News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th February 2003


Manola Blahnik is the ultimate fusion of art and commerce - the first museum retrospective of the work of the most fashionable shoe designer in the world. Sensationally sexy yet impeccably elegant, his shoes are perfectly proportioned feats of technical virtuosity and craftsmanship. Their exuberance and extravagance, not to mention the vibrancy of their colours, make them more art object than practical footwear - ideal for his core clients of supermodels, Hollywood stars, and the characters in Sex And The City (actually a very small, but incredibly influential group). Working alone without apprentices or assistants, Blahnik designs and makes the prototype for each of his shoes from start to finish, drawing the initial sketches, chiselling the wooden lasts on which they are moulded, sculpting the heels, and personally supervising their production. This exhibition is drawn from Manolo Blahnik's private archive, and traces the thirty year career of this remarkable designer-maker, by deconstructing his design process and reflecting his influences, from the films of Luchino Visconti and Irving Penn's photography, to the portraits of Francisco Zurbaran. Blahnik started designing in the early 1970s for the Zapata boutique in London, which he later took over. Despite the impracticalities of some of his early designs (which couldn't cope with someone actually walking in them) word of mouth soon attracted the attention of the style centred worlds of fashion and show business. His empire has now spread worldwide, and he has created shoes for many couture collections. Design Museum until 11 May.

Simon Periton - New Work gives a contemporary slant to the ancient Chinese craft of intricate paper cutting. Put very simply, Simon Periton makes doilies, cutting them by hand from layers of coloured paper to create complex visual and sculptural effects. Patterns consist of symbols from sources as diverse as occultism, colonialism, Islam, punk, Pop Art and politics, and the prettiness of his work belies the seriousness of the cultural references. Periton has made a new piece in metal foil especially for this exhibition, which hangs over the windows like intricate lace curtains, in a response to the domestic proportions of the room. It sounds simple, but the results are anything but. Henry Moore Institute, Leeds until 16th March.

Terry O'Neill: Celebrity is a retrospective of the work of the master of celebrity photographic portraiture. It comprises over forty images of the most illustrious faces in the world, which are a testament to their sitters fame and the test of time. They are revealing, tantalising, and yet enigmatic, as Terry O'Neill manages to capture that wholly unquantifiable x-factor of celebrity. O'Neill started snapping celebrities as a staff photographer at The Daily Sketch in 1960's. He wanted to capture something of the mood of the time by using his 35mm camera - relatively unusual then for portraiture - to bring the spontaneity of photography as seen in portraits of the Beatles and the Stones. The technique proved to be a success, and he soon went freelance, working for Life, Vogue, Paris Match and Rolling Stone. O'Neill's portraits encapsulate much of the glamour, fashion and fame combination of the 1960s and 1970s. His subjects are at the peak of their professional and physical powers, shot mostly informally, but occasionally in character on location. The images range from Brigitte Bardot - Spain 1971, through Robert Redford - London 1976, Clint Eastwood - Tucson, Arizona 1972, and Faye Dunaway - Beverly Hills 1976 to Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau - London 1976. Hackelbury Fine Art, 4 Launceston Place, London W8, 020 7937 8688, until 5th March.


Giorgio de Chirico And The Myth Of Ariadne charts a man's obsession with a subject, which he first painted in 1912, and was still pursuing over 100 paintings later in 1970. According to legend, Ariadne was abandoned by her lover Theseus on the desert island of Naxos, after he had slain the Minotaur and escaped from the labyrinth with the aid of her thread. Chirico's melancholic, enigmatic paintings have dream-like imagery of a reclining statue of Ariadne, in an empty, sun-drenched piazza, filled with mysterious shadows and stopped clocks, repeated with subtle variations in shadow, colour and composition. These iconic works, which inspired and influenced the Surrealist paintings of Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and, Rene Magritte, are complemented by a selection of later paintings on the theme of Ariadne, whose serial approach foreshadows the work of Andy Warhol, a close friend of de Chirico in the 1970s.This exhibition brings together key works of the Ariadne series from private and public collections around the world and includes The Soothsayer's Recompense, along with related drawings and sculptures. Estorick Collection, London until 13th April.

Unknown Pleasures: Unwrapping the Royal Photographic Society Collection celebrates one of the world's finest collections of photographs and photographic technology. It has been created to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Photographic Society, and the move of the RPS collection to the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television. Founded in January 1853 by a small group of respectable amateurs, the Society looked to promote the art and science of photography in Britain and further afield. This exhibition includes over 300 objects and images revealing both the familiar and hidden dimensions of this diverse collection, reflecting documentary, fashion, travel, architectural and medical photography. Examples of the some of the finest work by pioneering photographers such as William Henry Fox Talbot, Lewis Carroll, Alfred Stieglitz, Alvin Langdon Coburn and Edward Weston, are seen alongside experimental cameras, stereoscopic equipment, portable darkrooms from the 1850s, pioneering colour processes, postcards, illustrated books and journals, manuscripts and ephemera. From the portraits of Dr. Diamond and the pastoral landscapes of Peter Henry Emerson, to one of the earliest X-ray images and Larry Burrows graphic record of the Vietnam War, the content of the exhibition reflects the breadth of scope of the art of photography. National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford until 30th March.

Silver 1800 - 2000 displays over 1000 pieces, showcasing artistry in many different period styles from classical, through Art Nouveau and the Art and Crafts movement, to modern cutting edge designs, in a series of newly restored rooms. Exhibits range from the spectacular - three life-size silver lions copied from Rosenborg Castle, Copehagen, the magnificent Doncaster race cup of 1857, and a sculpted tureen based on designs by Karl Friedrich Schinkel - to the mass-produced - a nutmeg grater and an electroplated jug supplied to a shipping line. Works by the pioneering designers A.W.N. Pugin, William Burges, Christopher Dresser and C.R. Ashbee all feature, as do those by major goldsmiths and retailers Paul Storr, J.B.C. Odiot and Elkington and Co. For the first time in two hundred years, major pieces from the most spectacular and stylistically adventurous table garniture of the 19th century are shown together. Frederick, Duke of York rivalled his older brother the Prince Regent (later George IV) in his taste for fine silver, buying large quantities of plate, modern French neoclassical and antique, indulging in an advanced historicist taste. The pieces include five extravagant candelabra incorporating classical figures, twelve salt cellars in the form of mythical sea creatures, and a grand cistern. Victoria & Albert Museum until April.

David Hockney: Five Double Portraits is a double celebration, marking the return to Britain of one of our most globally successful artists, and the discovery of (for him) a new medium - watercolour. Relishing the possibilities and restrictions of watercolour, these portraits are large (almost 4ft high), produced in a single six or seven hour sitting, with no preparatory sketches, and no possibility of over painted alterations. The centrepiece is a portrait of the Glyndebourne impresario Sir George Christie and his wife, commissioned by the gallery, which proved the catalyst for Hockney's interest in the medium, and produced a burst of creativity. National Portrait Gallery until 29th June.

Painting On Paper continues David Hockney's new enthusiasm for watercolour, with large scale, vividly coloured landscapes, painted on multiple sheets of paper, executed during visits to Norway and Iceland last summer. These have the qualities we expect of a Hockney painting, but which are rarely seen in watercolours. They are shown alongside line drawings and studies of bonsai trees, and a dozen more portraits. Typical of Hockney to rush to explore his new found medium with all kinds of subjects. Annely Juda Fine Art, 23 Dering Street, London W1 until1st March.

Paradise explores ways in which artists have reinterpreted the visible world to create images of paradise itself, to recall a lost Golden Age or a longed for future, or to show the world transformed and idealised. At the centre is Brueghel's The Garden Of Eden, imagined as a menagerie in which leopards lie down with guinea-pigs and parrots fly above penguins. Religious images include Benozzo Gozzoli's Virgin And Child With Angels, set in a heavenly garden recalling the lost Eden, and Friedrich's visionary Winter Landscape. The pastoral poetry of the ancient Greeks, revived in the Renaissance, is represented by Claude Lorrain in Landscape With Narcissus And Echo; the shepherds, nymphs and satyrs depicted by Poussin in A Bacchanalian Revel Before A Term Of Pan also derive from classical descriptions of a lost Arcadia; while Constable's The Cornfield presents a quintessentially English Golden Age. From among the 19th and 20th century artists who looked beyond these traditions in their search for the perfect world, are works by Gauguin, who sought Paradise in Tahiti and the islands the South Pacific, and Monet, who retreated from the world to the Eden of his water garden at Giverny. This is the second in a series of touring exhibitions organised by the National Gallery in association with regional partners. Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery until 30th March.

Working Water: Roman Technology In Action is a full scale reconstruction of a 2000 year old water lifting machine. The sophisticated Roman mechanism - possibly the earliest example of mechanical engineering in Britain - was uncovered in Gresham Street, in the City of London, in September 2001. However, key elements were missing, and there were no written instructions about its design or operation. By comparing evidence from the surviving remains with known examples of ancient engineering, and supporting these with modern engineering principles, experts have been able to reconstruct a unique machine, which in its original form would have been capable of raising an astonishing 72,000 litres (15,000 gallons) per 10 hour day. The completed machinery consists of an 8 sided oak drive wheel, with water buckets jointed together to form a continuous loop, that empty into a trough as they near the top of the chain. The 18 oak buckets are made from planks with a recessed base to allow room for the articulated movement of an iron chain. This reconstruction, on view outdoors, has been made with a capstan and gears, and is being operated by a trained demonstrator assisted by members of the general public. Museum Of London until 31st May.


Painting, Passion And Politics: Masterpieces From The Walpole Collection is an exhibition of paintings with an unusual history. Sir Robert Walpole, Britain's first Prime Minister, assembled one of the 18th century's most famous art collections for his estate at Houghton Hall in Norfolk. While in office, Walpole hung many of the pictures in 10 Downing Street. In 1778 his mercenary grandson caused a scandal by selling 204 works from the collection to Catherine the Great. This exhibition presents 34 of those paintings, most returning to England for the first time in over 200 years. Among these are works by 17th century Flemish, Dutch and Italian masters such as Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck, Frans Snyders, Guido Reni, Carlo Maratti and Salvator Rosa. In addition there are paintings by Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain, plus a work by Bartolome Murillo in its original frame designed for Houghton by William Kent. The paintings are accompanied by Renaissance sculpture, 18th century furniture and other materials acquired for Houghton Hall. Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House until 23rd February.

Art In The Making: Underdrawings In Renaissance Paintings looks the drawings with which artists sketched out their compositions on the prepared panel or canvas before painting. By their very nature, these underdrawings are normally hidden from view under layers of paint, and special photographic techniques using infrared radiation were required to make them visible. This exhibition reveals fascinating and spectacular images of the drawings beneath twenty familiar 15th and 16th century paintings. Although only ever created as preparatory sketches, and never intended to be seen, some of the underdrawings appear as brilliant creations in their own right, such as the free loops and whirls found beneath Altdorfer's 'Christ Taking Leave Of His Mother' or the delineation of the Master of the View of Saint Gudula's 'Portrait Of A Young Man'. In other examples, dramatic changes of composition by the artist are revealed, such as the complete reversal of Pontormo's design for 'Joseph With Jacob In Egypt'. National Gallery until 16th February.

Mad Bad And Dangerous: The Cult Of Lord Byron examines the Byronic phenomenon, which almost invented 'celebrity culture', charting how it was created and maintained. Bringing together over 100 works, including paintings, photographs, letters, literary manuscripts, memorabilia and examples of Byronic dress, this exhibition explores how Byron's literary fame and social notoriety were intertwined, and fuelled by the many carefully controlled visual representations of the poet. It also looks at Byron's influence on leading figures of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including Oscar Wilde, T E Lawrence and W H Auden, as well as the more recent stars of popular culture, such as Rudolf Valentino, James Dean and Mick Jagger. National Portrait Gallery until 16th February.