Private View held by Richard Andrews
Shoot! Existential Photography traces the history of a curious side-show that appeared at fairgrounds in the period following World War I: the photographic shooting gallery. If the customer hit the bullseye, he or she triggered a camera, winning a snapshot of themselves in the act of shooting. The metaphorical charge of the activity is obvious - upon looking at their portrait the shooter sees the gun, still trained in their hands a moment after its discharge, aimed at themselves. The idea fascinated many artists and intellectuals in its heyday, including existentialist French philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, surrealist Man Ray and photographers Robert Frank, Henri Cartier- Bresson and Brassai among others. Showcasing vernacular and vintage images alongside contemporary pieces, the exhibition traces the history of this image making process from its days as a popular sideshow to its re-appropriation by artists. It includes numerous analogies between taking photographs and shooting, and includes works by contemporary artists such as Sylvia Ballhause, Agnes Geoffray, Jean-Francois Lecourt, Steven Pippin, Emilie Pitoiset, Niki de Saint Phalle and Patrick Zachmann. Among the highlights are Erik Kessels's celebration of one amateur shooter, Ria van Dijk, who took portraits of herself in this way every year from 1936, with 60 of her images; Rudolf Steiner's series 'Pictures of me, shooting myself into a picture', in which the bullet hole serves as the aperture for a pinhole camera, creating an image upon impact; and the video-sound installation 'Crossfire' by Christian Marclay, a sampling from Hollywood films that edits together those moments in which the actors on the screen begin to take aim at the movie theatre audience. The Photographer's Gallery, 16 - 18 Ramillies Street, London W1, until 6th January.
The First Cut features work by contemporary artists who radically rethink the possibilities of working with paper, and take it beyond its natural boundaries. By transforming books and magazines, maps and currency, using origami, cutouts, silhouettes, creating dresses, animations, sculptures and installations, the 31 international artists in this exhibition demonstrate the huge potential and power of such a humble and fragile material, transforming it into fantastical works of art. Giant sculptures inspired by far away galaxies spiral from the wall; there is a walk-through forest of paper trees; miniature worlds explode from vintage staple boxes and emerge from the page of a book; flocks of birds and butterflies cut from maps appear alongside artworks that feature dark fairytale imagery; guns and grenades are fashioned from paper currency; and sinister silhouettes comment on social, political and economic issues. Meanwhile, fragile paper dresses and shoes, as well as sculptural dresses fashioned out of maps and money respond to the historical costume displays and grandeur of their Georgian setting. The delicacy and vulnerability of their sculptural form belies the gravity of the issues they confront, including ecology, geo-politics, mapping and trade, as well as identity, the body and memory. Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Gallery of Costume until 27th January.
Cotman In Normandy looks at the central chapter of the career of the celebrated 19th century English watercolourist. For most of the 19th century John Sell Cotman was the most widely admired English watercolourist, surpassing even JMW Turner in popularity. Between 1817 and 1820 Cotman made 3 tours of Normandy, where he was shocked by the destruction wrought on the region's religious buildings by the iconoclasts of the French Revolution. He painted and drew structures that survived with a sharpened sense of their vulnerability. In 1822 Cotman published two monumental folio volumes, Ancient Architecture of Normandy, and this exhibition aims to put this work in the broader context of his lifelong engagement with buildings, moving on from the general perception that this period was a distraction from Cotman's celebrated lyrical watercolours. The exhibition brings together around 100 of Cotman's drawings, watercolours and prints, allowing comparison of his Normandy work against the background of his earlier architectural work, and presents a further 20 studies by other artists, including Turner, Samuel Prout and Henry Edridge, who also visited Normandy. Among the highlights of Cotman's works are 'Church of St Jacques at Dieppe, the West Front', 'An Old House in the Rue St Jean', 'Cathedral Church of Notre Dame at Rouen', 'A Ruined House', 'Alencon', 'Tower in Normandy', 'Dieppe Harbour' and two paintings of the town of Domfront, which have not been shown together since 1824. Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Dulwich, London SE21, until 13th January.
Seduced By Art: Photography Past And Present explores the relationship between historical painting, early photography of the mid 19th century, and work being done by photographers today. The exhibition looks at how photographers use fine art traditions, including Old Master painting, to explore the possibilities of their art. Rather than being a general survey, the show draws attention to one particular strand of photography's history, in major early works by the greatest British and French practitioners, alongside photographs by an international array of contemporary artists. The exhibition includes new photography and video specially commissioned for the show and on public display for the first time, plus works rarely seen in Britain. Paintings and early and contemporary photographs are presented together according to traditional genres such as portraiture, still life and landscape. These include provocative religious imagery by 19th century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and late 20th century artist Helen Chadwick; spectacular battlefield tableaux by Emile-Jean-Horace Vernet from 1821 and Luc Delahaye's work of 2001; Martin Parr's satire of class aspiration 'Signs of the Times' displayed alongside Thomas Gainsborough's 'Mr and Mrs Andrews'; photographs by Craigie Horsfield and the Victorian artist David Wilkie Wynfield showing the Baroque influence of Anthony van Dyck; painted and photographed nudes with controversial works by early photographers such as Oscar Gustav Rejlander and contemporary practitioners like Richard Learoyd; and landscapes by the early French photographer Gustave Le Gray and contemporary artists such as Jem Southam and Richard Billingham, capped by a huge eight part photogravure by Tacita Dean. In addition, three 'interventions' of contemporary photographs by Richard Billingham, Craigie Horsfield and Richard Learoyd are displayed in the permanent collection, juxtaposed with 19th century paintings by Constable, Degas and Ingres. National Gallery until 30th January.
Beyond Bagpuss - An Artist's Journey is a retrospective of the work of the artist and illustrator Linda Birch. The exhibition features work from Birch's early days as illustrator of the children's characters Pogle's Wood, Bagpuss and The Clangers, working with the legendary animators Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate, through her long career as painter, teacher and writer. Birch has illustrated some 150 books, including Conker by Michael Morpurgo, and Who Shot Queen Victoria, by Horrible Histories author Terry Deart. Altogether the exhibition features some 40 works, including illustrations from Bagpuss, along with artwork from the BBC's Jackanory series, such as Simon And The Witch, photographs, sketchbooks and new paintings of landscapes, wild flowers and animals, both farm and domestic, plus a video of her at work, outlining her 40 year career. Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, until 17th February.
Ritual And Revelry: The Art Of Drinking In Asia reveals the importance of water, alcohol and tea in cultures across Asia over the past 2,500 years. From Bronze Age China to modern South Asia, liquids have played an important role in both religious and secular spheres, though the boundaries between them are often fluid. The exhibition celebrates the ritual and social uses of liquids including sake (rice wine), toddy, water and the mighty Asian drink that has conquered the world - tea. The importance of tea is illustrated through many exceptional objects, including an exquisite silver tea set from Bhuj in Western India, where the handles have been shaped into bamboo stems, and a Japanese brazier shaped like a demon's face, pronouncing judgment on those around it. Tea became popular among Buddhist monks in the mountainous areas of southern China where conditions were good for cultivation. From the monasteries tea drinking then spread to the educated elite and on to the rest of society. Before the advent of steeped tea (leaves brewed in hot water) in the 15th century, large bowls such the black-glazed wares from the Jian kilns in northern Fujian were used, as seen in this display. The exhibition features vessels for drinking, pouring and performing religious offerings, as well as depictions showing their use in paintings and prints, covering their significance in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, as well as traditional Chinese and Japanese religious practices. The social side of liquids is revealed in sections on revelry and intoxication. These include stories of consumption of sake in the pleasure districts of Tokyo, alcohol in the Mughal courts of India and drinking games in China. The exhibition also uncovers the spread of tea across Asia, its use in the iconic Japanese tea ceremony and how butter tea is drunk in Tibet. British Museum until 6th January.
Hollywood Costume brings together some of the most iconic costumes from over a century of filmmaking, charting a journey from early Charlie Chaplin silent pictures to the motion capture costume design for 'Avatar'. The exhibition comprises over 130 costumes, with classics from the Golden Age, including Dorothy's blue and white gingham pinafore dress designed by Adrian for 'The Wizard Of Oz' , Scarlett O'Hara's green 'curtain' dress designed by Walter Plunkett for 'Gone With The Wind' and the 'little black dress' designed by Hubert De Givenchy for Holly Golightly in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', with the latest Hollywood releases, including Consolata Boyle's costumes for Meryl Streep in 'The Iron Lady' and Jacqueline Durran's costumes for Kiera Knightley in 'Anna Karenina'. It explores the central role of costume design, from the glamorous to the very subtle, as an essential tool of cinema storytelling, illuminating the designer's creative process from script to screen, and revealing the collaborative dialogue that leads to the invention of authentic people within the story. The exhibition also examines the changing social and technological context in which costume designers have worked over the last century. From Joan Crawford's blue gingham waitress uniform in 'Mildred Pierce' by Milo Anderson, through Elizabeth Taylor's dress as 'Cleopatra' by Irene Sharaff, to the white 3 piece suit worn by John Travolta in 'Saturday Night Fever' by Patrizia Von Brandenstein, these costumes are united by their one purpose of serving the story. Using montages, film clips and projections, the clothes are placed in their original context, alongside interviews with key Hollywood costume designers, directors and actors talking about the role costume plays in creating a character. The steps of the costume designer's research process are explored using designs and sketches, photographs showing costume fittings, budget breakdowns and script pages to show dialogue that discloses character defining clues. Victoria & Albert Museum until 27th January.
Collective Observations: Folklore & Photography From Benjamin Stone To Flickr explores the complimentary relationship between photography and folklore practice. Since Benjamin Stone established the National Photographic Record Association in 1897, photographers have had a fascination with the rites and rituals of Britain. This exhibition, curated by the Museum of British Folklore, features contemporary photographers such as Faye Claridge and Doc Rowe, alongside archive images from the Benjamin Stone Collection, Flickr and more. There are 720 recorded events, rites and customs practiced in the UK each year, and folklore is reflected in every element of our community, life and values. The medium of photography captures the ephemeral moment that is the heart of folk activity. The exhibition considers the enduring appeal of vernacular traditions as subject matter for image makers, and explores how photographers have consistently turned their lenses toward the spectacle of these archaic customs, whether by documenting events, like Homer Sykes (cheese rolling) and Sara Hannant, making portraits, like Henry Bourne and David Ellison, or taking a more conceptual approach, like Matthew Cowan (morris dancers) and Tom Chick. Photographs from the image repository of our times, Flickr, reflect that folklore is adapting to new circumstances, and remains as relevant today as ever. At the same time there appears to be an upsurge of interest in folklore through music, art and dance, and a growing trend and desire for people to reconnect with their communities, heritage and environment. Towner Galler, Eastbourne, until 13th January.
Richard Hamilton: The Late Works is a final statement of intent by one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. Up to his death in September 2011, Richard Hamilton was planning this major exhibition of recent works. It includes 30 paintings in a labyrinth-like space, also designed by Hamilton, encapsulating many of the influential directions his art had taken over recent decades. Just before his death, Hamilton was at work on a major painting based on Honore de Balzac's short story 'Le Chef-d'oeuvre inconnu'. When it became clear he would not live to finish the work, Hamilton decided that the exhibition would culminate in the initial presentation of three large-scale variations on this work. Each one shows three masters of painting, Poussin, Courbet and Titian, contemplating a reclining female nude, and together, they suggest how the final work might have evolved. The exhibition traces several themes of Hamilton's career from the 1980s. They include his exacting attention to single-point perspective and the pictorial creation of interior spaces; the theme of the beautiful woman and desire; and his later interest in space and perspective in works by Renaissance artists. The show also surveys Hamilton's engagement over more than 50 years with the art of Marcel Duchamp, whose master themes, including the nude descending a staircase and the bride stripped bare, he re-addressed. In addition, Hamilton's innovations as a pioneer in the artistic use of the computer, and his advocacy of the use of computer technology, collage and photography in his pictures are also examined. National Gallery until 13th January.
Alan Turing And Life's Enigma looks at the code breaker and computer pioneer's later work in the field of biology. From 1948 until his death in 1954, at a time when people knew very little about genetics or DNA, Alan Turing used an early Ferranti Mark 1 computer to study a subject known as morphogenesis. He was trying to crack how a soup of cells and chemicals could transform itself and grow into complex natural shape. In an article published in 1952, 'The chemical basis of morphogenesis', where he proposed a reaction-diffusion model of spatial pattern formation, Turing suggested that everything from the spots and stripes on animals to the arrangement of pine cones and flowers could be explained by the interactions between two chemicals. He was one of the first people to propose a formal model that could explain the self-organisation phenomena present in a wide variety of biological systems, and he did so with an impressive clarity of thought. This exhibition includes Turing's own notes together with slides, drawings, diagrams and other objects and materials involved in his research. The Manchester Museum until 18th November.
Daring Explorers reveals some of the situations that Victorian species seekers had to deal with, risking their lives in remote places, collecting animals and plants in the name of science. Surviving rhino attacks, typhoid and shipwrecks, these men, and a few women, left an important legacy, and their stories are told through hair-raising letters to loved ones, 'holiday snaps' and the specimens and equipment that made it back to England, even if sometimes the collectors didn't. The exhibition focuses on four fearless collectors, and compares their daring and skills: Charles M Harris, whose first expedition attempt to the Galapagos in 1897 was a disaster - the ship's captain died of yellow fever, one man was sacked for drunkenness and another ran away; William Doherty, who lost several years' worth of collections, journals and scientific notes in Java, Indonesia; Henry Palmer, who ran out of cash and could not send his specimens back or even leave Hawaii until more money arrived; and Alexander F R Wollaston, who lost most of his equipment and his original expedition diary when his canoe capsized in a remote area of New Guinea in 1912. But it's not just the collector's stories that still captivate. Many of the specimens that made it home continue to be used in scientific research, revealing fascinating information to scientists today. Natural History Museum, Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire, until 18th November.
The Search For Immortality: Tomb Treasures Of Han China takes visitors into the 2000 year old tombs of Han Dynasty China, revealing an epic story of lust for power both in life and death. The Han Dynasty were the founders of unified rule in China as we know it today, but to maintain their empire, the emperors had to engage in constant struggles for power. The exhibition compares the spectacular tombs of two rival power factions: the Han imperial family in the northern 'cradle' of Chinese history, and the Kingdom of Nanyue in the south. Protected by clay guardians and filled with jade and gold, the tombs were palaces fit for immortals. Each tomb was a symbol of power and majesty, designed so its owner could 'live' again in eternity in the same luxury they enjoyed in life. Over 350 treasures in jade, gold, silver, bronze and ceramics reveal the secrets of the royal obsession with obtaining immortality. Among the highlights are: two burial armour suits belonging to the rival rulers, made from thousands of plaques of jade, sewn together with gold or silk thread; jade artefacts thought to ward off demons, such as a dagger to serve the emperor in the afterlife, and a cup to catch the morning dew that ensured immortality; spectacular objects in gold, including imperial seals and exotic belt buckles; pottery soldiers and bronze weapons; pottery dancers, musicians and servants; and unusual artefacts including a toilet and an early ginger grater. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 11th November.