News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th October 2011


John Martin: Apocalypse charts the rise, fall and resurrection of a unique artistic reputation. John Martin was a key figure in the 19th century art world, renowned for his dramatic scenes of apocalyptic destruction and biblical catastrophe, yet he is little known today. This exhibition, the largest display of his works seen in public since 1822, brings together his most famous paintings, as well as previously unseen and newly restored works. It reassesses this singular figure in art history, and reveals the enduring influence of his apocalyptic vision on painting, cinema and spectacle. Hugely popular in his time, Martin was derided by the Victorian Art establishment as a 'people's painter', for although he excited mass audiences with his astounding scenes of judgement and damnation, to critics it was distasteful. His works were shown at popular venues like Piccadilly's Egyptian Hall rather than establishment galleries. In a sense ahead of this time, Martin's paintings - full of rugged landscapes and grandiose theatrical spectacle - have an enduring influence on today's cinematic and digital fantasy landscapes. The exhibition showcases the full range of Martin's most important oil paintings, including 'Belshazzar's Feast', The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum' and 'The Great Day of His Wrath', which toured the world after his death, thrilling audiences from New York to Sydney with their painstaking detail and epic sense of scale and drama; iconic mezzotint illustrations for The Bible and Milton's Paradise Lost; brilliant landscape watercolours; pioneering illustrations of dinosaurs, based on the latest fossil discoveries; and unrealised but visionary engineering projects, including plans for the embankment of the Thames and a metropolitan railway for London. Tate Britain until 15th January.

Richard Woods: Handmade Modern is an installation of new paintings and sculpture aimed at skewering design culture mores. Richard Wood's works seem to paradoxically both celebrate and gently mock British nostalgia for the designs of bygone eras, and undercut the somewhat self-congratulatory nature of Modernism through a collision of both aspirations. Presented overlaid on Woods's signature floorboard pattern-clad walls, his new Mock Tudor Mono Prints are based on hard-edged renditions of Mock Tudor suburban decoration, refiguring monochrome timbering as geometric abstractions in union flag patterns, where suburban Cheshire meets Neo Geo - the past made future. These are accompanied by a new sculpture series Hand Painted Table Leg Sculptures. These works are Victorian and Georgian style turned table legs that sit on barrel type structures and have been painted with band of concentric colour, aping Modern abstract painting. The clash of form and decoration gives the sculptures a peculiarly carnivalesque nature that stands in brilliant contrast to the austere monochrome minimalism of the Mock Tudor paintings. These two elements are interspersed with strikingly bright woodblock prints depicting Boy's Own-types hard at carpentry. Works|Projects, Sydney Row, Bristol, until 19th November.

Comedians From The 1940s To Now charts 70 years of British light entertainment through over 50 photographic portraits. The exhibition starts with comedians who began their careers while serving in the armed forces during the Second World War, including Kenneth Horne and Eric Sykes. From the 1950s a new captive audience was created with enduring radio shows such as Hancock's Half Hour staring Tony Hancock and Sid James, and The Goon Show with Spike Milligan. After them came performers from the satirical Establishment Club in the 1960s, including John Fortune, Eleanor Bron and John Bird. From the 1970s onwards, stars were made on television, from The Morecambe and Wise Show to The Catherine Tate Show, some of whom also forged film careers, such as Simon Pegg, Russell Brand and Ricky Gervais. On show for the first time are recent portraits of Jimmy Carr and Mitchell and Webb by Barry Marsden, Omid Djalili by Karen Robinson, Matt Lucas by Nadav Kander, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon by Rich Hardcastle, and Johnny Vegas by Karl J Kaul. Works by celebrated photographers such as Cecil Beaton and Annie Leibovitz are shown alongside portraits by less well known photographers such as Bob Collins, who documented the rise of radio and television performers in the 1950s; Lewis Morley, who became the 'official' photographer of the satire boom of the 1960s; and Trevor Leighton, who produced a survey of alternative comedians from the 1990s. The display includes a video introduction by Paul Merton, discussing the history of British comedy. National Portrait Gallery until 2nd January.


Postmodernism: Style And Subversion 1970 - 1990 surveys art, design and architecture of the 1970s and 1980s, examining one of the most contentious phenomena in recent art and design history. The exhibition shows how Postmodernism evolved from a provocative architectural movement in the early 1970s, and rapidly went on to influence all areas of popular culture, including art, film, music, graphics and fashion. It explores the radical ideas that challenged the orthodoxies of Modernism, overthrowing purity and simplicity, in favour of exuberant colour, bold patterns, artificial looking surfaces, historical quotation, parody and wit, and above all, released a newfound freedom in design. The exhibition brings together over 250 objects across all genres of art and design, revisiting a time when style was not just a 'look' but became an attitude. Among the highlights are designs of the Italian collectives Studio Alchymia and Memphis; graphics by Peter Saville and Neville Brody; architectural models and renderings, including the original presentation drawing for Philip Johnson's AT&T building; paintings by Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol; Jeff Koons' stainless steel bust 'Louis XIV'; a recreation of Jenny Holzer's illuminated billboard 'Protect Me From What I Want'; performance costumes, including David Byrne's big suit from the documentary 'Stop Making Sense'; excerpts from films such as Derek Jarman's 'The Last of England'; fashion photography by Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton; and music videos featuring Laurie Anderson, Grace Jones and New Order. Many Modernists considered style to be a mere sideshow to their utopian visions, but for the Postmodernists, style was everything. Victoria & Albert Museum until 15th January.

Colour, Rhythm And Form: J D Fergusson And France commemorates the 50th anniversary of the death of a key member of the internationally renowned Scottish Colourists. The exhibition highlights J D Fergusson's lifelong interest in France, which inspired him to produce some of his most substantial work. It also examines the role he played in the other Scottish Colourists' connections with France. The exhibition consists of around 50 paintings, watercolours, drawings and sculptures by Fergusson and fellow Colourists, S J Peploe, G L Hunter and F C B Cadell, alongside a range of archive material. It is organised into four main chronological sections, covering Fergusson's time in Paris, in the South of France, the breakthrough Colourist exhibitions in Paris, and finally his return to Glasgow. Highlights include 'La Dessee de la Riviere', 'Les Eus', 'Anne Estelle Rice, Closerie des Lilas', 'In the Woods, Cap d'Antibes', 'Rhythm', 'Le Manteau Chinois' and 'Self Portrait' by J D Fergusson; 'La Foret' by S J Peploe; and 'Lac Lomond' by G L Hunter. Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, until 8th January.

Separation And Silence: Wandsworth Prison marks the 160th anniversary of Britain's largest penal institution with an examination of how the treatment of its inmates has developed in that period. From an execution box to a letter from Oscar Wilde's wife Constance, desperate to see her husband, the display explores the past of Wandsworth Prison, its inmates, and the changes that have taken place in the prison system, from the punitive measures employed to the conditions of an inmate's cell. The exhibition focuses on the harsh corrective methods used in the 19th century, the 'separate system' adopted in the 1840s and the 'silent system' adopted in the 1830s. The former drove inmates mad through solitary confinement, while the latter broke the will of prisoners through needless hard labour. Highlights include an execution box (which contained the necessary equipment to perform an execution: two ropes, a white hood, and pinioning straps) dating from the 1920s; Inside Eye, a photography project that took place in the prison in the early 1990s; a handmade quilt produced by recent prisoners; photos taken by the prisoners that show their perspective of life on the inside; paintings created by inmates as part of their rehabilitation; and a noose used for capital punishment during the 1920s, along with original execution documents. Wandsworth Museum, 38 West Hill, London SW18, until 31st December.

Degas And The Ballet: Picturing Movement explores the French Impressionist's preoccupation with movement as an artist of the dance. The exhibition traces the development of Edgar Degas's ballet imagery throughout his career, from the documentary mode of the early 1870s to the sensuous expressiveness of his final years. It is the first to present Degas's progressive engagement with the figure in movement in the context of parallel advances in photography and early film. Degas was keenly aware of these technological developments and often directly involved with them. The exhibition comprises around 85 paintings, sculptures, pastels, drawings, prints and photographs by Degas, as well as photographs by his contemporaries and examples of early film. Highlights include the sculpture 'Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen', together with a group of preparatory drawings that together show the artist tracking around his subject like a camera, 'Dancer Posing for a Photograph', 'Dancer on Pointe', 'The Dance Lesson' and 'Dancers in a Rehearsal Room with a Double Bass'. The show explores the links between Degas's highly original way of viewing and recording the dance and the inventive experiments being made at the same time in photography by Jules-Etienne Marey and Eadweard Muybridge, and in film-making by pioneers such as the Lumiere brothers. By presenting Degas in this context, the exhibition demonstrates that he was far more than merely the creator of beautiful images of the ballet, but instead, a modern, radical artist who thought profoundly about visual problems and was fully attuned to the technological developments of his time. Royal Academy of Arts until 11th December.

Splendour And Power Imperial Treasures From Vienna offers a rare glimpse into the opulent world of the Hapsburg emperors. The exhibition comprises a selection of beautifully crafted cameos, jewellery, vessels and other objects made from gems, precious metals and hardstones, from the Kunstkammer collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. These objects, almost all of which are unique creations, were designed to demonstrate the incredible wealth, power and glory of the Hapsburg dynasty, and initially only visitors of noble birth, such as princes of neighbouring countries or diplomatic delegations, were granted access. The focus of the exhibition is on artworks from the late Renaissance and Mannerist periods, the heyday of treasuries and 'cabinets of curiosities', as well as from the Baroque. These include exquisite jewellery, from necklaces, pendants and lockets to rings and enseignes, complemented by pre-eminent examples of medieval and Renaissance jewellery; intricate portrait cameos, many bearing the likenesses of the Hapsburg sovereigns, crafted in the style of ancient Roman imperial portraits; ornate goldwork, vessels and coffers, including a bowl featuring embedded Roman coins, and a serpentine tankard; stonework, carving and sculpture, with precious objects crafted from agate, jasper, rock-crystal and lapis lazuli, including a cup made from rhinoceros horn and a Chinese jade bowl; a 15th century enamel model of the Annunication; and 'Venus and Cupid Sleeping on a Shell', created around 1600 from precious agate and set in a silver mount. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 8th January.

The Poster King: Edward McKnight Kauffer features the work of the artist who produced some of the most iconic and influential commercial imagery of the early 20th century. Edward McKnight Kauffer was a remarkably versatile artist who drew inspiration from a wide variety of styles, ranging from Japanese art to Fauvism, Vorticism and Constructivism, and encompassed painting, applied art, interior design and scenography. However, it was his celebrated posters, created for clients such as London Underground and Shell during the inter-war years, for which he remains most famous. Kauffer's pioneering work in the field of graphic design ranks alongside the achievements of fellow avant-garde figures such as T S Eliot, Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis, all of whom, like Kauffer, had roots in the United States, yet established their careers in London. In 1915 Kauffer received a commission to design publicity posters for the Underground. The originality and vibrancy of these images led Kauffer to receive commissions from a variety of companies and publishing houses over the following two decades, including Fortnum & Mason, Lund Humphries and Chrysler Motors. With a finger on the pulse of the latest artistic trends, Kauffer's special genius lay in his ability to adapt the language of the avant-garde to the needs of advertising, creating works that were not simply visually striking, but also rich in artistic merit. In addition to the renowned graphic work, the exhibition includes a nucleus of lesser- known paintings and prints, as well as a selection of photographs, working drawings and original designs. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39A Canonbury Square, London N1, until 18th December.


Rene Magritte: The Pleasure Principle is the most comprehensive exhibition of the work by the Belgian Surrealist ever staged in Britain. The exhibition brings together over 100 paintings by Rene Magritte, some never seen in Britain before, as well as a selection of his little known drawings, collages, photographs, home movies and commercial art. Renowned for witty images depicting everyday objects such as apples, bowler hats and pipes in unusual settings, Magritte plays with the idea of reality and illusion. The display explores compositional and conceptual devices that are present in Magritte's work, such as veiling and revelation (through curtains and stage sets), the uncanny double (the encounter with mannequins ambiguously located between life and death), paradoxical realities (the simultaneous state of night and day) and the metamorphic transformation of objects (through scale or petrification) to create an enigmatic and continually mesmerising world. Among the highlights are 'The Threatened Assassin', 'The Human Condition', 'Time Transfixed', 'The Dominion of Light', 'Golconda' and 'The Listening Room'. In addition to these iconic works, the exhibition includes paintings from his lesser known 'Vache' period, erotic works and examples of his commercial designs. Rare photographs and home movie footage illuminate the life and work of Magritte, providing insights into his relationship with his wife and muse Georgette, and his collaborations within the Belgian Surrealist group. What emerges is a versatile artist and complex figure with an often anarchic sense of humour whose art transcends the image of the unexciting bourgeois which he liked to project. Tate Liverpool until 16th October.

Durer's Fame examines the work of the 16th century German artist and his enduring influence, spanning 5 centuries. Albrecht Durer excelled as a painter and draughtsman, but it was his skill as a printmaker that spread his fame across Europe. The printmaking process allowed for multiple copies of Durer's work to be produced that could easily be sold and distributed. This accessibility, combined with his technical brilliance and highly individual style, made him a much admired and imitated artist. The exhibition showcases a selection of Durer's prints together with contemporary and later copies of his work. These objects are augmented by a selection of illicit imitations and surprising tributes, including a 21st century tattoo. Highlights include Durer's iconic 'Melancholy', 'Saint Jerome in his Study', 'Knight, Death and the Devil', 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' from 'The Apocalypse: Revelation of Saint John the Divine', 'Christ taking leave of his Mother' and 'Adam and Eve', alongside works by Italian and Netherlandish artists such as Marcantonio Raimondi's 'The Circumcision of Christ' from 'The Life of the Virgin', and Johan Wierix's 'Melencolia', Scottish artist John Runciman's 'Christ taking leave of his Mother', and a poster of German handball star Pascal Hens sporting a tattoo based on Durer's 'Study of Praying Hands'. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 11th October.

Treasures Of Heaven: Saints, Relic And Devotion In Medieval Europe explores the spiritual and artistic significance of Christian relics and reliquaries in medieval Europe. Featuring some of the finest sacred treasures of the medieval age, the exhibition provides an opportunity to view over 150 objects from more than 40 institutions, many of which have not been seen in the Britain before, brought together for the first time. Sacred items related to Christ or the saints were first used during the early medieval period as a focus for prayer and veneration by Christians throughout Europe. Relics were usually human body parts, or material items sanctified through their contact with holy persons or places. This exhibition features a very broad range of the kinds of relics which were venerated, including 3 thorns thought to be from the Crown of Thorns, the breast milk of the Virgin Mary, and the Mandylion of Edessa, one of the earliest known likenesses of Jesus. The objects on display range from small portable reliquaries in the form of jewellery, such as a pendant reliquary housing a single holy thorn, to large containers opulently adorned with gems, silver and gold. The beauty of a reliquary was intended to reflect the spiritual value of what it contained, and so reliquaries were made of the highest quality, often crafted in precious metals by extremely skilled goldsmiths. Exceptional examples include the 12th century bust reliquary of St Baudime from St Nectaire in the Auvergne, which once contained a vial of the saint's blood; the bejewelled Holy Thorn reliquary, set amid an enamelled representation of the Last Judgement; and the splendid gold arm reliquary of St George, which has been housed in the Treasury of St Mark's in Venice since the Sack of Constantinople. A variety of objects such as manuscripts, prints and pilgrim badges are exhibited alongside the relics and reliquaries themselves, adding depth and context to the exhibition's examination of this critical aspect of European history. British Museum until 9th October.