Private View held by Richard Andrews
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.
Crime Scene Edinburgh: 20 Years Of Rankin And Rebus looks at the history of John Rebus, the fictional detective, and his author Ian Rankin, following the publication of the final novel in the series. The exhibition explores Ian Rankin's development as a writer and his process of writing; the character arc of John Rebus; the key part that the city of Edinburgh has played in the books; the various factors that have made the Rebus stories such a success; how police procedures and forensic science have changed over the past two decades; and in addition, the history of the Lothian and Borders Police. Among the diverse exhibits are Ian Rankin's first scribbled notes on the character (made in the library itself), his old computer, the manuscript of the first Rebus novel; manuscripts of works by other writers who have used Edinburgh as an integral part of their novels, from Sir Walter Scott, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to James Hogg; copies of Rankin's favorite and inspirational books; audio clips of Rankin reading from his work - and of his abortive punk band the Flying Pigs; the mysterious miniature coffins from the National Museum of Scotland that inspired a Rebus book; a recreation of Rebus's 'home turf', the Oxford Bar; excerpts from the recent Rebus television series; and assorted police memorabilia, including the death mask of William Burke (of grave-robbers Burke and Hare fame). Visitors can also put their own detective skills to the test in solving a murder mystery. National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 13th January.
Weapons Of Mass Communication: War Posters explores the relationship between advertising, publicity and government propaganda and policy, from the First World War onwards. The exhibition examines how the greatest designers and advertisers of the day tried to influence the wills of soldier and civilian alike. In the early part of the 20th century, the best posters were always striking, memorable, direct and often beautiful, but they served to carry the most potent of government messages. By the latter part of the 20th century, the poster had become a significant tool of protest and counter-culture, with shocking and sometimes satirical protest posters used by Peace, anti-Nuclear and anti-Vietnam campaigners. The exhibition includes some 300 works, from the iconic images of Alfred Leete's Lord Kitchener recruitment poster, and Savile Lumley's 'Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?', and previously unseen works by pioneering German graphic artists such as Julius Gipkens, Ludwig Hohlwein and Abel Faivre, through Spanish Civil War posters by artists Pedrero and Josep Renau, and the different approaches and themes adopted by each of the allies and Germany during the Second World War, to landmark protest works, such as 'Stop Nuclear Suicide' by FHK Henrion and Peter Kennard's 'No Cruise Missiles Here', and the influential, contemporary graphics of Leon Kuhn and David Gentleman. Imperial War Museum until 30th March.
An American Passion For British Art: Paul Mellon's Legacy marks the centenary of the birth of one of the world's greatest collectors of British art, with a selection of major works from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art. It provides an unparalleled opportunity to experience some of the finest works of British art from the 15th to early 20th centuries. The exhibition features more than 150 works, including prints, drawings, paintings, rare books and manuscripts, with many objects that have not been seen in Britain they were purchased. Among these are early Americana and exceptional rare books and manuscripts including works by William Blake. Items range in scale from miniatures by Hilliard and small scale works on paper, to large scale oil paintings. The representative collection of great British watercolours includes paintings by JR Cozens, Thomas Girtin, Richard Parkes Bonington and Paul Sandby. The oil paintings featured comprise works by Reynolds, Gainsborough, Stubbs Constable, Canaletto, Hogarth, and Turner - including his outstanding marine painting, 'Dort or Dordrecht: The Dort Packet-Boat from Rotterdam Becalmed' on view in the UK for the first time since it was purchased in 1966. Royal Academy of arts until 27th January.
Laura Ford: Rag And Bone is a newly created group of sculptures inspired by characters from the stories of Beatrix Potter. Ford creates installations that are both magical and macabre, working with a variety of materials, from fabric and other found objects, to more traditional materials such as plaster and bronze. She stitches lifesize children from materials often regard as homely, like chintz or gingham, but they have no faces, and she often adds a further disturbing twist by deforming them. Similarly, duvets become hunchbacked old women, and sleeping bags become shuffling tramps. Thus the works here, childlike and playful, belie more serious issues as the figures stand out in the cold, homeless and hungry. Some of Potter's best known characters are set to surprise: Badger is searching through the dustbin for food, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, the hedgehog, is a bag lady, pushing a laden pram overflowing with all her belongings, Tod, the fox, wrapped in blankets, is a reminder of the homeless sleeping in city streets. The sculptures comment on the parallel worlds that exist in towns and cities, the sanitised spaces of consumerism, and the homeless and disenfranchised who often exist on their margins. By casting characters from Edwardian children's tales in contemporary urban situations, Ford asks questions about a throwaway culture, while the sentimentality of Potter's original stories is given a far darker undercurrent. Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate until 2nd December.
The World As A Stage is an exhibition that explores the relationship between visual art and theatre. It brings together a group of 16 international contemporary artists, and comprises a selection of large installations, sculptures, performances, films, participatory works and events. The theme is the extent to which a sense of theatre, or spectacle, has an impact upon the visitor's experience. The centrepiece is Rita McBride's 'Arena1997', a fibreglass sculpture in the form of stadium seating, which is being used to stage live performances during the exhibition. Other artists featured are Pawel Althamer, Cezary Bodzianowsky, Ulla von Brandenberg, Jeremy Deller, Trisha Donnelly, Geoffrey Farmer, Andrea Fraser, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Jeppe Hein, Renata Lucas, Roman Ondak, Markus Schinwald, Tino Sehgal, Catherine Sullivan and Mario Ybarra Jr. Different elements of theatre - backstage, actors, props and audience - are considered in relation to art and exhibition making. Works are displayed both inside and outside the exhibition space, drawing attention to the theatrical nature of the everyday, and incorporating the viewer into the work, as both willing participant and oblivious performer viewed by others. So watch - and watch out. Tate Modern until 1st January.
Pop Art Portraits is the first exhibition to examine the role and significance of portraiture within one of the world's most popular and influential art movements. A visual dialogue between American and British Pop, it brings together 52 key works by 28 Pop artists working on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1950s and 1960s. These include major portraits by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as works by lesser known artists such as Mel Ramos, alongside those of Peter Blake, Allen Jones, Richard Hamilton, David Hockney and Patrick Caulfield. The exhibition examines these artists' shared engagement with depicting the famous, using images taken from advertising, pop music, cinema, comic books, magazines and newspapers. It also shows how Pop Art exploded the conventions of portraiture, creating a new genre of fantasy portraits, using images drawn from popular culture. The display is divided into six sections: Precursors Of Pop; Portraits And The Question Of Style; Fantasy And Fame; Film; Marilyn; Innocence And Experience. The Marilyn section is one of the highlights of the exhibition, bringing together works by British and American Pop artists in the context of their shared obsession with images of Marilyn Monroe. This section focuses on one of the principal themes of the show: the way Pop portraits transformed familiar images into works of art of great technical virtuosity, lasting originality, and enduring fascination. National Portrait Gallery until 20th January.
Justin Coombes: Urban Pastoral is an enticing and unsettling collection of Justin Coombes magical photographs. Using slide projection and other unconventional lighting techniques, Coombes projects images onto buildings or interiors at twilight, and then re-photographs the scenes using long exposures. Developing his technique further, in this exhibition Coombes has used more direct interventions in the landscape, such as subtly rearranging objects to create tableaux that are both recognisable and unnerving. Toxic skies and strange effects charge the banal with a striking atmosphere, recreating the sense of romance, adventure and threat he found upon first moving to London after a childhood spent in the countryside. In 'Urban Pastoral', a recollection of Coombes's mother landscaping their Devon garden, is recreated on a South London allotment - tempestuous blue clouds, barbed wire fences, a scarecrow and looming tower blocks undercut the idyllic nature of the memory; in 'Vanitas with Fox', the urban predator is caught in the headlights of a car whilst scavenging in rubbish, with a skull design on a cardboard box the fox has torn open; and in 'Bully', a group of kids assembles in a council estate playground, loitering with ambiguous intent, the mist of an early dawn shrouding the scene with a sense of melancholy distance. Other new photographs are incorporated into Coombes's short video and performance pieces, where the literary and historical aspects of his image making are brought to the fore. BCA Gallery, Bedford, until 1st December.
The Golden Age Of Couture: Paris And London 1947 - 1957, explores one of the most glamorous and remarkable decades in fashion history. Starting with the impact of Christian Dior's New Look after the Second World War, it looks at the work of Dior and his contemporaries during the period when haute couture was at its height. The launch of the New Look signalled the return to luxury and elegance after wartime austerity, and a group of designers, Dior, Christobal Balenciaga, Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain in Paris, and their London counterparts Norman Hartnel and Hardy Aimes, quickly attracted worldwide attention for elegance and glamour combined with impeccable tailoring. The production of couture was important to the prestige and economy of both France and Britain. While traditionally catering for wealthy private clients, the couture houses also sought new markets, and as the decade progressed, they created perfumes, opened boutiques and licensed their designs to foreign manufacturers. By the late 1950s, the leading couture houses had ceased to be the product of their individual designers, and had become global brands. Over 100 dresses are on display, including daywear, cocktail and evening dresses made for society and royalty, alongside photographs by Cecil Beaton and Richard Avedon, and original Hollywood and documentary film. Accompanying these are audio recordings, textiles and archive material, such as letters and bills of sale. As well as the finished products, the exhibition looks at the design process, the skills and techniques of makers in the workshops, the undergarments and insides of the dresses, employed to create the look, and the effect these new fashion houses had on the revival of the economies of France and Britain. Victoria & Albert Museum until 6th January.
Zaha Hadid: Architecture And Design is the first full scale retrospective in Britain of the work of Zaha Hadid - once referred to as 'the world's greatest unbuilt architect'. Though this was the fate of many of her early projects, her practice, now 20 years old, has grown to a team of 100, and a rush of projects are coming to fruition. In the last year, Hadid has opened two substantial buildings in Germany: a car factory for BMW and the Phaeno Science Centre (shortlisted for the 2006 RIBA Stirling Prize). Both have triumphantly demonstrated her ability to translate the essence of her virtuoso spatial invention in solid form. Now she is busy working on projects all over the world, ranging from masterplans in Singapore and Istanbul, to an opera house in China, a museum in Rome, and a skyscraper in Dubai. This exhibition combines renderings, models and computer images of both the earlier unrealised designs - including the infamous Cardiff Opera House project - together with her recently completed buildings, and proposals for new projects, such as a transport museum in Glasgow, and the Aquatic Centre for the 2012 Olympics in Stratford. In addition, the display also includes Hadid's interior furnishing designs, from the black crystal 'Swarm' chandelier that greets visitors, to paintings, sculptural furniture and vases. Design Museum, London until 25th November.
At Home: Portraits Of Artists From The Royal Academy Collection explores the rich variety of representations of artists in the Academy's collection, built up since its foundation in 1768. The works range from C R Leslie's tiny, intimate picture of his friend John Constable, via A G Walker's depictions of studio life, to grand formal images such as Giuseppe Ceracchi's bust of Reynolds, George Frederic Watts's portrait of Lord Leighton, and Charles West Cope's magnificent Victorian group, 'The Council of the Royal Academy', depicting eminent Royal Academicians selecting works for the Summer Exhibition of 1875. Alongside these are Thomas Gainsborough and John Bellany's revealing self-portraits, Joshua Reynolds's depiction of his theatrically dressed studio assistant Giuseppe Marchi, and an early portrait of Laura Knight by her husband-to-be, Harold Knight. The exhibition offers a fascinating glimpse of artists' public and private lives, aspirations and achievements, and holds up a mirror to the inner life of the Academy itself as a home from home for British artists over the last 250 years. Royal Academy of Arts until 27th November.
Dan Shipsides: Radical Architecture offers Dan Shipsides response to the ideas about public access to - and interaction with - landscape, promulgated by 19th and 20th century figures such as social critic John Ruskin, activist Benny Rothman (instigator of the 1932 Mass Trespass over Kinder Scout) and avant-garde climber Joe Brown. Shipsides makes art from rambling in the countryside, but unlike Richard Long, who 'rearranges' nature into art as he goes, Shipsides recreates it indoors when he gets home. Shipsides has visited significant sites in the Peak District that were made accessible and internationalised by the pioneering vision of the aforementioned individuals, and has used the experience to create a climbable sculpture, based on a rock climb at The Roaches. A fragmentary text, 'Angels Wall', gives a taste of the installation's strenuous physicality and multifaceted cross referencing. It is accompanied by drawings and images based around other rock climbs in the Peak District. Alongside are works by Ramsey Richard Reinagle, John Ruskin, and Grete Marks, giving the background to the radical outdoor movements of the 19th and 20th centuries that inspired Shipsides. Presumably this is what makes it art - rather than just a climbing wall you would find in an activity centre. Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, until 25th November.