News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th February 2008


Juan Munoz: A Retrospective is an assessment of the work of the Spanish artist who came to international prominence in the mid 1980s with dramatic sculptural installations that placed the human figure in specific architectural environments, and who is now widely regarded as of one of the foremost contemporary sculpture and installation artists. The exhibition comprises over 90 works, including several previously unseen pieces, alongside Munoz's signature sculptures and installations, series of drawings, and collaborative sound and performance pieces. Munoz's reputation was built on his ability to create tension between the illusory and real, the contrasting acts of looking and receiving, and the poignant isolation of the individual among a group or crowd. His installations are both dramatic and theatrical, using scale and perspective to inflect the viewer's encounter with the work. Among the highlights are 'If Only She Knew', an iron house-like structure raised on skinny supports and containing a carved stone female figure surrounded by several wooden male figures seemingly trapped under a peaked roof; 'The Persian carpet of Minaret for Otto Kurz', a welded iron structure placed on a carpet looking like a map of a city; 'Many Times' comprising 100 figures, identically dressed and with similar Asian features, forming a dense crowd; 'Seated Figures with Five Drums', a group wholly engaged with each other and with their drums; 'Shadow and Mouth' two figures creating a sinister atmosphere, reminiscent of a film noir scenario; some of the 'Raincoat Drawings' series, made with chalk and ink on blackened gabardine-raincoat fabric, portraying sparsely furnished rooms, often including glimpses of doorways leading to similarly desolate spaces; and a number of sound-based works made in collaboration with composer Gavin Bryars, novelist and art historian John Berger and musician Alberto Iglesias. Tate Modern until 27th April.

Small Worlds - The Art Of The Invisible combines the worlds of art and science, displaying a selection from the contents of a cabinet of over 10,000 late 19th and early 20th century microscopic specimens slides. However, seeing the slides does not involve peering down a microscope, as the exhibition is a representation of the collection in art and poetry. Artist Heather Barnett, who specialises in exploring the intersection between contemporary art, science and technology, has worked in collaboration with performance poet Will Holloway, to create a site specific body of work in image, film, animation and poetry, in a strikingly designed immersive exhibition environment, including microbe-patterned wallpaper and curtains, drawings and photographs, and dynamic audio poems and animations. The slides were collected between 1860 and 1930, at a time when microscopy was a fashionable hobby. The specimens include not only classic material such as fungi, plant parts, human and animal tissue samples, minerals, and insects, but also less usual samples, such as a miniaturised photo of a hunting expedition. Many are displayed in gilt and wooden frames, evoking the spirit of microscopy in Victorian and Edwardian times. Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, until 6th April.

Robert Dighton: Georgian Caricaturist, Actor And Thief offers an insight into life and times of this colourful Georgian character, and is a reminder of the work of one of the most talented social caricaturists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Dighton was quite a character himself, for a time conducting a career as an actor at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and Sadler's Wells, whilst at the same time training and exhibiting at the Royal Academy. He eventually settled to being an artist, drawing master and printseller, producing caricatures of the 'types' of the day, and humorous prints or 'drolls', which he sold in his shop in Charing Cross. In 1806 he achieved notoriety when it was discovered he had been quietly stealing prints from the British Museum and selling them over a period of several years. The exhibition features 80 original caricatures of both celebrities and nonentities, the rich and the poor, capturing the spirit of Georgian London. Among Dighton's subjects are Bill Richmond, the black American boxer, innkeeper and promoter; James Christie, founder of the famous auction house; James Bellingham, who assassinated the Prime Minister Spencer Percival; and Martha Gunn, who supplied bathing machines and prostitutes to the upper classes on their visits to fashionable Brighton. Dighton also drew tailors, actors, academics and the down-at-heel types who thronged the street corners of Georgian London. The exhibition includes some examples of work by his sons and grandsons who carried on the tradition of caricature. Cartoon Museum, London, until 20th April.


The Return Of The Gods: Neoclassical Sculpture is the first exhibition in Britain to focus the full range of British neoclassical sculpture. It brings together around 30 major figurative works created by British artists or for British patrons from around 1760 to 1860. These extraordinary marble pieces were designed to astonish and captivate, as artists exploited previously unexplored subjects, taken from classical mythology, literature, and ancient and modern history, in order to depict the nude with unprecedented freedom, vitality and sensuality. Artists created emotional figure groups and scenes, and portrayed contemporary people in new ways - their faces and hairstyles, poses and expressions reflecting the idealism and purity of the style. From the grace of Canova's 'The Three Graces' to the dramatic vigour of Thomas Banks's 'The Falling Titan', the human figure, transformed and idealised in white marble, was the essence of this sculpture. Observation of the body, realisation of soft flesh in permanent and beautiful stone, inspired by and transcending classical models from Ancient Rome and Greece, led to the creation of these outstanding masterpieces of figurative sculpture. Other works on display include Thomas Banks's 'Thetis Dipping Achilles into the Styx', John Gibson's 'Hylas Surprised by the Naiades', Nollekens's 'Venus Chiding Cupid and Mercury' and Thorvaldsen's 'Three Graces'. The exhibition also includes an example of antique sculpture, restored in the 18th century, which contrasts with the neoclassical pieces, while highlighting the origins of the style. Tate Britain until 8th June.

Marcel Broodthaers is the most comprehensive exhibition of work by the renowned Belgian artist to be seen in Britain for nearly 30 years. Marcel Broodthaers was a poet, photographer, film maker and artist, and throughout his career challenged the role of the artwork, the artist and the art institution. Considered to be one of the most important artists of the last century, Broodthaers' work and thinking is highly influential on many artists working today. His art lay in the evocative cross associations set up by combining disparate objects, texts and drawings, in ways that made the mundane mysterious. This exhibition explores the diversity of Broodthaers' practice including books, editions, objects, 'assemblage sculptures', projections and paintings. It features several works never seen in the UK before, including his first artwork, 'Pense Bete', which addresses his enduring concerns about form and language and the construction of meaning. The highlight of the show is 'Miroir d'Epoque Regency', comprised of twelve different 'sections', founded with the 19th century section in his Brussels house. The mirror reflects the gallery and viewer back on themselves, questioning the role of the institution and the visitor within it. The exhibition also includes examples of his renowned shell works - mussels and eggs - as in 'Grande Casserole de Moules', and '289 Coquilles d'Oeufs'. The egg and mussel shell became a recurrent symbol in Broodthaers's work as a means of questioning the social function of the artwork - as Broodthaers announced "Everything is eggs. The world is eggs". (Funny, I thought that was Patricia Hayes in the 1950s Tony Hancock egg commercials.) Milton Keynes Gallery until 30th March.

Laughing In A Foreign Language explores the role of laughter and humour in contemporary art (something you might consider to be either inadvertent or conspicuous by its absence). In a time of increasing globalisation, this international exhibition questions if humour can only be appreciated by people with similar cultural, political or historical backgrounds and memories, or whether laughter can act as a catalyst for understanding what you are not familiar with. The exhibition encompasses the whole spectrum of humour, from jokes, gags and slapstick to irony, wit and satire, by bringing together more than 70 videos, photographs and interactive installation works by contemporary artists from around the world, some well known, some less so. The questions are: is the art funny? and are the jokes art? Judge for yourself if humour is universal - and if these artists have a sense of it. The works featured are by Makoto Aida, Kutlug Ataman, Azorro, Guy Ben-Ner, John Bock, Candice Breitz, Olaf Breuning, Cao Fei, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Marcus Coates, Harry Dodge and Stanya Khan, Doug Fishbone, Ghazel, Gimhongsok, Matthew Griffin, Nina Jan Beier and Marie Jan Lund, Taiyo Kimura, Peter Land, Janne Lehtinen, Kalup Linzy, Yoshua Okon, Ugo Rondinone, Julian Rosefeldt, Shimabuku, David Shrigley, Nedko Solakov, Barthelemy Toguo, Roi Vaara, Martin Walde, Jun Yang. Hayward Gallery until 13th April.

From Russia: French And Russian Master Paintings 1870 - 1925 provides a unique opportunity to explore the exchange that existed between French and Russian art during a crucial period that was witness to upheaval and revolution. The exhibition is grouped by four themes. The first features works by French and Russian realists, focusing on Russian landscape, contemporary social issues, and scenes from traditional peasant life, by Ilya Repin, Ivan Kramskoy, Isaak Levitan, Valentin Serov and Mikhail Nesterov, together with paintings by French artists Theodore Rousseau, Charles Daubigny, Jean-Francois Millet, Jules Bastien-Lepage and Albert Besnard. The second displays masterpieces from the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections of Ivan Morosov and Sergei Shchukin, including Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, van Gogh, Gauguin and Picasso, and features one of the highlights of the show, Matisse's 'The Dance', which was commissioned by Shchukin. The third is devoted to the theatrical impresario and exhibition maker Sergei Diaghilev, with works by Alexander Benois, Leon Bakst, Boris Kustodiev, Nochiolas Roerich, Alexander Golovin and Valentin Serov. The fourth features Modernism and the cross-currents between Russian and French art: Wasily Kandinsky who combined the imagery of Russian fairy tales and Fauvist colour; Marc Chagall who adapted elements of French Cubism to a distillation of Russian-Jewish folklore; Cubo-Futurist works by artists such as Natalia Goncharova; and Suprematism, the radical, purely abstract style pioneered by Kazimir Malevich. Royal Academy of Arts, 26th January to 18th April.

Joanna Kane: The Somnambulists - Photographic Portraits From Before Photography consists of a haunting series of photographic portraits taken from a famous Edinburgh collection of life and death masks. In the early 19th century it was common to have these masks made - a direct 3D imprint of the face of a person at the time of their death, and sometines in life of 'swoonings' or trances - as part of a romantic fixation with death. Using contemporary digital techniques, Joanna Kane has reached into the past to bring figures from Scottish history to life. Animating her portraits to suggest an illusory sense of the living subject of the cast, Kane magically renders photographic likenesses from before the age of photography. The exhibition poses questions about portraiture, the history and origins of photography, connections between photography and the life or death mask, and the influences of phrenology on art. The images are shown alongside examples of actual life and death masks from the collection of the Edinburgh Phrenological Society. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, until 6th April.

Breaking the Rules - The Printed Face Of The European Avant Garde 1900 - 1937 explores the creative transformation that took place in Europe during the first four decades of the 20th century - a revolution that encompassed visual art, design, photography, literature, theatre, music and architecture. Between 1900 and 1937 the avant garde consisted of a series of overlapping movements, such as Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Dadaism, Constructivism and Surrealism. Because of its very nature, the avant garde was denied traditional modes of communication and exhibition, so participants became adept at finding alternative outlets, publishing their own manifestos, poetry, magazines and books, and creating new genres, such as the artist's book and the photo-book. These frequently employed innovative design and typography, still influential today. Such groups were often synonymous with specific magazines and this period was the last one in which the printed format was the primary mode for communicating information; film and broadcasting were ready to take over. This exhibition focuses on the printed work of avant-garde participants, demonstrating its importance to the various groups, and the way in which printed works helped to disseminate information and ideas internationally. The British Library, until 30th March.


Renaissance Siena: Art For A City presents a different angle on Italian Renaissance painting and sculpture, viewing it in the artistic, cultural and political contexts of the last century of the Sienese Republic. The exhibition brings together around 100 objects, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, manuscripts and ceramics, covering a period from about 1460 to 1530. It demonstrates the distinct qualities of Sienese painting, drawing and sculpture, adding up to an elegant, expressive and visionary style of art, formed during a period of power shifts within the city itself. Because their work did not fit comfortably into Florentine inspired ideas of what the Renaissance should look like, even the greatest Sienese artists of this period, such as Francesco di Giorgio, Domenico Beccafumi, Benvenuto di Giovanni, Matteo di Giovanni, Luca Signorelli, Neroccio de' Landi and Pintoricchio, remained little known outside the Republic. Here they are revealed to be very much the equals of the Florentines. Highlights include Matteo di Giovanni's 'Assumption' altarpiece from the Asciano, with all three parts reunited for the first time in centuries; Di Giorgio's sculpture 'Male Nude with a Snake' (Aesculapius, the god of medicine) and painting 'Saint Dorothy and the Infant Christ'; a series of ancient heroes and heroines originally painted for a noble marriage by all the leading painters of the 1490s, brought together again from all over the world; and a group of works by Beccafumi, which originally hung in a palace bedchamber of one of Siena's leading citizens, reunited for the first time since 1600. National Gallery until 17th February.

Art Of Light: German Renaissance Stained Glass sets out to demonstrate that the best stained glass from the Renaissance period fully reflected, and even rivalled, the latest developments in painting, while exploiting to the full the vibrant properties of light. The exhibition brings together a group of some of the finest examples of 15th and early 16th century German stained glass, and juxtaposes them with a selection of paintings from the same period and from the same regions of Germany, along with some surviving examples of designs for stained glass. Many of these paintings originally hung in ecclesiastical settings, which frequently also included brilliantly coloured, boldly designed and exquisitely made stained glass windows. German stained glass of this period made use of the same imagery as painting, showed similar visual innovations and, increasingly, the designers of stained glass windows were also painters of panel pictures. There is a special focus, including prints, drawings, paintings and glass, on three artists who designed for stained glass as well as creating paintings: Albrecht Durer, Hans Baldung Grien and Jorg Breu. The exhibition culminates in a full scale recreation of one of the multi-scened glass panels from the Abbey of Mariawald. One of the greatest achievements of the glass painters of the early 16th century, the panels reveal the full range of the art of this period, including exceptionally beautiful landscape depictions. National Gallery until 17th February.

Bauhaus 1919 - 1933 focuses on the step-change in art and design history that was brought about by the most important school of art, architecture and design of the 20th century. Bauhaus evolved a new language of art and design that was abstract and dynamic, and liberated from historicism. Its aim was to give modernity a precise physical form, embracing all branches of design, and to bridge the gap between art and industry. The exhibition comprises a selection of major exhibits by leading members of the Bauhaus movement, including the original manifesto designed by Lyonel Feininger and written by the architect Walter Gropius, examples of work by founding teachers of the Bauhaus, including Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Itten, Oskar Schlemmer, Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Josef Albers, selected film works by Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, architectural models, design, applied art, furniture, utensils and specially commissioned wall drawings. In addition, a series of photographic works by Hans Engels show a number of well known and surprising examples of Bauhaus architecture in their present condition. Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art until 17th February.