Private View held by Richard Andrews
Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda And Art modestly proclaims that it provides an opportunity to see 100 greatest maps in the world, over three-quarters of which are on public exhibition for the first time. Dating from 200AD to the present day, there are cartographic masterpieces on paper, wood, vellum, silver, silk and marble, including atlases, maps, globes and tapestries. Recreating the settings in which they would have originally been seen, from the palace to the schoolroom, the exhibition reveals how maps express an enormous variety of differing world views, using size and beauty to convey messages of status and power. Highlights include: 'Fra Mauro World Map' by William Frazer, a hand-drawn copy of the first great modern world map from the 15th century, made for the British East India Company; 'Confiance - ses Amputations se Poursuivent', a Second World War German propaganda poster portraying Churchill as an octopus, drawing on earlier comic maps; 'The Klencke Atlas', the largest atlas in the world, intended to be a summary of the world's knowledge, produced for Charles II on his restoration to the English throne; 'Chinese Terrestrial Globe' by Nicola Longobardi and Bartolomeo Dias, the earliest Chinese terrestrial Globe, made by Jesuit missionaries for the Chinese Emperor in the 17th century; 'Americae, sive quartae orbis partis, nova et exactissima' by Diego Gutierrez and Hieronymus Cock, a map made to flatter King Philip II of Spain and celebrate the Spanish domination of the New World; and 'World Map' by Pierre Desceliers, a compendious 16th century world map made for the King of France, celebrating the discoveries of Jacques Cartier in Canada, and showing the myths, animals and natural history in their correct place in the world. British Library until 19th September.
Pioneering Painters: The Glasgow Boys 1880 - 1900 is the first major exhibition devoted to this influential group of artists in a generation. The Glasgow Boys were a loosely bound group of around 20 artists, influenced by the Realism of French painter Le Bastien-Lepage and the artistic theories of their hero James McNeill Whistler. Not all of the artists in the group attended Glasgow School of Art, or were even Scottish, but they did all have studios in the city. The Glasgow Boys painted outdoors at various places in Scotland during the summer and returned to Glasgow in the winter. There was great friendship, and a regular exchange of ideas, between most of the members of the group. This is the definitive Glasgow Boys exhibition, comprising around 100 oil paintings and 50 works on paper, both celebrating the achievements of the group and reviewing their legacy. All the important artists in the group are represented, including James Guthrie, E A Hornel, George Henry, John Lavery, Joseph Crawhall, Arthur Melville, James Paterson, William Kennedy, E A Walton, Alexander Mann, Thomas Millie Dow and Bessie McNicol, the only female artist closely associated with them. Highlights include Guthrie's 'To Pastures New' and 'Funeral Service In The Highlands', Henry's 'Playmates' and 'The Druids Bringing in the Mistletoe', Lavery's 'Woman On A Safety Tricycle' and 'The Tennis Party', William Kennedy's 'Stirling Station', and Hornel and Henry's paintings from their Japanese expedition. Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow, until 27th September.
Christopher Lloyd: A Life At Great Dixter presents a unique perspective on the life and work of one of the great characters of 20th century gardening. Christopher Lloyd lived and worked for most of his life at his family home, Great Dixter in Kent. It was there, through his adventurous changes and characteristic use of colour, that he created one of the world's best loved gardens. Lloyd's work there informed and inspired his distinctive writing, published in national press and numerous books, which made him a household name and the most engaging plantsman of his generation. The exhibition brings together personal objects from Great Dixter, recollections and stories from Lloyd's friends and colleagues, including Beth Chatto, Andrew Lawson, Anna Pavord and Stephen Anderton, examples of his writing, and stunning images of his garden, to piece together a picture of the life behind the garden wall. It is the first time that this selection of his and his family's possessions have been on public display, including his gardening galoshes and his Glyndebourne shoes, designs by Lutyens, and photographs from the family's private darkroom. From his childhood at Dixter, through his education as a gardener and the early days of the nursery business, to his later life and career, the exhibition examines the links between Lloyd's public persona and his private interests and enthusiasms, from his annual pilgrimages to Scotland and Glyndebourne, to cooking, contemporary design, and mischievous correspondence. It endeavours to place Christopher Lloyd's work in context, revealing why he was such an influential figure in 20th century gardening, and how his posthumous reputation will continue to endure. The Garden Museum, London until 12th September.
Fra Angelico To Leonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings brings together the finest group of Italian Renaissance drawings to be seen in this country for over 70 years. The exhibition charts the increasing importance of drawing during the period between 1400 and 1510, featuring 100 works by amongst others Fra Angelico, Jacopo and Gentile Bellini, Botticelli, Carpaccio, Leonardo da Vinci, Filippo Lippi, Mantegna, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian and Verrocchio. In addition, infrared reflectography and other non-invasive scientific analysis of the works give fresh insights into the techniques and creative thinking of Renaissance artists as they experimented with a freedom not always apparent in their finished works. It was during the 1400s that artists began to make drawings as works of art in their own right, signifying the beginning of a wider appreciation of graphic works, which were beginning to be collected and preserved. This rising importance of drawing is evident in works such as Mantegna's mordant allegory of human folly, the 'Virtus Combusta' or later examples of finished presentation drawings such Leonardo's silverpoint 'Bust of a Warrior' from the 1470s. A highlight is the first surviving study for a panel painting: Lorenzo Monaco's study in the Uffizi for the left-wing of his 'Coronation of the Virgin' altarpiece, the first time the drawing and the related panel have been brought together. The exhibition gives a broad overview of the development of drawing throughout Italy, but with a particular emphasis on Florence, whose artists' works were characterised by the depiction of movement and the expression of emotion and states of mind, and Venice, whose artists' approach was dominated by atmospheric light and colour. British Museum until 25th July.
A World Observed 1940 - 2010: Photographs By Dorothy Bohm is the first major retrospective of the Prussian born London based photographer, widely acknowledged as one of the doyennes of British photography. This comprehensive exhibition brings together over 200 of Dorothy Bohm's photographic images from a career spanning more than six decades and several continents, many of them seen in public for the first time. The show reveals a wide array of aesthetically striking yet deeply humane, visually sophisticated yet immediately accessible photographs, which document a rapidly changing world in the second half of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Bohm's early portraits are displayed in a reconstruction of her Manchester studio, while a separate replica darkroom demonstrates the now almost forgotten technique of black and white photographic processing. She abandoned studio portraiture for 'street photography', travelling widely, and capturing insights into the changing face of post Second World War Europe, as well as the USA, the USSR and Israel. In the early 1980s, transitioning through exploring the potential of Polaroid photography, Bohm turned exclusively to working in colour. Since then, although the human figure in its natural setting is still the primary focus of her work, and she continues to use photography in its purest, unmanipulated form, her approach has become more painterly, with an ever greater interest in spatial and other forms of ambiguity. Manchester Art Gallery until 30th August.
Rainforest Life is a new £400,000 exhibit that brings the vegetation and wildlife of the South American rainforest to the centre of London. It is a walkthrough hot and humid tropical wilderness, with 550 plant species, including 8m tall trees imported from Costa Rica, where visitors can experience close up free running mammals, birds and insects, at both forest floor and treetop canopy levels. Among the animal species living in the no glass/no bars central biome are golden lion tamarins, Goeldi's monkeys, Geoffroy's marmosets, pottos, slow loris, slender loris, emperor tamarin, lemurs, pygmy marmosets, agoutis, armadillo, tamandua and sandbitterns. 10 species in the exhibit are endangered, and it is hoped that they will breed in these ideal conditions, safe from predators. Computer sensors disguised as trees fire off a mist sprinkler system to keep humidity levels between 70-80%, and temperature is maintained at 20-28C.
Night Life is a completely different environment, but just as spectacular, revealing how the rainforest comes to life at night, where visitors can come face to face with the bats, rats, glow in the dark scorpions and other nocturnal creatures who make the dark their home.
London Zoo, Regents Park continuing.
Quilts 1700 - 2010 explores 300 years of British quilt making in the first major exhibition of its kind in this country. It comprises more than 65 quilts from a cot cover made in the 1690s to recent examples by leading contemporary artists including Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry, as well as special commissions by Sue Stockwell, Caren Garfen and Jo Budd. The extraordinary variety of quilts range from the highly decorative and opulent, such as the Bishop's Court Quilt, once believed to have been created by a Duke for a visit from King Charles II in 1670, to modest homemade bed covers, all testifying to the creativity and imagination of the makers. Where appropriate the quilts are displayed on bed mounts as they were originally designed to be seen, including a unique set of 1730 patchwork bed hangings. Highlights include a silk and ribbon cot quilt from Deal Castle, with portraits of the children who slept beneath it and the maker's diary written in code, revealing political intrigue and family life in the 18th century; a cotton coverlet depicting George III Reviewing the Troops, where the maker, an unknown young woman, has inserted her portrait into several of the military scenes; the 1829 Elisabeth Chapman coverlet, commemorating Wellington's Victory at Vittoria, once believed to be a marriage token, but now revealed to be an epitaph connected to a macabre Georgian tale; and the Rajah quilt, made in 1841 by women convicts aboard the HMS Rajah as they were being transported to Van Dieman's Land. There are also prints and paintings, including one by Hogarth, as well as additional contextual material such as personal diaries and keepsakes relating to the quilts and their makers. Victoria & Albert Museum until 4th July.
Francis Bacon: In Camera explores the works of one of Britain's most important 20th century artists from the perspective of his working processes. The exhibition features significant oil paintings by Francis Bacon from 1944 to1989, including 5 works never seen in Britain before, alongside the artefacts and images that inspired them, including archival material from his studio, photography and film stills. Bacon always asserted that his paintings appeared as if by magic, but close examination of visual imagery from his studio shows that Bacon followed a complex and idiosyncratic form of preparation, based largely on film and photography. What is revealed are photographs, often twisted and torn, and papers ripped and folded, in a process that in many ways becomes a method of preparatory drawing. Bacon colluded in the myth of his own spontaneity, yet sheets from a notebook found at his studio show careful planning - akin to laundry lists - of exactly what he planned to paint on a particular day. For all Bacon's legacy of portraits, he only ever painted four sitters from life, and their experiences reinforce the hidden side of the artist's approach. When Lucian Freud arrived at Bacon's studio to sit for a portrait he discovered the painting virtually finished (based on a photograph of Franz Kafka). In 1949, Bacon's fusion of a Velazquez portrait with stills from the Odessa Steps sequence in Eisenstein's iconic film Battleship Potemkin was crucial to his developing agenda to make figurative art 'modern'. The exhibition explores the influence of films by directors such as Bunuel and Resnais, together with photographs by Muybridge and John Deakin, which informed Bacon's reconfigurations of the human body. Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 20th June.
Relics Of Old London: Photography And The Spirit Of The City offers an insight into photography's historic, and ongoing, role in documenting the texture of the urban environment. Prompted by the imminent demolition of the Oxford Arms, a galleried inn near St Paul's, to make way for the expansion of the Old Bailey in 1875, the Society for the Photographing of Relics of Old London was established. The society decided to use photography as a means of documenting buildings that represented old London that were threatened with destruction, and publishing the results in an annual report. To accompany it, from 1881 onwards, a descriptive text was added, providing a historical background to each of the buildings. This exhibition presents a selection of these photographs from the 1870s and 1880s taken by A & J Bool, and later, Henry Dixon & Son, which capture some of the buildings and streets that were the legacies of earlier centuries, with many showing examples of Tudor or Stuart architecture. In the mid 19th century, these were periods which were often considered to be the most romantic in English history. Both photographers created views within the picturesque aesthetic that was to remain popular with British photography well into the 20th century. As suggested by their name, the Society for Photographing Relics of Old London's principal concern was with the disappearance of an older pre-industrial London. By including buildings of a more domestic scale, the Society showed that urban vernacular architecture was both of historic interest and architectural merit, equally, if not more, at risk than grander public buildings. Royal Academy of Arts until 22nd June.
Ron Arad: Restless is a retrospective of the work of the internationally acclaimed London based maverick, variously described as a designer, architect and artist. Spanning three decades, the exhibition traces the development of Ron Arad's designs from his early post-punk approach, assembling works from readymade parts, to his technologically advanced sculptural objects made of highly polished metals. Bringing together over 120 works, the exhibition features some of Arad's most celebrated pieces, including 'Rover Chair', a car seat salvaged from a scrap yard mounted on a steel frame, that famously caught the eye of Jean Paul Gaultier; 'Well-Tempered Chair', a reinterpretation of the overstuffed club chair using four thin sheets of tempered steel bent and held together by wing nuts; 'Reinventing the Wheel', a bookcase inspired by a children's toy, featuring a globe floating inside a sphere, with a wheel-within-a-wheel construction, keeping the shelves level as it is rolled around; and 'Lolita', a chandelier made up of 1050 LED lights embedded within 2,100 crystals, which has its own mobile phone number, so text messages can appear at the top of the chandelier and wind down the ribbon curves, creating the impression that it is slightly spinning. Architectural projects featured include the rotating mountain top restaurant and gallery Les Diablarets in Gstaad, Swizerland; the recently opened Mediacite shopping complex in Liege, Belgium; and the Design Museum in Holon, Israel. Barbican Gallery until 16th May.
Chopin: The Romantic Refugee examines the ways in which Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin's music displays his Polish patriotism, in the context of the political sympathies for Poland that were current in France and England during his lifetime. Born 200 years ago, Chopin was a child prodigy whose brilliance as a pianist quickly spread beyond his native Poland, and a tour of Europe cemented his reputation as a composer of startlingly original piano music. Poland was variously partitioned between Russia, Prussia and Austria in the late 18th century, and in 1831 the Kingdom of Poland, established at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, fell under Russian rule. Chopin's nationalist sympathies prevented him from returning to Warsaw after his tour of Europe, and he spent the rest of his life in exile, mainly in Paris, where he associated with the leading writers, artists and composers. The exhibition comprises original manuscripts of several of his most famous compositions, portraits, letters and historic documents. Among the highlights are 6 original music manuscripts in Chopin's hand, including the A major Polonaise, and his late masterpiece, the Barcarolle; a signed copy of Adam Mickiewicz's national epic Ksiegi narodu polskiego; 2 portraits of Chopin, on show in public for the first time; Chopin's death mask, and a plaster cast of his left hand; and rare historic recordings, including the Funeral march played in 1903 by Raoul Pugno, who had studied with Chopin's pupil Georges Mathias, and recordings of Chopin's songs by the Polish soprano Marcella Sembrich. British Library until 16th May.
Van Doesburg And The International Avant-Garde: Constructing A New World is the first major exhibition in Britain devoted to the Dutch artist who was a pivotal figure of the European avant-garde. Theo van Doesburg, who worked in art, design and text, founded the far reaching movement and magazine De Stijl. This artistic movement of painters, architects and designers sought to build a new society in the aftermath of the First World War, advocating an international style of art and design, based on a strict geometry of horizontals and verticals. Van Doesburg travelled extensively in Europe in the 1920s, making connections and collaborating with avant-garde contemporaries. This exhibition explores van Doesburg's role as promoter of Dutch Neoplasticism, his Dada personality, his efforts to influence the Bauhaus, his links with international Constructivists, and his creation of the group Art Concret. The show features over 350 works, including van Doesburg's rarely seen Counter-Composition paintings and designs for the Cafe Aubette in Stasbourg, and furniture such as Rietveld's iconic Red-Blue chair, as well as typography, magazines, stained glass, film, music, sculpture and more. In addition there are works by key artists in the movement, such as Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Piet Mondrian, Francis Picabia, Gerrit Rietveld, Kurt Schwitters and Sophie Taeuber. Tate Modern until 16th May.