News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th January 2010

Commencing

Less And More - The Design Ethos Of Dieter Rams is a retrospective of the work of the man who designed or oversaw the design of over 500 products for the German electronics manufacturer Braun, as well as furniture for Vitsoe. Audio equipment, calculators, shavers and shelving systems are just some of the products created by Dieter Rams between 1955 and 1995. Each item holds a special place in the history of industrial and furniture design, and they established Rams as one of the most influential designers of the late 20th century. His elegant products challenged original concepts of design thought by reducing electrical switches to a minimum and arranging them in an orderly manner. Transparent plastics and wooden veneers were mixed, and colour schemes were limited to tones of pure whites and greys, the only splash of colour being allocated to switches and dials. Heavily influenced by the Bauhaus and Ulm School of Art in Germany, Dieter Rams pioneered a design spirit which embraced modernity and placed functionality above everything else, resulting in designs that were free of decoration, simple in function and embodied a cohesive sense of order. Rams defined an elegant, legible, yet rigorous visual design language, identified through his 'Ten Principles' of good design, which, amongst others stated that good design should be innovative, aesthetic, durable and useful. Showcasing landmark designs for both Braun and Vitsoe, this exhibition examines how Rams's design ethos inspired and challenged perceptions of domestic design, and assesses his lasting influence on today's design landscape. Archive film footage, models, sketches, prototypes and images taken by international photographer Todd Eberle are displayed alongside specially commissioned interviews with Dieter Rams's contemporaries, including Jonathan Ive, Jasper Morrison, Sam Hecht and Naoto Fukasawa. Design Museum, Shad Thames, London, until 7th March

An Edwardian Family Album is an exhibition of recently discovered photographs giving a glimpse into the life and leisure time of a Wirral family during the Edwardian era. A collection of more than 500 glass plate negatives, covering the period from around 1900 to the early 1920s, were found in an attic, still in their original boxes and paper sleeves, many labelled with dates, locations and subjects. These plates have been scanned and enlarged to create the 40 prints in this exhibition. The pictures were taken by Jack Urton, a keen amateur photographer, who lived in Birkenhead and later in Bebington. Typical family photographs, they show his family at home and in the garden, with relatives and friends, and on days out in Wirral and further afield, in the carefree days that marked the period immediately before the First World War. Early 20th century photographs, particularly the kind of snapshots taken by Urton, portray an idealised image of the comforts of family life. They record personal and economic achievements, providing evidence of the family's status through such things as their holidays, clothing, large garden and even transport. Improvements in technology meant that families no longer relied on commercial or professional photographers and their formal studio portraits. Instead, as demonstrated by Urton's pictures of his own family, photography entered the domestic setting, showing people more relaxed and spontaneous. This personal, intimate view of an Edwardian family evokes a bygone age, but nevertheless, resonates today with an immediacy and familiarity. Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, until 3rd May.

Decode: Digital Design Sensations showcases the latest developments in digital and interactive design, from small, screen-based, graphics to large-scale interactive installations. The exhibition features both existing works and new commissions created especially for this event, by established international artists and designers, such as Daniel Brown, Golan Levin, Daniel Rozin, Troika and Karsten Schmidt. It explores three themes: Code presents pieces that use computer code to create new works, and looks at how code can be programmed to create constantly fluid and ever-changing works; Interactivity looks at works that are directly influenced by the viewer, where visitors can interact with and contribute to the development of the exhibits; and Network focuses on works that comment on and utilise the digital traces left behind by everyday communications, and looks at how advanced technologies and the internet have enabled new types of social interaction and mediums of self-expression. Among the works are: a film by John Maeda, the medium's original whiz-kid, that explores inorganic metamorphoses through computer animation; flowers grown from computer code, set to blossom as digital wallpaper; a mechanical eye that mimics the optic movements of those who stare at it; an infrared powered hairdryer that blows the seeds off a giant dandelion; and a 'responsive sculpture' that creates a mirror image of viewers on 768 motorised planes. Victoria & Albert Museum until 11th April.

Continuing

The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam marks the 150th anniversary of Edward FitzGerald's publication of an interpretation of the poetical work attributed to an 11th century Persian mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam is one of the best known poems in the world. It has been translated into 85 languages, is among the most widely illustrated of all literary works, with over 130 known illustrators, has inspired many composers, and has been widely parodied - and also used in advertising. This exhibition tells the unlikely story of a medieval Persian scientist and poet, and a Victorian English writer, and the way their verses achieved international acclaim. Among the highlights are: a recreation of The Great Omar, a lavish, binding for the Rubaiyat, with a design featuring peacocks and grapes, inlaid and tooled in gold, with some 1,000 jewels, including Topazes, turquoises, amethysts, garnets, olivines and an emerald; a 16th century decorated Persian manuscript, containing the poems of Hafiz, interspersed with over 350 of Omar Khayyam's quatrains, individually inserted in especially illuminated panels; menus, pictures and other ephemera from an exclusive Victorian dining club established to celebrate the Rubaiyat; early 20th century parodies, such as Rubaiyat of a motor car, The Golfer's Rubaiyat, The Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten, and The Rubaiyat of a Maconochie Ration (a tinned stew issued as army rations in the First World War); and William Morris's special version of the Rubaiyat, made as a gift for Georgina Burne-Jones, hand written by Morris, with hand painted and coloured decorations and illustrations designed by him and Sir Edward Burne-Jones. British Library until 21st February.

Eric Gill: Sacred And Profane features iconic etchings and wood engravings revealing the contradictions between the late Victorian artist's deeply held religious faith and his controversial sexual interests. This exhibition examines these polarities in the engraver, typographer and sculptor, whose legacy has been dogged with accusations of incest and bestiality. Eric Gill became one of the most prolific English artists of his generation, and over a long career produced more than 100 engraved designs for books, becoming intricately linked with the Arts and Craft movement. Gill's work is characterised by a fervent Roman Catholicism, and images of saints, Biblical scenes and crucifixions dominate. However, these are juxtaposed with drawings of an often overtly sexual nature: couples embrace passionately, and nude figures pose provocatively, frequently in the shadow of the heavens. Gill somehow found a way of accommodating both deeply religious and sexual imagery. The undeniably elegant typographical designs are understated, yet extremely powerful, and almost eerie. Among the highlights are: a self-portrait, captured in profile, in which his stare is thoughtful and intense; 'Stay Me With Apples', which perfectly combines the religious and erotic, with the embracing couple wearing halos; 'Lovers, Man Lying', which is even more graphic in its portrayal of ecstatic abandon; and the most haunting image, 'Girl in Bath' a portrait of Gill's daughter, who he was accused of sexually abusing, with her head sunk towards her knees, so that her emotions are obscured, inviting the viewer to contemplate both the workings of her mind and Gill's tarnished legacy. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 28th February.

An 18th Century Enigma: Paul de Lamerie And The Maynard Master reveals the brilliant craftsmanship of the greatest silversmith working in England in the 18th century. Paul de Lamerie, a Huguenot, came to London with his parents, fleeing persecution in France. His success lay not only in his own exceptional creativity in producing stunning objects, but also in his ability as a businessman, retailing some astonishingly spectacular silver, using the most effective and innovative suppliers in the trade. The silver shown in this display is associated with de Lamerie's most brilliant craftsman, whose identity is still a mystery, known simply as the Maynard Master, named after the dish made for Grey, 5th Baron Maynard. The exhibition comprises masterpieces including the lavishly decorated Walpole salver, with engraving attributed to William Hogarth; the Newdigate centrepiece, richly decorated with characteristic Rococo motifs, but also containing elements typical of de Lamerie's work, such as the helmetted putti; a coffee or hot water pot, stand and lamp; a pair of candlesticks, recognisable as the work of the Maynard Master, by the plump cinnamon bun scrolls at the corners, and the large-headed youths on the stems; the Chesterfield wine cooler, with panels chased with the elements Fire, Air, Earth and Water; a lion mask (one of the signature elements of the Maynard Master); and the Maynard Dish itself, the piece that marked the first appearance of the artistic personality responsible for de Lamerie's most ambitious commissions. Victoria & Albert Museum until 9th May.

Wild Thing: Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska, Gill examines how, over a period of 10 years from 1905 to 1915, the radical impact of the work of three young sculptors transformed British sculpture. This is the first time that works by Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Eric Gill have been shown together in this revolutionary context. The exhibition explores the body of work executed by the three sculptors, and draws on the major themes that impressed upon them: sex, fertility, the human condition, the machine age, and the impact of war. The idea of wildness lay at the centre of their revolution, looking far beyond classical art to gain inspiration from what Gaudier-Brzeska called "the barbaric peoples of the earth". The works convey the momentous sense of change taking place in London and the world at the start of the 20th century. The show contains more than 90 works, featuring mainly sculptures, drawings and pastels. With a gallery dedicated to the work of each artist, it focuses on their key achievements, and reveals their impact on British sculpture. The show brings together spectacular works, including Epstein's robotic masterpiece 'Rock Drill'; Gaudier-Brzeska's innovative carving of 'Birds Erect', and the geometric 'Redstone Dancer'; and Gill's controversial carving of the sexual act 'Ecstasy', and the anatomically explicit nude woman 'A Roland for Oliver/Joie de Vivre'. The exhibition also examines the relationships between the three artists and some of their close friends. The Royal Academy of Arts until 24th January.

The Art Of Steampunk explores the phenomenon that creates an imagined sci-fi world and alternative history out of late Victorian invention. The Steampunk concept is described as 'a melding of late 1800s aesthetic with scientific discovery and otherworldly technology'. It is a sort of twist on the work of Jules Verne, H G Wells and Mary Shelley (plus a large slice of Heath Robinson). The exhibition features the work of 18 strangely named 'imagineers' from around the world, with an eclectic mix of exhibits, including computers redesigned by Datamancer from America; brass goggles by Mad Uncle Cliff from Australia; 'The Complete Mechanical Womb' by Molly 'Porkshanks' Friedrich; weird watches by Vianney Halter from Switzerland; 'Beauty Machine', in which a woman suffers the attentions of a robot that has gone beyond the limits of usefulness, by Stephane Halleux from Belgium; a Victorian style 'EyePod' by Dr Grymm; James Richardson-Brown's 'Ambulatory Intercommunication Device', combining bits of plumbing with a mock-ivory cameo; and Kris Kuksi's 'Anglo-Parisian Barnstormer', a mixture of Viking longboat, aeroplane, horse-drawn carriage and Eiffel Tower. The show is divided into two categories: the practical and the fanciful, and it encompasses everything from the dark and eerie, through the humorous, to the sublime. Oxford Museum of the History of Science until 21st February.

Experiments In Colour: Thomas Wardle, William Morris And The Textiles Of India focuses on a remarkable collaboration between a Victorian textile entrepreneur and the leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Together, Thomas Wardle and William Morris experimented with natural dyes and printing techniques, and their interest in colour led them to a joint fascination with the textiles of India. Their shared passion for reviving natural dye techniques involved both historical research and practical experimentation. Wardle travelled extensively in India observing and collecting samples, while Morris studied the collections at the South Kensington (now the Victoria and Albert) Museum. After a long process of trial and error, they succeeded in creating colours of a far superior quality to the chemical dyes being used in 19th century Britain. The exhibition explores the fruits of this partnership, which won both men international renown, and represents a unique moment in the history of British textiles. William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Road, London E17, until 24th January.

Concluding

Frank Auerbach: London Building Sites 1952 - 1962 is the first exhibition to explore the extraordinary group of paintings of post war London building sites by one of Britain's greatest living artists. Fascinated by the rebuilding of London after the Second World War, Frank Auerbach combed the city's numerous building sites with his sketchbook in hand. Back in his studio he worked and reworked each painting over many months, resulting in thickly built up paint surfaces of more than an inch. This exhibition reunites the complete series of 14 building site paintings, together with rarely seen oil sketches, and a number of recently rediscovered sketchbook drawings. Auerbach's subjects included many of the major construction sites of the period, such as the Time and Life Building in Bruton Street, the rebuilding around St Paul's Cathedral, the John Lewis building in Oxford Street, and the Shell Building on the South Bank - London's first 'skyscraper'. Two exceptionally powerful paintings, 'Maples Demolition' and 'Rebuilding the Empire Cinema', mark the end of the series. They epitomise how Auerbach vividly translated chasms of mud and shored-up earth, cranes, scaffolding and the workmen of the building sites, into paintings that capture a powerful sense of the destruction and reconstruction inherent in the redevelopment of London's bomb sites. His heavily worked, thick surfaces, express the material character of the sites, a painted equivalent of the mountains of earth and rubble being excavated and reshaped across the city. Courtauld Gallery, London, until 17th January.

Maharaja: The Splendour Of India's Royal Courts is the first exhibition to comprehensively explore the world of the maharajas or 'great kings' and their rich culture. It spans the period from the beginning of the 18th century to the middle of the 20th century, bringing together over 250 magnificent objects, many being lent from India's royal collections for the first time. The exhibition examines the changing role of the maharajas within a social and historical context, and reveals how their patronage of the arts, both in India and Europe, resulted in splendid and beautiful objects symbolic of royal status, power and identity. Highlights include a life size model elephant adorned with animal jewellery, textiles, and trappings, surmounted by a silver gilt howdah; court paintings, including four portraits from the 1930s by Bernard Boutet de Monvel, depicting the Maharaja and Maharani of Indore; three gaddi (thrones) including the golden throne of Ranjit Singh; a palanquin from Jodhpur, used to carry the Maharaja's wife, containing prints and cushions; photographic portraits of members of royal families by Man Ray, Cecil Beaton and Raja Ravi Varma; gem-encrusted ceremonial weapons; armour belonging to Tipu Sultan of Mysore; elaborate turban jewels; a custom made Rolls Royce; an Anglo-Indian design Spode dinner service; rare archive film of ceremonial events; a carpet of pearls, rubies, emeralds and diamonds made for the Maharaja of Baroda; and the Patiala necklace, the largest commission ever undertaken by Cartier, containing 2,930 diamonds. Victoria & Albert Museum until 17th January.

Pop Life: Art In A Material World takes Andy Warhol's notorious statement that "good business is the best art" as a starting point to examine the legacy of Pop Art. The exhibition looks at the various ways that artists since the 1980s have engaged with mass media and cultivated artistic personas creating their own signature 'brands'. It reveals how they have harnessed the power of the celebrity system, to expand their reach beyond the art world, and into the wider world of commerce, by exploiting channels that engage audiences both inside and outside the gallery. Perpetrators represented include Tracey Emin, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Martin Kippenberger, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince. The show begins with a look at Warhol's late work, and his related initiatives as a television personality, paparazzo, and publishing impresario, including his controversial series 'the Retrospectives or Reversals'. Reprising his celebrated Pop icons from the 1960s, in a manner deemed cynical, the Retrospectives look ahead to installations by a number of artists including Martin Kippenberger and Tracey Emin, who overtly engage the self-mythologizing impulse manipulating their personas as a medium, like silkscreen or paint. The exhibition includes reconstructions of Keith Haring's 'Pop Shop' and Jeff Koons's 'Made in Heaven'. A gallery featuring the 'Young British Artists' focuses on their early performative exploits, including ephemera from Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas's shop in Bethnal Green; Gavin Turk's 'Pop 1993'; and works representing Damien Hirst's recent Sotheby's auction, 'Beautiful Inside My Head Forever', plus a recreation of Hirst's performance piece with identical twins sitting beneath two identical spot paintings for the duration of the exhibition. Tate Modern until 17th January.