Private View held by Richard Andrews
Blumenfeld Studio: New York 1941 - 1960 looks at the latter works of one of the most influential, yet one of the least least known, photographers of the 20th century. Having produced an extensive body of work throughout his 35 year career, it was in the USA that Erwin Blumenfeld's humorous, inventive and personal work flourished. This exhibition celebrates the output of his Central Park studio during the Second World War and post-war boom years, including fashion photography, advertising campaigns, personality portraits, 'war effort' propaganda posters and experimental work, which have since been recognised as significant technical achievements in the field. It features over 90 original modern prints, fully restored in colour, original publication clippings and rarely seen fashion films from the early 60s. After fleeing occupied France in 1941 to settle in New York, the German born photographer was immediately signed up by Harper's Bazaar, and after only 3 years of working in the USA, he had become one of the most famous and highly paid photographers in the business. Blumenfeld enjoyed a 15 year collaboration with Vogue, shooting over 50 covers, including portraits of famous models and high society women of the era. He also regularly worked with other fashion magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Life Magazine, as well as producing major advertising campaigns for fashion and beauty clients, including Dior, Elizabeth Arden, Max Factor, L'Oreal and Helena Rubenstein. Highly inventive and often opposing conventional codes, Blumenfeld developed his own idiosyncratic style, using photomontage, solarisation, colour slides and a host of hybrid techniques. From the start of his career, he was very much influenced by the idea of photography as art, wishing to be respected as an avant-garde artist rather than a fashion photographer. Somerset House, until 1st September.
Mary Rose Museum has opened in the same dockyard at which Henry VIII's most celebrated warship was built over 500 years ago, 30 years since the hull was raised from the bottom of the Solent, and 437 years after she sank on 19th July 1545. The Mary Rose is the only 16th century warship on display anywhere in the world, and the museum reunites the ship with many of the 19,000 artefacts raised from the wreck. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre, the building takes the form of a finely crafted wooden 'jewellery box', with the hull at its centre and galleries running the length of the ship, each at a level corresponding to a deck level on the ship. Artefacts are displayed in such a way as to provide an insight into what these decks would have looked like moments before the ship sank, and tell some of the personal stories of life on board. The lives of a carpenter, cook and an archer and other members of crew (including Hatch, the ship's dog) are revealed by unique objects found with them, as well as their own personal belongings. Life on board is shown from the pewter ware of the officers, musical instruments, books, accessories and clothing, through to simple leather sandals, nit combs and even rat bones, as hundreds of objects are laid out to be explored. In addition, through DNA research, precise reconstructions and the careful use of human remains, the harsh reality of Tudor life is brought home, including the skeleton of an archer with the repetitive strain of pulling huge longbows still etched on his bones. Conservation work on the hull is in its final phase in a 'hot box' with fabric ducts directing dried air at exact temperatures across all parts of the hull, which can currently be viewed through a series of windows giving different aspects over, and around, the ship. Once drying is complete, in 4 to 5 years time, the internal walls will be removed and the hull will be viewed through nothing but air. Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth Dockyard, continuing.
STEADman@77: A Ralph Steadman Retrospective Exhibition celebrates the career (and 77th birthday) of one of the most important British graphic artists of the last 50 years. Ralph Steadman is probably best known for his long collaboration with the writer Hunter S Thompson, most notably providing the illustrations for Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, and helping to create what has become known as 'Gonzo' journalism. The exhibition of over 100 original works explores the full range of Steadman's output, including his earliest published work from 1956, material from Rolling Stone, Private Eye, Punch, the New Statesman, The Times, the New York Times and the Observer, as well as his illustrated books, Sigmund Freud, Alice In Wonderland, Through The Looking Glass, I, Leonardo, The Bid I Am and Animal Farm. There are atmospheric wine drawings from Oddbins catalogues, savage political cartoons, humanitarian pictures, and some of his charming and funny illustrations for children's books. The show also includes examples of the extinct and imaginary 'boids' he created for his most recent book Extinct Boids, featuring exotic, but now sadly extinct, creatures. The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1, until 8th September.
Michael Landy: Saints Alive is an exhibition of kinetic sculpture inspired by Renaissance paintings of saints. Michael Landy's imagination has been captured by images of saints, the colourful and detailed portrayal of their lives, their attributes, and stories of their single-mindedness and strength. Towering over visitors, the seven large scale sculptures swivel and turn, in movements that evoke the drama of each saint's life. The saints Apollonia, Catherine, Francis, Jerome and Thomas, plus an additional figure that takes a number of saints as its inspiration, stand alongside collages on paper that show the creative process on which Landy embarked to arrive at the kinetic sculptures. The works are cast in fibreglass, painted and assembled with the addition of metal cogs, wheels, defunct fan belts and motors, accumulated from junkyards, car boot sales and flea markets. The result looks like a mixture of Victorian automata and Heath Robinson. Landy has reworked the two dimensional images into three dimensional pieces, creating elements hidden from view in the original paintings, such as a saint's back or the fullness of folds of drapery. Keen to encourage interaction with the works, Landy has devised foot pedal mechanisms that allow visitors to crank them to life. Among the paintings that inspired the sculptures are Carlo Crivelli's 'Saint Jerome', Lucas Cranach the Elder's 'Saints Genevieve and Apollonia', Sassetta's 'The Stigmatisation of Saint Francis', Cosimo Tura's 'Saint Jerome' and Pintoricchio's 'Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Donor', which features a 3m diameter wheel that visitors can spin to reveal episodes of the saint's life as they pass among the sculptures, and view a collage created with fragments of wheel images reproduced from paintings. National Gallery until 24th November.
Master Drawings comprises works on paper of the greatest quality drawn by some of the most famous artists in the history of western art. The exhibition features 72 drawings of all types - figure studies, composition sketches, landscapes and portraits - by 51 artists, from Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael; Durer and the artists of the Northern Renaissance; through the centuries to Rubens and Rembrandt; Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard and Goya; Turner, Palmer, Degas, Cezanne and Pissarro; up to Gwen John, David Hockney and Antony Gormley. Many are working drawings, providing a unique insight into artists' thoughts and working methods, while others were made as works of art in their own right. Among the highlights are a study by Michelangelo for the Sistine ceiling, and an image of the Virgin and the risen Christ; Raphael's figure of the kneeling Magdalen, delicately outlined in silverpoint, and the famous studies of the hands and the heads of two Apostles for the Transfiguration; Durer's 'View of the Cembra Valley'; Rembrandt's 'Head Study of an Old Man'; a self portrait by Samuel Palmer; and watercolour sketches by JMW Turner from the beginning and end of his career. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 18th August.
IncrEdibles: A Voyage Through Surprising Edible Plants offers an opportunity to experience the weird and wonderful world of incredible edible plants. Tasty edibles that are sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly, sometimes surprising and sometimes just plain weird are spread throughout the gardens. The Palm House is home to 60 edible plants, revealing how many of the everyday foods we eat have their roots in the rainforest. The Palm House Pond has been transformed into a boating lake and participatory artwork, the centre piece of which is a floating pineapple island. Visitors can stroll over a walkway running across the water to the island, and watch the small colourful rowing boats, drift lazily past, or hire a boat themselves, explore the pond, and enter the secret banana grotto beneath the pineapple. From July onwards the Palm House Parterre will be transformed into an edible display including aubergine, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, harking back to a time when it was used for purely practical reasons, to grow crops for the nation during the two World Wars. Alongside the parterre, the Broadwalk is planted with 16 different varieties of pumpkins and squashes, which will provide a splash of colour in the autumn. Next door, in the Waterlilly House, 30 species of chillies have been planted alongside tropical edibles. The Global Kitchen Garden features over 90 edible plants from different regions of the world including South America, West Asia and Europe, with grapes, pomegranate and olive trees. In the Rose Garden's Tea Party, a huge variety of different edible plants are growing out of plates, goblets, dishes, jugs and platters. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew until 3rd November.
Cosmos & Culture examines humanity's relationship with the stars through stories drawn from the whole of astronomy's history and from around the world. The exhibition reveals how telescopes and other instruments have opened our eyes to the huge variety of the cosmos, from Thomas Harriot's first sight of the Moon through a telescope 400 years ago to future plans for liquid mirror telescopes on the lunar surface, and from William Herschel's discovery of Uranus with a hand-built telescope to the international engineering project of the new infrared Herschel Space Observatory. It explores how people have tried to make sense of Earth's place in the universe through the constantly changing science of astronomy, with rare works including editions of Copernicus's 'On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres' and Galileo's 'Dialogue on the Two World Systems', showing how the understanding of our position in the cosmos has changed. Developments in astronomy across many cultures are represented by artefacts from around the globe, such as Arabian astrolabes, European astrological tables, Chinese globes, Byzantine calendars and Japanese star maps. The aesthetics of astronomy are shown in large-scale images from some of the world's great telescopes. Finally, the exhibition examines how astronomy has inspired - and been inspired by - fiction, particularly thoughts of extraterrestrial life, through books by H G Wells, Hal Clement and Arthur C Clarke, 1930s pulp fiction magazines such as 'Amazing Stories', and film and television titles including 'It Came From Outer Space' and 'Doctor Who', plus cosmic music from Debussy to the Grateful Dead. Science Museum until 14th December.
Cairo To Constantinople: Early Photographs Of The Middle East charts a Victorian royal journey. In 1862, the young Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, was sent on a 4 month educational tour of the Middle East, accompanied by the British photographer Francis Bedford. This exhibition documents his journey through the work of Bedford, the first photographer to travel on a royal tour. It explores the cultural and political significance Victorian Britain attached to the region, which was then as complex and contested as it remains today. The tour took the Prince to Egypt, Palestine and the Holy Land, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. During the journey he met rulers, politicians and other notable figures, and travelled in a manner unassociated with royalty, by horse and camping out in tents. On the royal party's return to England, Francis Bedford's work was displayed in what was described as 'the most important photographic exhibition that has hitherto been placed before the public'. Bedford's pictures are amongst the earliest photographs of many of the sites he visited, and are certainly the first of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Large plate cameras were the only available equipment at the time, the exposures were long, and the prints made directly from the negatives, which gives them a unique quality. Enhanced by the relatively simple optics of the lenses, his pictures have marvellous unity of light and an extraordinary depth of pin-sharp focus. In addition, there is a small display of the antiquities that the prince acquired during the trip. This is mainly a miscellany of Greek and Egyptian objects, but also includes some jewellery with ancient stones in modern settings, their Egyptian style a kind of proto Art Deco. The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, until 21st July.
Estuary brings together the work of 12 artists who have been inspired by the outer limits of the Thames where the river becomes the sea. With its dramatic landscape of desolate mudflats and saltmarshes, vast open skies, container ports, power stations and seaside resorts, the Estuary has long been a rich source of inspiration for artists and writers. Through film, photography, painting and printmaking, the contemporary artists featured in this exhibition offer new insight into this often overlooked, yet utterly compelling, environment and the people that live and work there. The works comprise 'Thames Film' by William Raban; 'Seafort Project' by Stephen Turner; 'Thames Painting: The Estuary' and 'Study for The Estuary' by Michael Andrews; 'Purfleet: from Dracula's Garden and Dagenham' by Jock McFadyen; 'Horizon (Five Pounds a Belgian)' by John Smith; 'Southend Pier 2011' from the series 'Pierdom' by Simon Roberts; 'Medway' by Christiane Baumgartner; '51º 29'.9" North - 0º11' East Rainham Barges' by Bow Gamelan Ensemble; 'The Golden Tide' by Gayle Chong Kwan; 'Jaunt' by Andrew Kotting; 'Thames Gateway' by Peter Marshall; and a new film by Nikolaj Larsen. The exhibition is a reminder of the changing face of this country's infrastructure, its natural landscape, and an insight into the Thames's own resultant shifting importance. Museum of London Docklands, West India Quay, E14, until 27th October.
George Catlin: American Indian Portraits is the first exhibition in Britain of the work of the 19th century American artist, writer and showman since the 1840s. George Catlin documented Native American peoples and their cultures to serve as a record of what he believed to be a passing way of life. What he created is regarded as one of the most important records of indigenous peoples ever made. Catlin was not the only artist to embark on such a project in the 19th century, but his record is the most extensive still in existence. This exhibition comprises over 60 exhibits, including paintings, manuscripts and illustrated books. Catlin made his first Native American Indian portrait in 1826, a sketch of Seneca chief Red Jacket. He made 5 trips in the western part of the United States during the 1830s before the Native American peoples of those regions had been subsumed into the legal boundaries of the United States. The 'Indian Gallery' comprised the materials and work Catlin produced, during and inspired by those trips, which included some 500 portraits, pictures and indigenous artefacts. Catlin aimed to meet as many Indian peoples as he could and his total was around 48 different indigenous groups or 'nations' by the time the 'Indian Gallery' reached its zenith. Catlin's entrepreneurial spirit led him to tour the 'Indian Gallery' in the eastern states from 1837-39, but he failed in selling it to the United States government. He then went on to tour the gallery in Europe for the next 10 years, including exhibitions held in Britain, France and Belgium. Always needing to make financial gains from his endeavours, Catlin used brash entrepreneurial methods to promote the spectacle of the 'Indian Gallery' during its European tour. He was so successful that his record of Native Americans still dominates their representation today. National Portrait Gallery until 23rd June.
R B Kitaj: Obsessions - Analyst For Our Time is a retrospective of the American born, London resident, artist who created work with strong autobiographical elements exploring some of the central questions of the 20th century. During the 1960s R B Kitaj, together with his friends Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach and Lucian Freud, were instrumental in pioneering a new, figurative art that defied the trend in abstraction and conceptualism. From the mid 1970s, Kitaj began to position himself explicitly as a Jewish artist coupled with his study of role models such as Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, and Walter Benjamin. Confronting the history of the Holocaust, and reflecting on his identity as an outsider, he created a Jewish modern art, which he termed 'diasporic', with a rich palate of colour and enigmatic, recurring motifs. The exhibition comprises over 50 major paintings, sketches and prints presenting an overview of all periods of Kitaj's work from the 1960s to his death in 2007. It considers Kitaj's early presentations of a fragmented world, reflecting his interest in art history and intellectuals, and his paintings and collages addressing issues of European politics, philosophy and literature such as 'The Murder of Rosa Luxembourg' and 'The Rise of Fascism'. Also included are portraits of personal friends and figures he admired, such as his portrait of David Hockney, 'The Neo-Cubist', and fictional characters from literature such as 'The Arabist'. His fascination with the relationship between the body, sexuality and history is reflected in a series of powerful paintings of bathers including 'Self-Portrait as a Woman' and 'The Sensualist'. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 16th June.
Gert & Uwe Tobias features the collaborative works of the identical twin Romanian-born contemporary artists. Gert and Uwe Tobias paint, sculpt, make collages, wall paintings, traditional woodcuts and draw with a typewriter. Their works are full of strange characters and creatures drawn from eastern European folk art, combined with diverse influences, from abstract art of the early 20th century to German post-war painting. The Tobias brothers' giant woodcuts and wall paintings draw on modernist geometric abstraction, however they combine line, shape, colour and typography with the narrative images and patterns of folk art, using decorative motifs such as flowers, plants, patterns, embroidery and domestic objects. Their collages are like stage sets on which splashes of pigment and found images of animals or humans are assembled in a performance, and playfulness combines with violence as body parts are fragmented across the picture surface. Their figures also metamorphose into plants or birds, which, macabre yet innocent, lend a surreal dimension to the Tobias' imagery. These elements are often placed against a grid or flat painted background to create dramatic and surreal tableaux. The Tobias brothers have created an installation incorporating the tradition of modernist stage design with geometric shapes and lines in bold colours extending from the works across the walls. There are also new ceramic works, made by taking mass-produced crockery, and adding ceramic extrusions and coloured glazes to everyday plates and vases, creating new and unexpected expressionistic sculptures. The Tobias brothers have produced a unique woodcut exhibition poster, continuing a tradition of creating a woodcut to mark every one of their solo exhibitions. Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1, until 14th June.