Private View held by Richard Andrews
Sixties Graphics celebrates the huge explosion of talent in London in the mid 1960s, the era of Swinging London, with a display of graphic material including posters, magazines, photographs, album covers and other printed ephemera such as badges, from 1965 to 1972. Graphic work for now rare ephemeral publications, such as Oz and International Times, charts the emergence of 'counter-culture', the 'underground press' and the full flowering of Psychedelia, revealing the mix of idealism and visual experimentation that characterised the period. On show are key works by Peter Blake, and many of the most celebrated posters by artists Nigel Waymouth and Michael English (who worked together as Hapshash and the Coloured Coat), Martin Sharp and others, together with iconic images of music heroes of the day, such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Also included are graphics for 'underground' gatherings, together with colourful posters advertising the legendary music and light events at clubs such as UFO and Middle Earth. Many highlights of the exhibition come from the exceptional collection formed by Barry Miles, a key figure in the 1960s and founder of Indica Bookshop, the unofficial headquarters of the London alternative scene. The display documents some of the most important artistic, cultural and social aspects of this vibrant, though recently maligned, era. Victoria & Albert Museum until 12th November.
Blackpool Illuminations have extended the holiday season and entertained visitors to the seaside town since 1879, when 8 plain electric arc lamps bathed the Promenade in what was described as 'artificial sunshine'. While the basic idea remains the same, the style and scale of Blackpool's end of season electrical extravaganza have little in common with that first experiment in lighting. Traditional lamps are still used, but now alongside the newest technology such as lasers, fibre-optics, low-voltage neon and even real fire and water. The show now costs £2.4m to stage, and stretches for six miles of spectacular colour, light and movement. Among featured tableaux in this year's free show are Postman Pat and dinosaurs. Visitors can become part of the display, as they travel along the Promenade aboard a tram dressed up by lights as a wild west train, ocean liner or space rocket, from 8pm to midnight most nights.
The Festival Of Light is an accompanying programme of events and contemporary light installations. These include the 'Artificial Sunshine - The Story Of The Illuminations' exhibition, where visitors can get up close to working illuminations, and see original drawings and diagrams dating back to the 1930's; Michael Trainor's giant mirror ball installation 'They Shoot Horses Don't They?' spectacularly illuminated by Greg McLenahan, and 'The Power And The Glory', a 5m high tower of Blackpool's own junk extracted from the recycling bins and re-animated into a tower of power, light and colour; Blachere Illumination's 'Wonderland', a sparkling canopy curtain of LED lights floating as if suspended in mid air, mysteriously supporting 6 giant chandeliers; 'Guernica Three', a 50ft high Thunderbird 3 rocket, decorated with scenes from Picasso's Guernica painting; and Philip Oakley's 'The Magic Tree', a 40ft high tree with 72 constantly changing colour Pulsar Chromaspheres hanging like exotic fruit. Blackpool Promenade until 5th November.
Stubbs: A Celebration marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Britain's greatest sporting painter George Stubbs. This exhibition brings together a group of around 30 of his greatest paintings, showing the quality and range of his output as a painter of animals, of rural life, and portraits. Stubbs's treatment of country sports and rural life were meant to elevate and dignify these subjects. Long admired for his paintings of horses, Stubbs's art reflects an age of innovation and change in British culture. This selection draws attention to his treatment of exotic animals, imported from abroad, his precise approach to portraiture, his technical daring, and his enduring images of the British countryside. In the last years of his life he undertook a series of anatomical drawings that aimed to fuse art and science, but these remained unpublished and misunderstood. Among the highlights of the painting of exotic animals, including cheetas, antelope and moose, are: 'A Nylghau' commissioned by the surgeon and anatomist William Hunter as a means of illustrating his lectures; 'The Duke of Richmond's First Bull Moose', a present from the Governer-General of Canada; 'A Cheetah and a Stag with two Indian Attendants', commemorating and incident when a cheetah was let loose in Windsor Great Park; 'Horse Frightened by a Lion', one of a series of painting on this theme, allegedly based on an event witnessed by Stubbs in North Africa; and 'A Monkey', one of two versions, reflecting Stubbs's continued interest in anatomical studies. Tate Britain until 14th January.
Sixties Fashion, 40 years on from Time Magazine's famous 1966 Swinging London cover, looks at the central role played by the boutique and street style in bringing the phenomenon to the world's attention. It spans the mid 1950s, when Mary Quant established her first boutique, to the early 1970s, and the demise of decadent allure of Biba. The display of around 60 garments shows how a series of key 'looks' evolved in London, and reflects their impact on international trends: 'Mayfair Elegance & Chelsea Rebellion' showcases Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers, including Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies, alongside more radical Mary Quant pieces; 'Piccadilly Peacocks' focuses on the tailors who 'broke the stuffed shirt barrier' in menswear, including pioneers Mr. Fish and Rupert Lycett Green; 'Knightsbridge Chic' shows the response of middle market designers and department stores to the new fashions, employing new talent influenced by Quant and other trend setters; 'Carnaby Street And The King's Road' examines the quintessential swinging designers and entrepreneurs at the heart of Swinging London, such as John Stephen, Michael Rainey, Foale & Tuffin and Ossie Clark; 'Kensington Haze' documents the shift from clean mid 60s cool to the escapism and nostalgia typified by Thea Porter and Biba; and 'Out Of London' reflects parallel themes and influences beyond the UK, looking at designers working in Paris and New York, such as Pierre Cardin and Yves St Laurent. Archive films of fashion shows and shopping in the most fashionable boutiques are also on show. Victoria & Albert Museum until 25th February.
Painting The Cosmos: Landscapes By G F Watts is the first exhibition devoted to the landscape painting of the Victorian artist George Frederic Watts. The show includes both finished pictures, intended for exhibition and sale, as well as more private sketches and studies. A particularly noteworthy feature is a group of Watts's virtually unknown landscape studies in watercolour, which have never been exhibited before. Although Watts is best known for his portraits and allegorical subjects, he painted landscapes throughout his career. The exhibition begins with work from his first visit to Tuscany in 1845, where he took 'a violent fancy for landscape'. Later works demonstrate the extent and variety of his interests, with lovingly observed parts of the Surrey countryside at one extreme, and visionary subjects fraught with meaning, painted with an expressionist force that anticipates 20th century abstraction, at the other. Highlights include vividly painted views of sites in Italy, the Greek islands, Egypt, the French Alps, and the Scottish Highlands. Imaginative scenes include 'After the Deluge', with a fiery sun filling the composition. Views such as 'The Alps near Monnetier' and 'Invernesshire', painted on elongated canvases to encompass the vast spaces to which he was drawn, exemplify the grandeur of Watts's vision. The 100 year old Arts and Crafts building, created by Watts and his wife, which houses his extensive studio collection, was the first purpose built art gallery in Britain dedicated to the work of a single artist. Watts Gallery, Compton, nr Guildford, Surrey until 20th November.
French Drawings: Clouet To Seurat (Part 1 - Drawings From About 1500-1700: Clouet To La Fage), explores the innovations of the French drawing style, and traces the major artistic developments, through around 50 highlights from the earliest part of the national collection of French drawings. This includes sheets rarely seen today, because of their sensitivity to light, from royal court portraits of the 16th century by members of the Clouet family, to the elegant Mannerist style of Francesco Primaticcio and others working at the chateau of Fontainebleau. The collection also boasts rich holdings of the major masters of the Baroque, such as Jacques Callot, Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain, many of which entered the collection in the 18th and 19th centuries. The show is arranged chronologically, with major works and lesser ones jostling side by side - and a few of the lesser knowns prove surprisingly impressive. Some key artists are represented by more than one work, others by only a sketch. The entire collection covers the history of drawing and printmaking as fine arts, and comprises approximately 50,000 drawings and over two million prints, dating from the beginning of the 15th century up to the present day. The second part of this exhibition, from Watteau to Seurat, follows in October. The British Museum until 1st October.
A Particular English Music: John Betjeman 1906 - 1984 marks the centenary of the birth of the man often acclaimed as the best loved poet of the 20th century. His acute, witty, nostalgic, sometimes melancholy poems and prose pieces managed in their deceptively simple way to capture an essential Englishness.
Betjeman's textbook middle class upbringing and career: born in Highgate, London, educated at Marlborough and Oxford, on the staff of the Architectural Review, a journalist and, during the Second World War, working for various government departments, provided him with the ammunition for his satirical poems about lost suburban proprieties and aspirations. The exhibition celebrates Betjeman's life, his writing and his many enthusiasms in manuscripts, letters, books, photographs and memorabilia.
Pop Goes The Library: 50 Years Of The Album Charts is an audio display recognising the 50th anniversary of the album chart. Each of the LPs that reached the number one spot during that time is available at a number of listening stations, so visitors can choose from over 10,000 tracks, and discover how musical tastes have changed over the last half century. This is reflected in the range from the first number one, Frank Sinatra's 'Songs for Swinging Lovers', through Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, The Spice Girls and Take That, to this year's Arctic Monkeys and Gnarls Barkley.
The British Library, until 8th October and 31st December.
Richard Dadd 1817 - 1888 is a rare opportunity to see some of the lesser known but extraordinary paintings of the artist whose life was the stuff of a gothic novel. A Royal Academy graduate of great promise, Dadd began to show signs of insanity, and during his cultural grand tour in Europe, felt an uncontrollable urge to attack the Pope on a public appearance in Rome. Believing he was possessed by the Egyptian god Osiris, he killed his father, convinced he was the devil in disguise. In 1843 Dadd was committed to the lunatic asylum at Bethlem Royal Hospital in London, where he spent the rest of his life - a period of 42 years. He was allowed to paint during his incarceration, and the hospital authorities kept the hundreds of works he frantically produced, many of them vivid recreations of the hallucinatory visions he experienced. Dadd's 'Passions' series refers to extreme emotions - Hatred, Jealousy, Madness and Murder are some of the titles - while other scenes relate to his periods of ecstasy, populated by nymphs, fairies and mythical creatures. One of his most celebrated paintings is 'The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke', about which the rock band Queen wrote their eponymous song. Although many of them are smaller than postcards, Dadd's miniature paintings were created with obsessively precise details, and the maritime and landscape scenes are all the more incredible given that they were entirely painted from memory. Leamington Spa Art Gallery, The Pump Rooms until 1st October.
Formula One: The Great Design Race tells the story of motor racing since the 1950s, revealing the mysteries of the intensely secretive industry that invests millions of pounds in design and technology each year. The exhibition features an iconic car from each decade, including the Lotus 79, in which Andretti won the 1978 Drivers' Championship and Lotus won the Constructor's title, demonstrating the potential of ground-effect aerodynamics; and the MP4/4-2, driven by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, which won 15 of the 16 races for McLaren in 1988. It also includes an 'exploded' car, which deconstructs the design and development of the different parts. A series of design stories explain the aerodynamics of the chassis and cockpit; the power generated by the engine, gearbox and fuel; and the advances in suspension, brakes and tyres, which determine the drivers' ability to control their cars at extremely high speeds and in adverse weather conditions. As well as the history and technology of motor racing, the exhibition presents a year in the life of Formula One, a behind the scenes look at the complexity and logistics that enable a team to compete throughout a season. Each race team is represented: Ferrari, Honda, McLaren, Red Bull, Renault, Toyota and Williams. The exhibition also looks to the future, with key industry figures giving their predictions for the ways in which the design and technology of Formula One will develop. Design Museum until 29th October.
Oskar Kokoschka: The Prometheus Triptych is on show for the first time in over a decade, primarily because of its enormous size - the three canvases together measure over eight metres wide. The triptych was commissioned in 1950 by Count Antoine Seilern for the ceiling of his London house at 56 Princes Gate. The central panel depicts the Apocalypse, while the side panels show a scene with Persephone escaping from Hades, and the punishment of Prometheus by Zeus. Kokoschka intended the piece as a warning of the consequences of 'man's intellectual arrogance'. The dangers faced by contemporary civilisation were symbolised by the figure of Prometheus, whose overweening nature drove him to steal fire, so that man could challenge the gods. Kokoschka's fear was that culture and society were being dominated by science and technology, which threatened the freedom and individuality of mankind. He worked with unceasing passion and commitment on the triptych, driven by a belief in the painting's importance as his most complete and powerful artistic achievement. This unique work, combining the contemporary and the classical, and on a scale unparalleled at the time, is accompanied by a range of documentary material, comprising photographs, letters and catalogues. These provide the painting's contemporary context in the Cold War period, and explore the background of the commission, its execution and subsequent reception. A selection of Kokoschka's other works, including the celebrated early lithographs 'The Dreaming Youths', are included in an adjoining display. The Courtauld Institute Gallery until 17th September.
Antonioni's Blow Up is the first public showing of 'a mystery wrapped in an enigma' from the 1960s. Blow Up was the Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni's first film in English, made in 1966, which set out to capture the essence of 'Swinging London'. It did this through the experiences of its main character, a fashion photographer (not a million miles from David Bailey) who thinks he has discovered a murder, when he examines in detail photographs taken during a shoot in a park. This exhibition features the twelve photographs used in the film, which were actually taken by the war photographer Don McCullin. Alongside there are other photographs, taken on set by Arthur Evans, which are grouped in sections that correspond to key sequences in the film. Some concentrate on the photographing of models in the studio, others focus on the enigmatic documentation of the park, the later encounter with the unwitting 'heroine', and finally the process - in the dark room and studio - of rendering and disclosing an overlooked secret object.
The London Fire Brigade Archive presents a selection from the archive of over 300,000 black and white and colour photographs ranging from the foundation of the Brigade in the 1860s up to the present day. It focuses on the period between 1930 and 1970, and includes nearly 100 original images of scenes from domestic incidents across London and the stories behind them. Personal and individual tragedies are recorded and preserved in the detached and clinical method of the archivist, be it the blackened living room after a television explosion, or the scene of a child's bedroom in which little visible damage is detected, but the caption reads 'fatal fire'.
The Photographers' Gallery, London, both shows until 17th September.
Future City: Experiment And Utopia In Architecture 1956 - 2006 showcases the most radical and experimental architecture to have emerged in the past 50 years. From extraordinary houses and incredible towers, to fantasy cityscapes and inhabitable sculptures, it speculates on what it would be like to live in a hairy house, a floating city, and an inflatable pod. Featuring a who's who of architecture, the exhibition includes 70 visionary building projects and urban plans from around the world. These influential and ground breaking projects illustrate the energy and experimentation that characterise radical architecture, and raise questions about the nature of buildings, cities and society. From the visionary artist turned architect Constant Nieuwenhuys, to 1960s giants Archigram and SuperStudio, to deconstructivists Daniel Libeskind and Zaha Hadid, and contemporary digitally inspired work by Nox and Decoi, this is the most comprehensive survey of experimental architecture to be held in Britain. With over 300 original models and drawings, plus photographs and film, the exhibition examines classic projects, from Kisho Kurokawa's 'Floating City' and Rem Koolhaas's 'Delirious New York', to unusual and innovative houses, including Shigeru Ban's 'Paper Log House' and Watanabe's 'Jelly Fish House' series. The exhibition is designed by Foreign Office Architects, one of the most influential and acclaimed London practices of recent years. Barbican Gallery until 17th September.