News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th July 2012


Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 featuring beautiful ballgowns, red carpet evening gowns and catwalk showstoppers is the first exhibition in the newly renovated Fashion Galleries. There is a strong British design tradition of creating sumptuous ballgowns, which has been upheld even in the late 20th and 21st centuries. In the post-war period, as Europe struggled toward recovery, extravagant, exclusive balls provided glittering backdrops for splendid couture gowns, so helping to stimulate sartorial consumption and aspiration in Britain. The emergence of the charity ball in the 1980s provided a new platform for a wider society to dress to impress. Couture influenced the high street and dressing up for events was no longer the prerogative of the wealthy. More recently it is the red carpet that acts as the most important site of fashionable splendour. The exhibition features over 60 gowns specially made for social events such as private parties, royal state occasions, debutante balls, opening nights and red carpet events. Tour de force eveningwear by designers such as Hardy Amies, Ossie Clark, Bill Gibb, Bruce Oldfield, Victor Stiebel, Zandra Rhodes, Jonathan Saunders and Hussein Chalayan are on show, as well as dresses from the catwalk shows of Alexander McQueen, Giles, Erdem, Roksanda Illincic, Mark Fast and Jenny Packham. Royal gowns, with their luxurious fabrics and exquisite embellishments, such as a Norman Hartnell gown designed for Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and Princess Diana's 'Elvis Dress' designed by Catherine Walker, as well as gowns worn by today's young royals, are seen alongside dresses worn by actresses and celebrities, including Sandra Bullock, Daphne Guinness, Elizabeth Hurley and Bianca Jagger. The display includes film and contextual images, as well as accessories such as elegant evening bags, gloves and shoes. Victoria & Albert Museum until 6th January.

Presence: The Art Of Portrait Sculpture brings together striking sculpted portraits from the ancient world to the modern day to explore their often troubling power. The exhibition considers the ways in which sculptors have exploited this potency to make the absent present or the dead seem alive, from the mummy masks of ancient Egypt to the extraordinary death mask of the painter Thomas Lawrence, cast with the sheet and pillow of his death bed. The display embraces heads from Ancient Greece and Rome, 18th century masterpieces, such as Joseph Wilton's bust of the Earl of Chesterfield, works by some of the 20th century's greatest sculptors, including Degas, Giacometti and Brancusi, the waxwork of Henry Moore once at Madame Tussauds, and sculptures by major contemporary artists such as Don Brown, Daphne Wright and Marc Quinn. It explores questions of scale and colour through miniature portraits in wax and ivory and Ron Mueck's monumental Self Portrait Mask II. Above all, it explores the sense of presence behind the portrait sculpture which gives it its power to arrest and disturb. Perhaps the most moving of all the works in the show is the ceramic portrait of the small dead girl, Lydia Dwight, cast by her father in the white glazed stoneware technique that he had invented. Striking pairings include Brancusi's abstracted and eyeless Danaide alongside a late Giacometti bust of his brother Diego, in which his staring head seems to exemplify Giacometti's concentration on the sitter's gaze. At the heart of these pairings are two exceptional antique heads, a rare Greek bronze head, probably of a charioteer, from about 300BC, and the head of a North African carved in green siltstone in the 1st century BC. Holburne Museum, Bath, until 2nd September.

Titian's First Masterpiece features the first major commission of the 16th century Venetian painter, and examines the creation of this extraordinarily ambitious work, painted when he was just a teenager. This is the first time 'The Flight Into Egypt' has been seen outside Russia since 1768 when Empress Catherine the Great purchased the picture. The exhibition explores Titian's originality in creating one of the first large scale landscape narratives, and demonstrates how he adapted ideas from the work of other artists in order to create his sophisticated composition. The painting is exhibited alongside more than 20 works by Titian's Venetian contemporaries, including Bellini, Giorgione, and Sebastiano del Piombo, together with artists such as Albrecht Durer, who were in Venice at the time Titian began this work. 'The Flight into Egypt' is believed to be one of Titian's earliest paintings. Produced on an impressive sized canvas (206 x 336 cm), the landscape occupies most of the composition, drawing the viewer's eye to the green of the foliage, and the blues of the sky, mountains and stream. This unprecedented sensitivity to colour is a characteristic of Titian. He spontaneously displayed a naive approach to nature, especially in the depiction of animals. The choice of this particular subject allowed the young painter to display his precocious skill in landscape painting and reveals the bold brushwork and exhilarating use of colour that would become signatures of his artistic style. National Gallery until 19th August.


Codebreaker - Alan Turing's Life And Legacy celebrates the life and work of the pioneering British computer scientist. The exhibition examines the achievements of Alan Turing, whose influence on computer science is still felt today, and whose wartime codebreaking helped to take years off the length of the Second World War. It explores Turing's work on artificial intelligence and his morphogenesis work. The display comprises the most extensive collection of Turing artefacts ever assembled under one roof, including machines he devised and devices that influenced him and his colleagues, offering an indisputable argument for Turing's enduring global legacy. At the heart of the exhibition is the Pilot ACE computer, which embodies Turing's ideas for a universal programmable computer. It was the fastest computer in the world at the time and is a forerunner of today's machines. Featured alongside is a simulator of the Pilot ACE, made in 1950 to present the computer's capabilities to the public. Another key exhibit is a piece of Comet jet fuselage wreckage analysed with the aid of Pilot ACE in 1954 following a series of crashes, which eventually helped to reveal the source of the problem, leading to changes in aeroplane design. Other highlights include German military Enigma machines; remaining parts of the huge, revolutionary electromechanical 'bombe' machines devised by Turing during the Second World War to crack codes; and a working aid used to break Enigma, which has never been displayed outside of GCHQ. Science Museum until June 2013.

Turner Monet Twombly: Later Paintings brings together works by 3 artists considered radical in their time, who met with criticism for pushing the boundaries of the conventions of painting. The exhibition examines not only the art historical links and affinities between JMW Turner, Claude Monet and Cy Twombly, but suggests common characteristics and motivations underlying the style in their later works. Between them these artists form a 3 generational strand that runs through nearly 250 years of western art. The exhibition explores their fascination with light, landscape, mythology, mortality, romanticism and the sublime - which they shared despite living in different eras - in addition to the rich painterly qualities of their work. While their respective approaches are strikingly different, all 3 artists dealt with the eternal human preoccupations of time and loss, memory and desire. Comprising over 60 works, the exhibition treats each artist in considerable depth, with rooms juxtaposing the paintings of 2, or all 3. It allows Turner and Monet to be seen within a contemporary context, while demonstrating the strong lure of classicism in the painting and sculpture of Twombly. Although the interest Monet held in the work of Turner is well documented, the passion that Twombly has for both these artists has never been fully examined before. Among the highlights are Turner's 'The Parting of Hero and Leander' seen for the first time alongside 2 works by Twombly of the same title; Turner and Monet paintings of Waterloo Bridge side by side; and 5 of Monet's greatest water lily paintings, including 'The Water-Lily Pond' and 'Water Lilies', which have never been seen in Britain before. Tate Liverpool until 28th October.

The Phoenicians: The Greatest Ancient Sailors offers both an opportunity to experience life on board an authentic replica Phoenician ship from 600BC and learn more about the mysterious Phoenicians. The 20m long Phoenicia was designed in collaboration with leading marine archaeologists and was built in 2008 in Arwad Island, an ancient Phoenician city state just off the Syrian coast, by shipwright Khalid Hammoud and colleagues using traditional construction methods and materials. The aim was to replicate an ancient Phoenician trading vessel that successfully achieved the first circumnavigation of Africa in 600BC, and the reconstructed ship completed the same 20,000 mile voyage in 2010. It now houses an exhibition that includes information and exhibits from the 2008-2010 expedition, and historic artefacts from the ancient Mediterranean civilisation, including gold and silver Phoenician coins, alongside interactive exhibits and media clips. St Katharine Docks, 50 St Katherine's Way E1, until 30th September.

Invisible: Art About The Unseen 1957 - 2012 is the first British exhibition of artworks that explore ideas related to the invisible, the hidden and the unknown. From an invisible labyrinth and canvases primed with invisible ink, animals' mental energy and snow water, to an empty plinth that presents space cursed by a witch and a 'haunted' black tunnel, the exhibition features works by some of the most important artists from the past half century including Andy Warhol, Yves Klein, Robert Barry, Chris Burden, Yoko Ono, Tom Friedman, Bethan Huws, Bruno Jakob, Claes Oldenburg, Maurizio Cattelan and Carsten Holler. The artworks in the exhibition challenge assumptions about what art is, directing attention away from the cultural bias that works of art are inherently visual. Instead it emphasises the ideas behind artworks, the role of the viewer's imagination in responding to art, the process of creating art, and the importance of context and labelling in shaping our understanding of what we see. Among the pieces are: Jeppe Heine's 'Invisible Labyrinth', a maze that only materialises as visitors move around it, equipped with digital headphones operated by infrared rays that cause them to vibrate every time they bump into one of the maze's virtual walls; Teresa Margolles's 'Aire / Air', an installation consisting of two cooling systems that create a superfine mist by drawing on a container filled with 20 litres of water that was previously used to wash the bodies of murder victims in Mexico City prior to autopsy; and Robert Barry's 'Energy Field', a battery-powered transmitter encased in a nondescript wooden box sending out waves of energy, filling the gallery space with an invisible, immeasurable, but nonetheless real force. The exhibition also includes a room dedicated to the tradition of invisible public monuments. Hayward Gallery until 5th August.

The Search For Immortality: Tomb Treasures Of Han China takes visitors into the 2000 year old tombs of Han Dynasty China, revealing an epic story of lust for power both in life and death. The Han Dynasty were the founders of unified rule in China as we know it today, but to maintain their empire, the emperors had to engage in constant struggles for power. The exhibition compares the spectacular tombs of two rival power factions: the Han imperial family in the northern 'cradle' of Chinese history, and the Kingdom of Nanyue in the south. Protected by clay guardians and filled with jade and gold, the tombs were palaces fit for immortals. Each tomb was a symbol of power and majesty, designed so its owner could 'live' again in eternity in the same luxury they enjoyed in life. Over 350 treasures in jade, gold, silver, bronze and ceramics reveal the secrets of the royal obsession with obtaining immortality. Among the highlights are: two burial armour suits belonging to the rival rulers, made from thousands of plaques of jade, sewn together with gold or silk thread; jade artefacts thought to ward off demons, such as a dagger to serve the emperor in the afterlife, and a cup to catch the morning dew that ensured immortality; spectacular objects in gold, including imperial seals and exotic belt buckles; pottery soldiers and bronze weapons; pottery dancers, musicians and servants; and unusual artefacts including a toilet and an early ginger grater. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 11th November.

Heatherwick Studio: Designing The Extraordinary is the first major exhibition exploring the work of one of the most inventive and experimental design studios practising in Britain today. It showcases the wide variety of projects conceived by British designer Thomas Heatherwick and his studio. On display are over 150 objects, from an original seed-tipped rod from the UK Pavilion Seed Cathedral at Shanghai World Expo, to a full scale mock-up of the rear end of the new London double-decker bus. The exhibition examines two decades of projects, from Thomas Heatherwick's exploratory student work, through the architectural commissions which have earned the studio their international reputation, to their current projects. The collection of contextual photographs, maquettes, prototypes, material fragments and models on display offers an insight into the studio's design processes, and their curiosity for materials, engineering and fabrication. The objects are structured in a series of conceptual clusters illustrating the interrelation of ideas throughout the studio's work, whilst giving a sense of walking through the Heatherwick workshop and archive. Each of the themed clusters is accompanied by film footage and audio clips of Heatherwick discussing the back stories of the projects on show. The exhibition is designed by the Heatherwick Studio and spans the disciplines of architecture, engineering, transport and urban planning to furniture, sculpture and product design. Larger-scale architectural achievements such as the East Beach Cafe, Littlehampton, the design for Longchamp fashion store in New York, and the Teesside biomass-fuelled power station, are shown alongside smaller projects like the glass Bleigiessen installation for the Wellcome Trust and the pedestrian Rolling Bridge in Paddington Basin. Victoria & Albert Museum until 30th September.


H M Bateman - The Man Who Went Mad On Paper features the first modern master of 20th century British cartooning. The dramatic and expressive drawings of H M Bateman often sizzle with intensity as he had the ability to 'draw funnily'. Best remembered as the creator of 'The Man Who . . .' drawings of social faux pas, and a master of the story without words, Bateman was also an acute observer of British society from the Edwardian era through to the 1930s. When the 15 year old Bateman began his career, most cartoons were illustrated jokes, with a lengthy caption providing the comic accompaniment to a rather straight drawing, but he had a flash of inspiration, and in his own words 'went mad on paper'. Bateman's innovative approach was to draw out the humour of the situation through his dynamic and dramatic drawings. He drew people as they felt, rather than as they appeared: eyes pop, mouths gape, limbs twist and squirm. During the 1920s and 1930s, decades of huge social change in Britain, his 'Man Who . . .' cartoons showed the terrible consequences of 'doing the wrong thing' and making a social blunder. The exhibition comprises over 120 original cartoons, including Bateman's witty observations of suburban, sporting, working and theatrical 'types'. Among the highlights are the landmark sequence 'The Boy Who Breathed on the Glass in the British Museum' created during the First World War; and his tour de force 'The One-Note Man', which inspired a scene in Alfred Hitchcock's 1934 film The Man Who Knew Too Much. The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1, until 22nd July.

Taking Time: Chardin's Boy Building A House Of Cards And Other Paintings is a concise and concentrated selection of genre scenes and servant paintings by the 18th century French master of the still life, seen together for the first time. Rejecting the florid excesses and mythological subjects which typified the art of his time, Jean-Simeon Chardin instead captured moments of quiet concentration and absorption in simple, everyday activities. His works have a static, reflective quality which gained him the nickname 'the painter of silence'. This exhibition brings together 11 paintings and the same number of works on paper. At the core of the works on show are 4 paintings of young bourgeois boys playing with packs of cards. This was a favourite subject of Chardin's, and one that he returned to time and time again, perpetually finding new variations on the same theme. The works demonstrate the shifting meanings that arise when individual paintings are paired with different companions. Accompanying these are other images of servants engaged in their work, which distill the modesty and dignity of the people they depict. All the works in the exhibition were painted within a few years of each other, between around 1735 and 1738, during a brief period when Chardin interrupted his still life painting to explore the possibilities of figure subjects. Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, until 15th July.

Picasso And Modern British Art is the first exhibition to examine the Spanish artist's evolving critical reputation in Britain, and British artists' responses to his work. The exhibition explores Pablo Picasso's rise in Britain as a figure of both controversy and celebrity, tracing the ways in which his work was exhibited and collected here during his lifetime. It also demonstrates that the British engagement with Picasso and his art was much deeper and more varied than generally has been appreciated. Pablo Picasso originated many of the most significant developments of 20th century art, and the exhibition looks at his impact on British modernism through seven figures for whom he proved an important stimulus: Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney. It is presented in a chronological order, documenting the exhibiting and collecting of Picasso's art in Britain, alternating with individual British artists' responses to his work. The show comprises over 150 works, with over 60 paintings by Picasso, including key Cubist works such as 'Head of a Man with Moustache', 'Man with a Clarinet' and 'Weeping Woman'. Among the works by British artists is Francis Bacon's 'Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion', alongside Picasso's paintings based on figures on the beach at Dinard, which first inspired Bacon to take up painting seriously. Tate Britain until 15th July.