News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th April 2011


The Cult Of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860 - 1900 celebrates the first artistic movement to inspire an entire lifestyle, prizing the importance of art and the pleasure of beautiful things above all else. Comprising over 250 objects, this exhibition gathers many of the greatest masterpieces in painting together with sculpture, design, furniture and architecture, as well as fashion and literature of the era. Aestheticism was a British movement born as a reaction to the art and ideas of the Victorian establishment. The display traces its development from the romantic bohemianism of a small avant-garde circle in the 1860s to a cultural phenomenon. The style was characterised by a widespread use of motifs such as the lily, the sunflower and the peacock feather, drawing on sources as diverse as Ancient Greek art and modern day Japan, which had just been opened up to the West. Aestheticism created an unprecedented public fascination in the lives of artists, and the exhibition explores the dazzling array of personalities in the group, including William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Oscar Wilde. The clear artistic ideal that emerged from the confusion of styles in the mid 19th century was the 'cult of beauty' that brought together the Pre-Raphaelite bohemians like Dante Gabriel Rossetti, maverick figures such as James McNeill Whistler, and the painters of grand, classical subjects like Frederic Leighton and G F Watts. These painters created an entirely new type of beauty, where mood, colour and harmony were more important than the subject. The public became mesmerised by the extravagant dress and the homes or 'Palaces of Art' of figures like Leighton and Lawrence Alma-Tadema. The exquisite interiors and collections within these houses inspired aristocrats, intellectuals and entrepreneurs across the country to reproduce a similar style in their own homes. A number of setpieces within the exhibition evoke interiors of the day, such as the celebrated Grosvenor Gallery exhibition, Whistler's Peacock Room and Rossetti's bedroom in Chelsea. Victoria & Albert Museum until 17th July.

Love Me: Zed Nelson is a reflection on the cultural and commercial forces that drive a global obsession with youth and beauty. Over a period of 5 years photographer Zed Nelson visited 18 countries across 5 continents, photographing cosmetic surgeons, beauty queens and bodybuilders, alongside everyday teenagers, housewives and businessmen. This extensive cross-cultural investigation encompasses an annual prison beauty contest in a South American penitentiary, Iranians queuing for nose jobs in Tehran, and female staff at a Russian nuclear agency competing for the title of 'Miss Atom'. The project explores a new form of globalisation, where an increasingly narrow Western beauty ideal is being exported around the world like a universal brand. Whilst Nelson's subjects appear willing participants in an omnipresent culture of bodily improvement, they might equally be considered hapless victims - at the mercy of larger social forces and locked into an insatiable craving for approval. With deadpan full-frontal poses and no-thrills documentary compositions, Nelson portrays the bloated, sun-scorched anatomies of bodybuilders and the stretched-faced fish pouts of willing victims of cosmetic surgery. The evidence he presents supports the argument that this drastic striving for perfection mostly results in the grotesque. Impressions Gallery, Bradford, until 29th May.

Dirt: The Filthy Reality Of Everyday Life travels across centuries and continents to explore our ambivalent relationship with dirt. Bringing together around 200 objects, spanning visual art, documentary photography, cultural ephemera, scientific artefacts, film and literature, the exhibition uncovers a rich history of disgust and delight in the grimy truths and dirty secrets of our past. In addition, it points to the uncertain future of filth, which poses a significant risk to our health but is also vital to our existence. The exhibition introduces six very different places as a starting point for examining attitudes towards dirt and cleanliness: a home in 17th century Delft in Holland, exploring the widely celebrated and satirised Dutch obsession with cleanliness; a street in Victorian London, with the mudlarks, ragpickers and dustmen and women whose meagre living depended on the dirt and detritus of the city; a hospital in Glasgow in the 1860s, where Joseph Lister's regime of cleanliness marked the birth of antiseptic surgery; a museum in Dresden in the early 20th century, whose theories were co-opted into the ideological horrors of racial purity and ethnic cleansing by the Nazis; a community in present day New Delhi, where survival by manual scavenging and the clearing of human waste persists; and the ongoing 30 year project to transform New York's Fresh Kills, once the largest landfill in the world, into a public park. Highlights of the display include paintings by Pieter de Hooch; the earliest sketches of bacteria; John Snow's "ghost map" of cholera; beautifully crafted blue delftware; Joseph Lister's scientific paraphernalia; and a wide range of contemporary art, from Igor Eskinja's dust carpet, Susan Collis bejewelled broom and James Croak's dirt window, to video pieces by Bruce Nauman and Mierle Ukeles, plus a specially commissioned work by Serena Korda. Wellcome Collection, London, until 31st August.


James Watt And Our World is a recreation of the attic workshop of the founder of the British Industrial Revolution. When James Watt died in 1819 his workshop at his home near Birmingham was locked and its contents left undisturbed as an 'industrial shrine'. In 1924, the complete workshop, including its door, window, skylight, floorboards and 6,500 objects used or created by Watt, were carefully removed. Although the workshop has previously been displayed, visitors have never been invited inside until now. The vast majority of its contents, once hidden within drawers, on shelves and under piles of tools and papers can now be closely inspected. Watt's workshop is packed with a bewildering array of objects including the world's oldest circular saw, parts for flutes and violins he was making, and even the oldest surviving pieces of sandpaper. The display also includes a roller press developed by Watt to copy letters, a forerunner of the photocopier, and a device used to mint and standardise the size of coins for the first time, developed for the Royal Mint. One of the key objects in the exhibition is Watt's original 1765 model for the first separate condenser - in effect the greatest single improvement to the steam engine ever made. This unassuming brass cylinder, thought to be one of the most significant objects in engineering history, was only discovered in the 1960s, lying under Watt's workbench. The workshop is accompanied by a new gallery of previously unseen objects, photographs and drawings, presenting a portrait of the working life, ingenuity and character of the first mechanical engineer to be propelled to international fame. Watt was perhaps the first scientific entrepreneur, adept at 'turning science into money' and using his skills to generate wealth in a longstanding partnership with business entrepreneur Matthew Boulton. Science Museum, continuing.

Faces In The Crowd: Joseph Wright And Friends In Georgian Derbyshire combines the portraits of the great and the good with period local landscapes to create a picture of Georgian Derbyshire. Central to the exhibition are 8 paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby, the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution. These paintings, which are taking a holiday while their permanent home in Derby is undergoing refurbishment, include Wright's best known work, 'A Philosopher giving that Lecture on the Orrery, in which a Lamp is Put in Place of the Sun', 'The Alchymist' and 'The Blacksmith's Shop'. Other faces in the exhibition include portraits of Erasmus Darwin, the first Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed, the Fifth Duke of Devonshire, the engineer James Brindley, and the glee singers of Tideswell, plus Francis Parsons's pencil drawing, preparatory to the engraving, of master canal builder James Brindley of Wormhill. The accompanying local landscapes include William Marlow's 'A View of Matlock Bath', Joseph Clayton Bentley's watercolour 'On the Derwent', John Bluck's 'Views of Matlock Bath', and C F Buckley's 'Ferry Boat over the Derwent'. Buxton Museum and Art Gallery until 31st May.

Ida Kar: Bohemian Photographer 1908 - 1974 is the first exhibition for 50 years devoted to the work of the woman photographer at the heart of the creative avant-garde. The display of almost 100 photographs by Ida Kar offers a fascinating insight into the cultural life of post Second World War Britain, and an opportunity to see both iconic works, and others not previously exhibited. It charts Kar's life and career from her first studio in Cairo in the late 1930s through her move to London in 1945, where she was introduced to the British art world through the family of Jacob Epstein and her husband Victor Musgrave. The exhibition includes striking portraits of artists such as Henry Moore, Georges Braque, Gino Severini, Feliks Topolski, Stanley Spencer, Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray, Le Corbusier, Barbara Hepworth and Bridget Riley, and writers such as Iris Murdoch, Jean-Paul Sartre, Doris Lessing, Colin MacInnes and T S Eliot. Among the portraits on display for the first time are of artist Yves Klein, shown at his first highly controversial London exhibition in 1957 in front of one of his famous monochrome works, in the distinctive blue-colour he was later to patent as his own; the 'art strike' artist and political activist Gustav Metzge, taken at an exhibition entitled 'Festival of Misfits'; and Royston Ellis, a poet and friend of John Lennon who inspired the song 'Paperback Writer'. Kar was instrumental in encouraging the acceptance of photography as a fine art when, in 1960, she became the first photographer to be honoured with a major retrospective in London, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Other material on display from the photographer's archive includes letters, a sitters' book and a portfolio book made in 1954 of her trip to the artists' studios of Paris. National Portrait Gallery until 19th June.

Watteau: The Drawings is the first major retrospective of drawings by the influential 18th century French artist. Drawing lay at the heart of Jean-Antoine Watteau's creative process. He prized his drawings and kept them in bound volumes which enabled him to refer to them when composing his paintings, as they were an essential source of inspiration for figure poses. Although Watteau worked in red chalk throughout his career, represented here by 'The Shipwreck' and 'Interior of a Draper's Shop', he is best known for his 'trois crayons' technique, the subtle manipulation and expert balancing of red, black and white. This exhibition of some 80 drawings demonstrates the breadth of Watteau's oeuvre and his lightness of touch, including 'fetes galantes', the genre he invented, which depicted social gatherings of elegant people in parkland settings. Watteau made drawings of figures in poses that were charming, ambiguous and natural. The subjects depicted in his drawings varied enormously from the joyous spirit of fantasy as depicted in 'Woman on a Swing, Seen from the Back', to his theatrical works inspired by the commedia dell'arte, 'Two studies of Mezzetin and a Pierrot', to the highly exotic, portrayed in works such as 'Seated Persian Wearing a Turban', and to the itinerant, 'Standing Savoyard'. Watteau is renowned as a painter, and although he executed drawings initially for their own sake, he reproduced many of his drawn figures in his paintings. The figure of a 'Woman on a Swing, Seen from the Back', features in his oil on canvas 'The Shepherds'. Watteau's influence was profound, pre-empting the spirit of the French Rococo and foreshadowing the work of the Impressionists in execution and treatment of colour. His work both as a draughtsman and as a painter influenced subsequent generations of French artists, notably Francois Boucher and Jean-Honore Fragonard. Royal Academy of Arts until 5th June.

Esprit et Verite: Watteau And His Circle is actually two exhibitions in one, celebrating Watteau, the artist who changed the course of French painting by introducing a particular kind of eroticism, and Jean de Jullienne, his publisher, and one of France's most significant art collectors. The relationship between Watteau and Jean de Jullienne represents a key moment in the development of French 18th century painting and patronage. The exhibition combines a display of 10 of the most important Watteau paintings in the world, spanning almost his entire career, including 'A Lady at her Toilet', 'Les Champs Elysees', 'Les charmes de la vie', Voulez-vous triompher des belles' and 'Sous un habit de Mezzetin', with significant masterworks of the 17th and 18th centuries drawn from the collection of Jean de Jullienne, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Wouwermans, Netscher, Bourdon, Greuze, Rosa and Vernet. Jean de Jullienne is famous for his role as editor of and dealer in Watteau's work, but a unique illustrated inventory of his collection from 1756, on public display here for the first time, demonstrates the breadth of his tastes. The Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, London W1, until 5th June.

Alice In Wonderland Treasures provides an opportunity to see rare first and second editions of the legendary Alice books, together with other Lewis Carroll associated artefacts and memorabilia. When Alice's Adventures In Wonderland was first published in 1865 the author Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) received a complaint about the quality of the printing from John Tenniel who had supplied the illustrations, so the first issue was withdrawn and a second one commissioned. As a result, copies of the first issue are extremely rare, but this exhibition includes a copy in the original red cloth binding. In addition, there are a number of editions of both Alice books, with illustrations by Arthur Rackham, Alice Ross, Charles Robinson and Gwynedd M Hudson, together with other works by Lewis Carrol. Among the other highlights are a presentation copy Alice's Adventures In Wonderland showing a poem written by the author for the actress Marion Terry; a first edition of Through The Looking-glass, And What Alice Found There signed by the original Alice, Alice Pleasance Hargreaves (nee Liddel); an 1893 advertisement apologising for the printing of the illustrations in the latest issue of Through The Looking-glass and requesting holders of copies to return them for exchange; a letter from Dodgson appealing against the inclusion of his name and pseudonym in Halkett and Laing's 'A dictionary of anonymous and pseudonymous literature of Great Britain'; and 'The Wonderland postage-stamp-case' and 'The game of logic', both invented by Dodgson. National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 2nd May.


Land Ladies: Women And Farming In England, 1900 - 1945 reveals the often overlooked story of women in British farming in the first half of the 20th century. Scientific innovation, technological change, and mechanisation in the late Victorian period have helped to create the impression that farming was a 'manly' business, but women have always worked in farming. This exhibition examines the work undertaken by women in the fields, farmhouses, and farmyards of England from 1900 until the end of the Second World War. The focus is on the different branches of agricultural production where women were employed, including dairying, poultry, and horticulture, as well as examining the growth of education and training for women in these areas. It shows how organisations such as the Women's Farm and Garden Association and the Women's Institute helped to promote farm work for women and protect the rights of those women who worked on the land. The exhibition comprises an array of objects from original Women's Land Army uniforms to domestic butter and cheese-making appliances, industrial produce machinery to basketry, and WI banners to egg transport boxes, together with an extensive photographic archive, showing the reality of farming: dirty, unglamorous and very hard work. The Museum Of English Rural Life, University of Reading, until 19th April.

An Englishman In New York: Photographs By Jason Bell features a series of previously unseen portraits inspired by the 120,000 British men and women currently living in New York City. Jason Bell has lived between London and New York since 2003, and whilst shooting an assignment for American Vogue about anglophilia with English models in an English tearoom, he became interested in investigating the English people resident in the city. He went on to identify and photograph a cross-section of the leading British born figures living in New York, in locations appropriate to them. The 20 portraits on display include Thomas P Campbell, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; writer Zoe Heller, on her stoop in Tribeca; artist Cecily Brown in her Flat Iron studio; Nicola Perry in her Tea and Sympathy teashop; lingerie designer Jana Kennedy in her cramped apartment workroom; musician Sting in Central Park; director Stephen Daldry in front of the theatre where Billy Elliott is playing; journalist and television presenter Tom Brook in Times Square; actress Kate Winslet on her roof terrace; model Lily Donaldson in Tomkins Square Park; Simon Noonan, Barney's window dresser and television pundit in a window display; Vanity Fair contributing editor Vicky Ward sunbathing in Hudson River Park; Sean Kavanagh-Dowsett in his A Salt & Battery fish and chip shop; and historian Simon Schama at the Columbia University subway station; plus the less well known helicopter pilot, spray tanner, deep-sea diver, detective, plumber, cab driver and rat-catcher. National Portrait Gallery until 17th April.

Psychoanalysis: The Unconscious In Everyday Life explores the workings of the unconscious mind, and the contribution of psychoanalysis to the understanding of the mind and culture. The exhibition aims to examine the broad contemporary relevance of psychoanalysis in a way that is accessible to a wide audience. It focuses on a key concept of psychoanalysis: how the unconscious can be interpreted through everyday experiences, and in artefacts, both historical and contemporary. This is done through a range of modern and historical objects, contemporary artworks and digital animation. Notable objects include: a selection of Sigmund Freud's personal collection of Ancient Greek and Roman antiquities, which surrounded the psychoanalyst in his consulting room; body casts of masks, feet, eyes and phalluses from the museum's collection that are not usually on public view; a selection of drawings from one of the most famous case studies by Melanie Klein, the pioneer of child analysis, which have never been on public display before; an array of everyday things old and new, whose hidden associations and unconscious meanings are unravelled by the voices of leading psychoanalysts; and artworks by contemporary artists Arnold Dreyblatt, Mona Hatoum, Joseph Kosuth, Grayson Perry,Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Carlo Zanni, Sonny Sanjay Vadgama, Kristian de la Riva, Amelie von Harrach and Damian Le Sueur, which take inspiration from psychoanalytical ideas. Science Museum until 15th April.