Private View held by Richard Andrews
In Fine Style: The Art Of Tudor And Stuart Fashion explores the sumptuous costume of British monarchs and their court during the 16th and 17th centuries. For the Tudor and Stuart elite, luxurious clothing was an essential component of court life. Garments and accessories, and the way in which they were worn, conveyed important messages about wealth, gender, age, social position, marital status and religion. Royalty and the elite were the tastemakers of the day, often directly influencing the styles of fashionable clothing. High-maintenance and impractical clothing conveyed a clear message to the viewer that the subject of a portrait enjoyed a privileged lifestyle, and had plenty of spare time to devote to the pursuit of fashion and the lengthy process of dressing. Through the evidence of portraiture, the exhibition traces changing tastes in fashionable attire and the spread of fashion through the royal courts of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. Costume and paintings were frequently commissioned to mark important events, such as elevation to a knightly order, marriage or a little boy's transition from skirts to breeches at the onset of adulthood. Most elite clothing was custom-made and far more expensive than the equivalent today. The exhibition brings together over 60 paintings, by artists such as Hans Holbein the Younger, Nicholas Hilliard, Van Dyck, Rembrandt and Peter Lely, as well as drawings, sculpture, garments, jewellery, accessories and armour. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, 10th May to 6th October.
Fiona Rae: Maybe You Can Live On The Moon In The Next Century features the work of the contemporary British artist described as "a Jackson Pollock for the digital age". Over the last 25 years Fiona Rae has established herself as one of the leading painters of her generation with a distinctive body of work, full of restless energy, humour and complexity, which has set out to challenge and expand the modern conventions of painting. This exhibition of 16 works starts when Rae's paintings had begun to reference a world keyed to the computer screen, echoing in painterly analogues many of the new visual conventions familiar to a post-Photoshop generation. Fonts, signs and symbols drawn from contemporary design and typography appeared, whilst more familiar abstract marks and spontaneous gestures worried the autonomy, legibility and function of these graphic shapes, debating a new synthesis of painterly languages. Her lexicon further broadened to include small figures or cartoons whose status is left intriguingly ambiguous, but serve to point up the metaphysical and artificial dimensions of abstract painting, whilst also providing an empathetic point of identification for the viewer that invokes a more personal reading. Her recent titles often purport to be exclamations or statements, but like her paintings, they elude definitive explanation and can appear simultaneously dark and charming, anxious and insouciant. Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, until 23rd June.
Scandal '63: The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Profumo Affair features images of the leading figures from the major political scandal of the 1960s. The events that came to a head in 1963 involved John Profumo, the then Secretary of State for War, who lied to parliament when he denied having a brief affair with the nightclub hostess and model Christine Keeler, while she was also romantically involved with the senior Russian naval attache Yevgeny Ivanov. These events took place against the backdrop of the Cold War and heightened political paranoia. Highlights of the display are a rare vintage print of one of Lewis Morley's iconic seated nude portraits of Christine Keeler; and two of Michael Ward's colour photographs of Pauline Boty with her now lost painting 'Scandal '63', which incorporated Morley's photograph of Keeler and four of the key players: John Profumo; Stephen Ward, Keeler's friend, artist and osteopath to the establishment; Johnny Edgecombe, her former lover the jazz promoter; and his rival the jazz musician Aloysius 'Lucky' Gordon. Also featured are a number of contemporary press photographs of those involved, including Christine Keeler's friends Mandy Rice-Davies and Paula Hamilton-Marshall, which describe the unraveling of the story in the media; Tom Blau's on-set photographs of Keeler which were taken to publicise The Keeler Affair, a film banned in Britain; Gerald Scarfe's cartoon of Harold Macmillan as Keeler, which appeared in Private Eye; and an LP cover for That Affair featuring an illustration by Barry Fantoni. National Portrait Gallery until 15th September.
Saloua Raouda Choucair is the world's first major retrospective exhibition of work by the Lebanese artist, and celebrates her contribution to international modernism. Comprising over 120 works, many of which have never been seen before, this exhibition brings together paintings, sculptures and other objects made by Saloua Raouda Choucair over six decades, reflecting her interests in science, mathematics and Islamic art and poetry. Choucair is a pioneer of abstract art in the Middle East and is becoming recognised as an important figure in the history of global modernism. A rare female voice in the Beirut art scene from the 1940s onwards, her work combines elements of western abstraction with Islamic aesthetics. It is characterised by an experimental approach to materials alongside an elegant use of modular forms, lines and curves drawn from the traditions of Islamic design. The exhibition focuses on Choucair's sculptures from the 1950s to the 1980s, created in wood, metal, stone and fibreglass, as well as key examples of her early paintings such as 'Self-Portrait' and 'Paris-Beirut'. Choucair often created works in discrete series, reflected here in her 'interforms', such as 'Sculpture with One Thousand Pieces', which comprise seemingly simple cubes or blocks that house intricately carved and highly complex internal forms; 'duals,' consisting of two carefully interlocking parts; and a modular 'poems', made from individual pieces that stack together in a flexible way, much like the stanzas of Arabic poetry. Constantly challenging the form, Chouair thought of many of her works as being in constant flux: structures to be altered by the viewer, the elements or her own additions and subtractions over time. Tate Modern until 20th October.
Paul Nash showcases works and correspondences by one of the most original British artists of the first half of the 20th Century. Paul Nash captured an age old idea of England, steeped in mystery and magic, in the forward thinking language of modern art. His paintings of rural Britain's standing stones, lonely copses and grassed over forts are full of eerie surrealist expanses, jarring juxtapositions and semi-abstract forms. The exhibition includes Nash's important early wood engravings and etchings, photographs, prints, collage, correspondence and illustrated books. Highlights include 'Tree Group', 'Promenade', 'Dyke by the Road' and 'Garden Pond', wood engravings that demonstrate Nash's importance as one of the leading British landscape artists of the time; 'Tyger, Tyger', a collage depicting a colour engraving of a tiger set against a photograph of a ruin in the Forest of Dean; examples of Nash's most important illustrated books, such as 'Places', 'Genesis', Shakespeare's 'A Midsommer Nights Dreame', 'Mister Bosphorus and the Muses', and 'Urne Buriall and the Garden of Cyrus', many of which are personally inscribed; and personal letters that provides a fascinating and personal view into friendship and artistic patronage in the 1930s and 1940s. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 30th June.
Souzou: Outsider Art From Japan brings together more than 300 works work made by artists who have received little or no tuition, but produce work for the sake of creation alone, without an audience in mind, and who are perceived to inhabit the margins of mainstream society. 'Souzou' has no direct translation in English but a dual meaning in Japanese: written one way, it means creation, and in another it means imagination. Both meanings allude to a force by which new ideas are born and take shape in the world. In this exhibition, Souzou refers to the practice of 46 self-taught artists living and working within social welfare facilities across Japan. The artists have been diagnosed with a variety of different cognitive, behavioural and developmental disorders or mental illnesses, and are residents or day attendees of specialist care institutions. Located within the complex intersections between health and creativity, work and wellbeing, mainstream and marginality, the exhibition is presented in 6 overlapping sections that explore the processes of making, meaning and the larger social and cultural context of Outsider Art in Japan. Language' and 'Making' offer an introduction to some of the characteristics commonly ascribed to Outsider Art; while 'Representation' and 'Relationships' delve deeper into the subject matter represented within the work; and 'Culture' and 'Possibility' question some of the preconceptions about Outsider Art and move towards a wider understanding of its diversity. Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1, until 30th June.
Gert & Uwe Tobias features the collaborative works of the identical twin Romanian-born contemporary artists. Gert and Uwe Tobias paint, sculpt, make collages, wall paintings, traditional woodcuts and draw with a typewriter. Their works are full of strange characters and creatures drawn from eastern European folk art, combined with diverse influences, from abstract art of the early 20th century to German post-war painting. The Tobias brothers' giant woodcuts and wall paintings draw on modernist geometric abstraction, however they combine line, shape, colour and typography with the narrative images and patterns of folk art, using decorative motifs such as flowers, plants, patterns, embroidery and domestic objects. Their collages are like stage sets on which splashes of pigment and found images of animals or humans are assembled in a performance, and playfulness combines with violence as body parts are fragmented across the picture surface. Their figures also metamorphose into plants or birds, which, macabre yet innocent, lend a surreal dimension to the Tobias' imagery. These elements are often placed against a grid or flat painted background to create dramatic and surreal tableaux. The Tobias brothers have created an installation incorporating the tradition of modernist stage design with geometric shapes and lines in bold colours extending from the works across the walls. There are also new ceramic works, made by taking mass-produced crockery, and adding ceramic extrusions and coloured glazes to everyday plates and vases, creating new and unexpected expressionistic sculptures. The Tobias brothers have produced a unique woodcut exhibition poster, continuing a tradition of creating a woodcut to mark every one of their solo exhibitions. Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1, until 14th June.
In Cloud Country: Abstracting From Nature - From John Constable To Rachel Whiteread is a unique anthology from the 18th to the 21st century that examines what has inspired generations of artists to make observations from nature that lead them to formal or symbolic abstraction. Whether it is atmospheric phenomena, the linear or textural qualities of the botanical world or their political and metaphoric potential, artists' studies from nature offer a breathtaking range of abstractions. These artists have made studies of plants and of land, sea or skyscapes, and then translated what they have seen or felt, into a staggering array of different artistic strategies. The 18th century watercolourist John Sell Cotman uses pencil to capture the dynamism of light falling on trees by a riverbank; the fleeting volumes of cumulous clouds are trapped by John Constable in his intense oil studies; Henry Moore uses the branches of a tree to make vein like traceries of lines; Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone uses drawing to resurrect the tree that has been subsumed in a domestic plank of wood; and Rachel Whiteread takes a symbol of the Arts & Crafts movement, the Tree of Life, and translates it into a contemporary icon. The exhibition brings together some 60 works on paper by some of the world's most acclaimed artists including Thomas Girtin, Henri Matisse, Edgar Degas, Joan Miro, William Morris, Julian Opie, Chris Ofili and JMW Turner. Harewood House, Harewood, Yorkshire, until 30th June.
Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things brings together key designs that have shaped the modern world, revealing intriguing insights found in exceptional, although everyday, items. Six stories are presented offering a diverse look at design, tracing the history and processes of contemporary design. The show includes furniture, product, fashion, transport and architecture, alongside a selection of prototypes, models and specially commissioned films. National Identity looks at the objects that define a nation, such as the phone box, road signage, the post box, the London 2012 logo and a Euro coin. Plastics examines the dominance of plastic in our lives with examples of luxury through to everyday plastics from the last 75 years. Modernism provides a snapshot of a remarkable and dynamic period of design, shown through furniture, products, textiles and architecture, alongside contextual images and documents. An Archetype focuses on the invention and evolution of the design classic The Anglepoise Lamp. A Designer In The Spotlight features the work of contemporary designer Jasper Morrison, whose Handlebar Table is on display for the first time. Style Through The Decades is reflected through fashion from the 70s to the 90s and charts the shift of the shopper from Carnaby Street to Kings Road to Bond Street. Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, London SE1, until 29th January.
Barocci: Brilliance And Grace showcases the remarkable fertility of imagination and the diversity of working methods of the artist who was a pioneer of the Baroque. The exhibition assembles the majority of Federico Barocci's greatest altarpieces and paintings, together with sequences of preparatory drawings, revealing how each picture evolved. From his earliest creations of the 1550s, Barocci challenged pictorial convention by positioning his figures in dynamic spatial arrangements, anticipating by almost half a century the innovations of Baroque art. He was an incessant and even obsessive draughtsman, preparing every composition with prolific studies in every conceivable medium. Fascinated and inspired by people and animals, he infused his compositions with infectious charm and an unparalleled sensitivity to colour. Spiritually attuned by nature, Barocci was predominantly a painter of religious subjects, his approach epitomising the clarity and accessibility required by a Catholic church. Barocci's unique warmth and humanity transformed familiar gospel stories and more unusual visions into transcendent archetypes with universal appeal. Highlights include Barocci's most spectacular altarpiece, 'The Entombment of Christ' from the town of Senigallia; ''Last Supper' painted for Urbino Cathedral; the 'Visitation' from the Chiesa Nuova and the 'Institution of the Eucharist' from Santa Maria sopra Minerva. In addition, the exhibition includes Barocci's finest portraits, smaller devotional paintings, and his only secular narrative, 'Aeneas Flight from Troy', plus more than 65 preparatory drawings, pastel studies and oil sketches, the latter techniques pioneered by Barocci long before they became standard artistic practice. National Gallery until 19th May.
Xu Bing: Landscape Landscript is the first exhibition devoted to the landscapes of the contemporary Chinese artist. Xu Bing's international success rests on his ability to embed complex ideas about art and culture within accessible and playful works that engage the audience. The work that brought Xu Bing initial popular recognition, 'Tianshu or Book from the Sky', a four-volume, stitch-bound book, in the style of classical texts, is filled with what appear to be Chinese characters, but is, in fact, composed in a script invented by him, printed with over 4000 hand carved woodblock characters that have no intelligible meaning. 'Book from the Ground', which exists as a website, an installation, a computer programme, and a printed book, is, conversely, a writing system that can be understood by anyone from any culture, literate or not. Drawing on glyphs or what Xu Bing calls 'pictograms' developed in a variety of contexts over the past half century, from airport signage to international brand logos and 'emoticons', the work tells the story of a day in the life of an ordinary man. Central to all Xu Bing's art is the theme of language: its uses and changes, misunderstandings, and dialogues within and between cultures. His 'Landscript' series uses Chinese characters for landscape features to compose paintings that have the appearance of traditional Chinese landscapes. In this way, characters for 'stone' make up an image of rocks; the character for 'tree' makes up trees; and 'grass' for grass and so on. Xu Bing has produced 4 new pieces for this exhibition, which are displayed alongside his early landscape sketches and prints, and more recent works that depart from traditional landscape styles. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 19th May.
Piranesi's Paestum: Master Drawings Uncovered brings together for the first time since the artist's death all 17 drawings from last great graphic project. The Paestum drawings were the preparatory work for Giovanni Battista Piranesi's Differentes Vues de Pesto, finished by his son Francesco and published posthumously in 1778. They depict views of the three great Doric temples in the former Greek colony of Poseidonia, colonised by the Romans and re-named Paestum. Left abandoned, and later cut off by a malarial swamp, the ruins of the colony were rediscovered in 1746 during the construction of a new road. Its massive and well-preserved Doric temples dedicated to Poseidon, Hera and Athena sparked renewed interest among artists and architects, and inspired drawings, prints, paintings and models, which revolutionised understanding of early Greek Classical architecture. The highly finished drawings reveal insights into the ideas of the graphic artist whose work has influenced designers from Escher to the makers of the Harry Potter films, and sheds new light on the considerable impact of his work on 18th century architectural taste. The Paestum drawings are highly unusual in Piranesi's portfolio. Although he usually made preparatory drawings for his etchings, much of the composition was often worked directly on to the copper plate at the engraving stage. These drawings contain a level of detail very close to the finished prints, and it is thought that perhaps, aware of his failing health, Piranesi included as much detail as possible for his son to finish the work he had begun. He uses the full repertoire of his draughtsmanship to create images that both accurately describe the architecture of the Paestum temples and bring out their evocative, rustic setting. Multi-layering of pencil, brown and grey washes and pen and ink, sometimes with the addition of red chalk or white chalk highlights, creates a layered effect which can be compared to the repeated bitings in the resulting etchings. Sir John Soane Museum, London, until 18th May.