, in the rise and fall of superstitions, and in the organisation of domestic space. Crawford's photographic output was prolific and varied, reflecting both his professional work and a world view critical of a society increasingly led by consumerism and materialism. The exhibition ranges from images of archaeological sites, through between the wars anti-Nazi graffiti in Berlin, rural Hampshire scenes, and suburban advertising hoardings, to aspirational post Second World War housing developments in his home city of Southampton. John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, until 14th June.