News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 8th April 2009


Henry VIII: Dressed To Kill is an exhibition of the personal arms and armour of Henry VIII, held as part of celebration of the 500th anniversary of his accession to the throne. It brings together the largest number of original weapons, armours and pieces of military equipment associated with Henry VIII ever displayed, including some original artefacts that have never been seen by the public before. Highlights include: the stunningly decorated 'Silvered and Engraved' armour from about 1515; the 'Tonlet Armour', named from its large metal tonlet (or skirt) offering protection for the upper legs, which Henry wore to compete in foot combat at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520; the 'Horned Helmet' presented to Henry by the Emperor Maximilian, featuring a strange face and incredible horns; the 'Burgundian Bard' horse armour; the 'Wilton anime' armour, possibly the very last ever made for Henry, worn during the siege of Boulogne in 1544, comprising a series of overlapping horizontal plates; and the only two sporting guns that are known to have survived from Henry's personal armoury. As it was made to fit the body exactly, armour from different dates in Henry's life reflect the physical changes as he aged, from the physique of an athletic young king, to the heavier older man of the Holbein painting. The exhibition uses the latest photographic, video and scanning techniques to show in fine detail the intricate construction and lavish decoration of these original artefacts, hand made by master armourers in England and Europe. Tower Of London until 17th January.

Turner And Italy explores the complex and enduring relationship between the artist J M W Turner, and the climate, landscapes and architecture of Italy. The exhibition comprises over 100 works, including oil paintings, watercolours, sketchbooks, and books from Turner's library, which illustrate his fascination with the country. Turner travelled to Italy seven times, and while past exhibitions have considered particular aspects of his Italian work, such as his love of Venice, this is the first to provide a comprehensive overview, and consider the impact it had on his British art. Highlights include 'Rome from the Vatican', a panorama of the city, which shows Raphael painting in the foreground, 'Palestrina - Composition', 'Bay of Naples (Vesuvius Angry)', 'Florence, from San Miniato', 'Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino', 'The Val d'Aosta' and 'Approach to Venice'. Because Turner's enthusiasm for Italy was sustained throughout his career, this exhibition illustrates all the distinct stages in the stylistic evolution of his work, and the transition he made from early, conventional topographical studies, to the highly charged, emotive, and visionary pictures of his later years. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 7th June.

The Whitechapel Gallery has reopened following a £13.5m expansion into the adjoining Passmore Edwards library, designed by Robbrecht en Daem, in association with Witherford Watson Mann Architects, which has increased the space by 78%. This has provided new galleries dedicated to collections and new commissions, a permanent gallery and research room for the archive, an education and research tower, including study and creative studios, and a restaurant. The reopening exhibitions comprise: an installation by Goshka Macuga, inspired by the gallery's revolutionary exhibition of Picasso's Guernica in 1939, featuring the United Nations tapestry copy of the painting; a retrospective of the work of German sculptor Isa Genzken, who combines silver foil, plastic wrap, flowers and even a hostess trolley into a things of poetic beauty; a display of pieces from the British Council Collection selected by Michael Craig-Martin, including early purchases of works by artists such as Frank Auerbach, Lucien Freud, Ben Nicholson, Paul Nash, Henry Moore, Sarah Lucas, Peter Doig and Chris Ofili; a tribute to the early days of the Co-operative movement in Whitechapel by Mexican artist Minerva Cuevas; and rare documents and letters from the archive, focusing on the forming of the Vorticist movement in the library, by artists David Bomberg, Mark Gertler and Isaac Rosenberg. The Whitechapel Gallery, London, continuing.


Wallace & Gromit Present…A World Of Cracking Ideas is a new interactive experience telling the story of invention and innovation. Britain's best known inventor (and his equally resourceful companion) guide visitors through a world of innovation to discover how simple ideas can transform into life changing devices. Created in collaboration with Aardman Animations and the Intellectual Property Office, the exhibition is designed to inspire a new generation of British innovators. Visitors go on a tour through 62 West Wallaby Street, the famous home of Wallace & Gromit, from the kitchen to the garden shed, taking in some of Britain's first ever real inventions to be awarded patents, alongside Wallace's own 'cracking contraptions' such as the Tellyscope, the Piella Propellor, Techno-trousers and the Blend-o-matic. Each room in the house looks at a different aspect of the thinking process behind ideas, and shows visitors how they can protect their intellectual property through patents, trademarks, designs and copyright, ensuring that they derive maximum value from their inventions. Visitors inspired by the exhibition can come up with their own creative ideas, which they can jot down and leave at 'Ideas Stations' located in the Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, Bathroom, Workshop and Garden. Visitors' ideas will also be used to power Wallace's new 3m high contraption called The Thinking Cap Machine. The Science Museum until 1st November.

Fatal Attraction: Diana And Actaeon - The Forbidden Gaze focuses on works relating to the mythical tale of Diana and Actaeon, which has provided a rich source of inspiration for artists through the centuries. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, the noble hunter Actaeon inadvertently encounters the goddess Diana bathing. As a punishment for catching this glimpse, he is transformed into a stag by Diana, and is consequently hunted down and killed by his own hounds. This exhibition explores how the myth has been portrayed in many ways by the visions of different artists, in forms from painting and photography to ceramics and sculpture, from antiquity to the present day. It features works by artists including Titian, Rembrandt, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Gustav Klimt, Degas, Pablo Picasso, Egon Schiele, Rubens, Hans Bellmer, Paolo Vernonese, Albrecht Durer, Charles Joseph Natoire, Robert Mapplethorpe, Marlene Dumas, Delacroix, Karen Knoor, Gregory Crewdson, William Etty, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Thomas Ruff, Pierre Klossowski and John Currin. Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 31st May.

Sickert In Venice is devoted to the paintings of Venice made by Walter Richard Sickert, who became known as the father of modern British art, after introducing Impressionism and Post-Impressionism to a younger generation of British painters. Having trained under James McNeill Whistler, Sickert made repeated visits to Venice from 1895 onwards, as the city became the dominant subject of his art, creating some of his most ravishing impressionist work. Initially Sickert painted many scenes of Venetian architecture, including landmarks such St Mark's Basilica and the Rialto Bridge. On subsequent visits, Sickert moved the object of his attention first into alleyways, and then indoors, experimenting with the concept of ambiguous figures in interiors. Through his pairing of female figures, such as the Venetian prostitutes La Giuseppina and La Carolina, sometimes dressed, sometimes nude, Sickert discovered an approach to the subject that formed the basis of his art for the remainder of his career.

Veronese: The Petrobelli Altarpiece brings together for the first time since the 1780s, the four known, surviving pieces of one of the largest altarpieces ever produced in Italy during the 16th century. Over 5m high, the altarpiece was originally painted around 1565 by Paolo Veronese for Antonio and Girolamo Petrobelli, and it resided in their family chapel, San Francesco at Lendinara, until 1785, when the church and convent were closed down and destroyed. The painting was cut up and sold in pieces, described at the time as being 'sold in quarters, as one does with butcher's meat'. This exhibition reunites a newly discovered fragment of the central section together with the three known parts, but the whereabouts of the rest of this piece remain a mystery.

Dulwich Picture Gallery, Sickert until 31st May - Veronese until 3rd May.

George Scharf: From Regency Street To The Modern Metropolis is the first exhibition devoted solely to the work of George Scharf, the artist and illustrator who has been described as the pictorial equivalent of the literary chronicler of early Victorian London, Charles Dickens. Scharf studied in Munich and became an expert in lithographic printing and miniature portrait painting. He settled in London in 1816, at a time when the capital was undergoing a dramatic expansion, and spent the rest of his life in the city. The rapidly changing face of early Victorian London is depicted in this exhibition through some 60 works. Scharf's vivid, detailed drawings capture every aspect of ordinary life, showing people going about their daily business in fine detail - from the boots on their feet to the buttons on their coats and the hats on their heads - recorded with an immediacy that is almost photographic. Not only do the pictures offer an interesting insight into London's inhabitants, Scharf also precisely recreates the architectural landscape of the city. His work combines a sensitive observation of the individuals in the pictures with architectural accuracy to give a full picture of the city and its people as he saw it. In the 1820s and 1830s London experienced a huge growth in what would now be described as 'consumer culture' and Scharf's pictures depict the advertising hoardings and shop signs that started to appear all around the city. They also reflect how society changed, with the introduction of gas lighting, which made the streets safer, and meant that London could start to develop a nightlife, leading to the opening of the first music halls. Sir John Soane Museum, London until 6th June.

Changing Faces: Anthony Van Dyck As An Etcher features rarely seen portrait etchings, executed prior to the Flemish artist's arrival in London in 1632. In a series known as 'Iconography', van Dyck produced a collection of uniform portrait prints of distinguished contemporaries, after his own designs. With the exceptions of Erasmus and the diplomat Philippe de Roy, the portraits are all of Flemish artists of van Dyck's generation or the preceding one, together with his printmaking collaborators, engravers Lucas Vorsterman and Paulus Pontius. Taking his cue from portraiture of the Renaissance, through their physical poses, expressions and attire, his fellow artists are portrayed as distinguished, dignified and learned men, rather than ordinary craftsman. The compositions relate to the sitter's talents and specialities, such as Joos de Momper gesturing towards a mountainous backdrop, in recognition of his reputation for painting mountain ranges. Although few in number, they are among the most striking examples of the etching technique. Under van Dyck's direction, and also after his death, other printmakers built up the compositions with engraved lines. The development of the portraits is revealed by impressions of the pure etchings next to later states. To complement the etchings, the exhibition also includes drawings by van Dyck, Joos de Momper, Jan Breughel the Elder and Frans Snyders. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 17th May.

Annette Messager: The Messengers is the first British retrospective of the contemporary European artist Annette Messager. The exhibition presents a panoramic survey from the intimate and conceptually driven pieces Messager made in the early 1970s, to the very large sculptural installations of the past 15 years, in which movement plays an increasingly important role. It reveals her use of an astonishing repertoire of forms and materials, among them soft toys, stuffed animals, fabrics, wool, photographs, text and drawings. Many of Messager's art pieces are inspired by dreams, often reinventing the monsters of her childhood nightmares, each installation playing on the contradictions of an enclosed space being a shelter and a prison to an altogether unnerving degree. Highlights include a recreation of 'Casino', the installation that won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2005, where visitors walk into a strange and furtive world of mechanical puppets and pallid apparitions bobbing on a crimson sea, inspired by Pinocchio and all the creepy allusions that malevolent fairytale throws up; 'My Trophies', where painting is added to blown up black and white photographs of parts of the human body; 'Collection Album', which conjures up the private rituals developed by women in response to living in a male dominated culture; and 'My Wishes', in which tiny photographs of body parts are hung by string from the wall to form an elegant votive-like display. Hayward Gallery until 25th May.


Unique Forms - The Drawing And Sculpture Of Umberto Boccioni features work by perhaps the most significant of the five artists associated with the first wave of Futurist painting in Italy. Equally articulate with verbal and visual imagery, Boccioni became the foremost theorist of Futurist aesthetics, which he expounded with tremendous energy and rigour in his tract 'Futurist Painting and Sculpture'. Like all Futurists, Boccioni was fascinated with speed and movement, but he expressed this particularly through the muscular energy of the human body and galloping horses. Comprising some 20 works, the exhibition includes a number of different drawings entitled 'Dynamism of a Human Body', and other works on paper such as 'Figure in Movement', 'Speeding Muscles', 'Study for Empty and Full Abstracts of a Head', and 'Study for the City Rises', plus the sculptures 'Development of a Bottle in Space' and 'Unique Forms of Continuity in Space', his acknowledged masterpiece, together with photographs of other lost sculptures.

Luca Buvoli - Velocity Zero is an installation by the contemporary artist Luca Buvoli, exploring the themes that fascinated the Futurists, and the gulf between the ideals that the movement's members espoused, and the reality of their application. At its heart, sections of the Futurist manifesto are read out loud by people with speech difficulties - the halting speech of the readers contrasting with the values of speed and efficiency espoused by the Futurists.

Estorick Collection, London N1, until 19th April.

Darwin is a celebration of the man and his revolutionary theory that changed that changed man's understanding of the world and his place within it. The exhibition retraces Darwin's life changing journey as a young man aboard the HMS Beagle on its 5 year voyage around the world. It contains the clues that helped him develop the idea of evolution by natural selection through notebooks, artefacts, rare personal belongings, and the fossils and zoological specimens he collected on his travels. The objects on display, coupled with illuminating text and films, reveal the patterns Darwin observed among animals that provided the evidence for the theory of evolution by natural selection, and led to the publication of On The Origin Of Species. These include live green iguanas and horned frogs from South America, together with mounted specimens of the animals and birds he saw on his journey, such as sloths, rheas, armadillos and mockingbirds. There is also a reconstruction of Darwin's study at Down House, where he refined his theory, which includes an original handwritten page from On The Origin Of Species, together with family photographs and love letters, and a box filled with shells and family keepsakes, which show a different side to the scientist, as a family man, husband and father of 10 children. The exhibition concludes with an exploration of modern evolutionary biology, and the importance of evolution in understanding how infectious disease causing organisms keep changing as we attempt to control their spread. Natural History Museum until 19th April.

Beside The Seaside: Snapshots Of British Coastal Life 1880 - 1950 brings together photographs, posters and seaside memorabilia to capture the essence of both working life and early tourism along the British coast. From dramatic rugged coastlines and idyllic fishing villages to sea bathing, promenades and donkey rides, the popularity of the seaside has led to its enduring status as a quintessential British experience. The exhibition both highlights the British seaside holiday, and explores a diversity of activities along the British coast. Following the advent of the railways in the mid 19th century, quiet coastal settlements and towns such as Eastbourne and Scarborough were transformed into thriving holiday destinations, where beaches, piers, promenades and hotels were developed to cater for a range of tastes and budgets. Photographs range from fashionable Edwardians relaxing under parasols by the sea, and crowds of visitors enjoying the sunny piers and bustling promenades of popular holiday resorts, to fisherman sorting through the day's catch, rows of fishing trawlers returned to port, and a cockle picker mid hunt. The exhibition draws heavily on images made by Francis Frith, a pioneering Victorian photographer, whose passion for photography and travel led to him found what eventually became the largest photographic publishing company in the world. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until 19th April.