News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th June 2012


The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around 1,250 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 11,000 submissions, from 27 countries, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. The majority of works are for sale, offering visitors an opportunity to purchase original artwork by both high profile and up and coming artists. Over £70,000 is given out to artists included in the exhibition through 10 prizes. This year the show has been masterminded by Tess Jaray, with Chris Wilkinson and Eva Jiricna overseeing the architecture section. The Central Hall pays homage to Matisse's 'The Red Studio' with a selection of paintings whose main concern is colour; Gallery 3 features a large quantity of smaller paintings, demonstrating that work of a more modest scale can be as powerful as larger work; and the architecture gallery seeks to blur the boundaries between architecture and the fine arts. Among the artists exhibiting this year are Michael Craig-Martin, Michael Landy, Tracey Emin, Ken Howard, Anselm Kiefer, Raqib Shaw, Calum Innes, Keith Coventry and Jayne Parker. The Royal Academy of Arts until 12th August.

In The Blink Of An Eye: Media And Movement explores our fascination with movement and the desire to record it through photography, film, television and new media. The exhibition reveals how artists, photographers, inventors and scientists have responded to the challenges of capturing and simulating movement, and examines the relationships between art, science, entertainment, sport and historical record. The show offers a unique opportunity for visitors to learn more about how movement has been captured and displayed - from Victorian optical toys like the zoetrope, phenakisoscope and praxinoscope, through the emerging technology of photography, when it became possible to record and analyse the movement of people and animals, to a current state of the art CGI motion-capture suite, plus specially commissioned works by contemporary artists. Classic images by photographers as diverse Harold Edgerton, Eadweard Muybridge, Roger Fenton, Richard Billingham and Oscar Rejlander can be seen alongside historic items of equipment, films and interactive displays. The exhibition also examines how high-speed, time-lapse and time-slice photography have revealed a world invisible to the naked eye. For the newly commissioned pieces, artists Quayola and Memo Akten have made 'Forms', an interactive video installation inspired by Eadweard Muybridge's seminal studies of movement; Bob Levene and Anne-Marie Culhane have created 'Time Frame', an artwork filmed at the UK Olympic training centre in Loughborough; and Jo Lawrence has made 'Barnet Fair', an animation inspired by the theme of the exhibition. National Media Museum, Bradford, until 14th October.

The Horse: From Arabia To Royal Ascot examines Britain's long equestrian tradition from the introduction of the Arabian breed in the 18th century to present day sporting events such as Royal Ascot and the Olympic Games. The exhibition tells the epic story of the horse, a journey of 5,000 years that has revolutionised human history. It focuses on two breeds: Arabians, which were prized in the desert for their spirit and stamina, and the Thoroughbred, which was selectively bred from Arabians for speed and is now raced at world famous courses. Objects on view range from ancient to modern and include depictions of horses in stone reliefs, gold and clay models, horse tack, paintings by George Stubbs, and trophies and rosettes. Highlights from the history of Arabians include one of the earliest known depictions of a horse and rider, a terracotta mould found in Mesopotamia dating to around 2,000 - 1,800 BC; and a Furusiyya manuscript, dating to the 14th century AD, a beautifully illustrated manual of horsemanship, including information on proper care for the horse, advanced riding techniques, expert weapon handling, manoeuvres and elaborate parade formations. Thoroughbreds owe their origin to 3 Arabian stallions imported to Britain in the 18th century, which bred with native mares, produced the breed, now the foundation of modern racing, and from which some 95% of all modern Thoroughbreds are descended, and to Wilfrid Scawan Blunt and Lady Anne Blunt, who travelled widely in the Middle East in the 19th century, and established a celebrated stud for purebred Arabians, at Crabbet Park in Sussex, and another outside Cairo in Egypt. Their remarkable success and their influence on sport and society, from early race meetings through to modern equestrian events is explored in paintings and prints and memorabilia. British Museum until 30th September.


Writing Britain: Wastelands To Wonderlands examines how the landscapes of Britain permeate great literary works. The exhibition allows visitors to read between the lines of great works of English literature, discovering the secrets and stories surrounding the works' creation, shedding new light on how they speak to the country today. Over 150 literary works are featured, ranging from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to Graham Green's Brighton Rock, and Angela Carter's London novel Wise Children. The exhibition includes first editions, original drafts and loans from authors, plus sound recordings, videos, letters, photographs, maps, song lyrics and drawings, as well as manuscripts and printed editions. It provides a rare opportunity to access usually hidden-away treasures, and to glimpse the writer's mind in action, seeing in their own handwriting what they excise, or their method of writing. The exhibition is arranged thematically to reflect our literary geography, mapping out our various landscapes and placing our writers like landmarks within them. The journey begins with Rural Dreams, continuing via the Industrial Muse, Wild Places and Waterlands to Cockney Visions and Beyond the City. Among the highlights are William Blake's notebook, in which he recorded his thoughts while walking the streets of London; Lewis Carroll's diary, recounting a day out on the Thames in which he entertained a young girl called Alice Liddell by inventing "the fairy-tale of Alice's Adventures Under Ground", displayed alongside the very first written version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, featuring his own illustrations; William Wordsworth's handbook on the Lake District; and Oscar Wilde's handwritten manuscript of The Importance of Being Earnest. British Library until 25th September.

The English Prize: The Capture Of The Westmorland, An Episode Of The Grand Tour is a vivid recreation of the Grand Tour and events on the high seas of 18th century Europe. The story of the Westmorland, an armed merchant ship sailing from Livorno to London in January 1779, is one of colourful 18th century personalities and modern detective work. Consigned to the ship, by a cast of characters that included artists, aristocrats and dealers, was a precious cargo of art and antiquities, books, and luxury goods, including 32 wheels of Parmesan cheese. The Westmorland was captured by two French warships on 7th January and declared a 'prize of war'. The majority of the cargo was acquired by King Carlos III of Spain, who presented many of the items to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, while one painting ended up as far away as St Petersburg. Following an extraordinary research project begun in the 1990s in the archives in Madrid, scholars have been able to trace the history and learn the fate of many of the items on board the ship. The exhibition presents over 120 objects that were on the Westmorland when it was captured, including portraits of two of the Grand Tourists by Pompeo Batoni; a group of watercolours by a young John Robert Cozens; and portrait busts by Irish sculptor Christopher Hewetson. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 27th August.

The Noble Art Of The Sword: Fashion And Fencing In Renaissance Europe provides an opportunity to investigate the historical and social development of the ancient art of sword-fighting. The exhibition reveals the untold story of a little known area of Renaissance art, revealing the skilled artistry behind the rapier, at once a weapon, fashion item, and rich jewellery object. It represents the rise of a new and upwardly mobile middle class, 16th century concepts of masculinity and the emergence of the duel of honor. The very best 16th and early 17th century swords can be seen alongside costumes, fencing manuals, beautifully illustrated by artists such as Albrecht Durer, portraits, design books and documents, which help to place the Renaissance rapier in its social and artistic context, and reveal information about the men who owned and used them. During the Renaissance civilian swords were not just weapons, they were works of art. A bewildering variety of decorative techniques went into creating the finest rapiers, fire-gilding, damascening, enamelling, steel-carving and encrusting with precious metals and fine jewels. Among the highlights are the rapier of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II, modelled with unbelievable skill in solid gold, the hilt, glittering with multi-coloured enamel in many bright colours, set onto a deadly Milanese blade of the very best quality; and the rapier of Elector Christian II of Saxony, displayed for the first time alongside its matching doublet and breeches, cut from the finest Italian silk. Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, London W1, until 16th September.

The Queen: Art And Image brings together of some of the most remarkable and resonant images in a wide range of different media across a 60 year reign. Formal painted portraits, official photographs, media pictures and powerful responses by contemporary artists are on show in an exhibition that has both traditional representations and unconventional works, which extend the visual language of royal portraiture. Documenting the changing nature of representations of the Monarch, the exhibition shows how images serve as a lens through which the changing perceptions of royalty can be viewed. It also demonstrates fundamental shifts in the social scene and historical context, highlighting important developments and events, as well as the advent of new technology. This multi-textured view of the period is emphasised by the inclusion, alongside fine art, of material drawn from newspapers, film footage, postage stamps and satirical images. Among the highlights are Annigoni's iconic 1954 portrait together with his very different but no less magisterial 1969 painting, Lucian Freud's 2000 portrait, and Thomas Struth's recent large scale photograph depicting The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. Among other photographers whose images are included are Annie Leibovitz, Dorothy Wilding, Cecil Beaton (the iconic Westminster Abbey Coronation picture) and Chris Levine (the highly unusual photograph of The Queen with her eyes closed). Alongside these there is a rich selection of unofficial portraits from major artists including Gilbert and George, Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter, as well as spontaneous portraits by such photographers as Eve Arnold, Patrick Lichfield and Lord Snowdon. National Portrait Gallery until 21st October.

Edvard Munch: Graphic Works From The Gundersen Collection features masterpieces from an outstanding private collection of prints by the Norwegian artist, never shown before in Britain. The extraordinary collection of lithographs and woodcuts show Munch's pioneering working processes and highlights the integral part that printmaking played within his artistic career. The exhibition comprises some 50 works, primarily dating from the period 1895 to 1902, which feature many of the motifs that Edvard Munch grouped together as a series entitled 'The Frieze of Life' that focused on universal concerns of love, anxiety and death, including a hand coloured version of his best known work 'The Scream'. One of Munch's most significant paintings, 'The Sick Child', based on his sister's death, is one of many works which deal with personal tragedy. Munch later developed the image into a lithograph that he considered to be his most important print, and three different versions are on show side by side in the exhibition. In addition, three examples of the lithograph 'Madonna' show how Munch used colour, both added by hand and in the printing process, to emphasise the drama of his images. An accompanying display draws out the wider European context and signals the depth of influence that Munch had upon artists working across Europe, including paintings and major prints by artists such as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Wassily Kandinsky. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 23rd September.

The Body Adorned: Dressing London looks across time and cultures at the relationships between dress, the body and the emergence of London as a world city. The exhibition considers how the movement of people, objects and ideas have influenced London dress in the past, and explores body adornment in today's capital. It first examines body adornment practices across the world, with some 300 objects that include an Ancestor figure from Papua New Guinea; a shaman figure from North America; early tattooing instruments; a Native American headdress; European folk costumes; and a spectacular Maori ancestor figure. These objects give an insight into the messages dress conveys in these societies, and the role dress plays in magic, religion, warfare, social status, gender, marriage and death. The focus of the exhibition then turns to contemporary London, with film and photography used to consider dress choices in London today, including a video installation by the innovative filmmakers and designers The Light Surgeons, in which people in various parts of London talk about their own and others' dress choices; a display of large scale photographs taken by young people exploring the many ways in which Londoners dress; and an in depth looks at the intimate choices, and even anxieties, of Londoners, as revealed by a multi-faith wedding wardrobe, a sharp suited business woman, and the mysteries of a teenage bedroom. Horniman Museum, London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23, until 6th January.


Treasures Of The Royal Society features some of the most remarkable treasures from 350 years of book collecting. Among the rare and priceless publications are: John Graunt's 'Natural and Political Observations...upon the Bills of Mortality', a pioneering work on medical statistics that provides a unique insight into what London life - and death - were like in the 17th century; Isaac Newton's handwritten corrections to his 'Principia', setting out his laws of motion, universal gravitation, and planetary motion, one of the most significant scientific works ever published; the first edition of Charles Darwin's 'Origin of Species', which sparked a revolution in the way humans understood themselves and the natural world; rarely seen anatomical engravings by Albrecht Durer, the first to apply the science of human proportion to aesthetics; Galileo's revolutionary 'Starry Messenger', the first book to describe the results of astronomical observations made through a telescope, describing craters and mountains on the moon, clearly shown in several engraved illustrations; William Gilbert's 'Tractatus de Magnete', a groundbreaking book on magnetism that explained by means of experiments and observations his theory of the earth as a giant magnet with two poles; Charles Lyell's 'Principles of Geology' which argued that geology can be explained by the action of modern causes such as volcanoes, earthquakes and erosion, and that the biblical narratives of the creation and flood should not be taken literally; and Robert Hooke's 'Micrographia', the first illustrated book of microscopic observations, containing the first use of the word 'cell' to describe the tiny pores in a sliver of cork. The Royal Society, Carlton House Terrace, London, until 21st June.

Brains: The Mind As Matter explores what humans have done to brains in the name of medical intervention, scientific enquiry, cultural meaning and technological change. Featuring more than 150 objects, including real brains, artworks, manuscripts, artefacts, videos and photography, the exhibition follows the long quest to manipulate and decipher the most unique and mysterious of human organs, whose secrets continue to confound and inspire. It asks not what brains do for us, but what we have done to brains. Famous and infamous brain specimens are on display, including those of Albert Einstein, Charles Babbage and William Burke, as are the thoughts on brains from the brains of famous thinkers, together with donors, surgeons, patients and collectors. The exhibition has four sections: Measuring/Classifying introduces efforts to define the relationship between the brain's function and form - from Bernard Hollander's cranial measuring system to the tools of phrenology, the skewed morality of these pseudo-sciences illustrates the measuring of brains as a measure of culture; Mapping/Modelling follows the attempts to represent the anatomy of the brain - from early visualisations by Reisch, Vesalius and Descartes in the 16th and 17th centuries to the kaleidoscopic Brainbow images of nerve cells, and the artistic drive to apprehend the complexities of the brain with the increasing philosophical and medical understanding of its centrality to our being; Cutting/Treating explores the history of surgical intervention on a form of human tissue that is uniquely swift to decay and difficult to dissect - from crude trephination kits to complex 3D imaging systems revealing the human stories behind the anatomy of brains; and Giving/Taking traces the stories of brain harvesting and the variety of its purpose - from the horrors of Nazi experimentation to the hope offered by research into neurodegenerative disorders by brain banks. Wellcome Collection, London until 17th June.

Dickens And London celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Britain's most successful novelist. Recreating the atmosphere of Victorian London through sound and projections, the exhibition takes visitors on a haunting journey to discover the city that inspired Dickens's writings. Paintings, photographs, costume and objects illustrate themes that Dickens wove into his works, while rarely seen manuscripts including Bleak House and David Copperfield - written in the author's own hand - offer clues to his creative genius. The exhibition reveals how Dickens's childhood experiences of London, working in a blacking factory while his father was locked away in a debtor's prison, were introduced into the stories he wrote. The great social questions of the 19th century, including wealth and poverty, prostitution, childhood mortality and philanthropy, are also examined, all of which set the scene for Dickens's greatest works. The exhibition covers Dickens's childhood and home life, the theatre, industrialisation, criminal justice and death. Highlights include an audio-visual experience bringing to life Robert William Buss's unfinished painting 'Dickens's Dream', portraying Dickens asleep in a chair surrounded by the characters he created, with the actual desk and chair where he wrote his novels; and a specially commissioned film by the documentary maker William Raban, which explores the similarities between London after dark today and the night time city in Victorian times, to a soundtrack of Dickens's essay Night Walks. Museum of London, until 10th June.