News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th May 2012


Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist features the little known anatomical studies of the human body by 'the' Renaissance man, which were never published in his lifetime. The exhibition comprises 87 anatomical drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, the largest collection to ever go on show, including a detailed portrayal in red chalk of a child in the breech position; pencil drawings of the human skull; a series of cross sections of the human shoulder in motion; a set of views of the inner workings of the human hand; and a detailed drawing of the cardiovascular system, compiled in several stages, sketched first in red and then black chalk, with his fingerprints still visible on the paper. This body of work, driven by Leonardo's desire to be 'true to nature' saw him dissect some 30 corpses, from which he compiled hundreds of sheets of drawings of the human body, inventing biological drawing as he did so. However, his research stayed among his private papers until 1900, when the drawings were finally published and understood by the scientific world. Leonardo's work as an anatomist was deeply serious, incredibly detailed and hugely important, showing that as well as being a consummate painter and inventor, he was also a great scientist. Had they been published in his time, he would have been the most important figure ever to publish on human anatomy, and would be regarded now on par with Galileo or Newton. These drawings have been in the possession of the English monarch's Royal Collection since 1690, and are the largest surviving group of these works. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 7th October.

Spencer's Earthly Paradise celebrates the 50th anniversary of the opening of the gallery dedicated to the work of the idiosyncratic British painter. Stanley Spencer lived and worked for most of his life in Cookham, and the gallery has a particular significance, as it is a former Wesleyan chapel, where he worshipped as a child, and is recorded in one of the drawings in the show: 'Ecstasy in a Wesleyan Chapel'. The exhibition, comprising over 50 works, includes a series of self-portraits ranging from his dramatic first 'Self-Portrait' in oils of 1914 to his final 'Self-Portrait' of 1959; religious works, such as 'The Last Supper', set in a Cookham malt-house 'Sarah Tubb and the Heavenly Visitors', showing Granny Tubb kneeling to pray in Cookham High Street fearing the world was going to end after the appearance of Halley's Comet, 'St Francis and the Birds' and 'Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta'; local and domestic works such as 'Mending Cowls, Cookham' and 'Domestic Scenes: At the Chest of Drawers'; and The Astor Scrapbook drawings, featuring Elsie Munday the Spencers' maid, Patricia Preece his second wife and Daphne Charlton with whom he had an affair. Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham, until 4th November.

Signs, Symbols, Secrets: An Illustrated Guide To Alchemy reveals the power and intricacy of alchemical art and attempts to interpret the hidden meanings behind the symbols. The quest for the philosophers' stone was a major preoccupation of the early modern world. This precious substance was said to transform base metals into silver and gold, heal sickness, and unlock the mysteries of God and nature. Its recipe was a closely guarded secret and a bewildering array of signs and symbols were used, both figuratively and allegorically, to convey key processes and ideas in the search for the fabled stone. This exhibition follows the theme of a recipe using the same sources devised and decoded by the alchemists themselves, comprising striking images from the 16th to the 18th centuries. At its heart is a newly discovered manuscript: a Ripley scroll. These rare scrolls include some of the most complex and fascinating alchemical imagery in existence, and for the first time, this object can be viewed alongside other selected texts and images. Its rich symbolism offers clues, both practical and theoretical, for the creation of the philosophers' stone. Only 23 Ripley scrolls, named after the English alchemist George Ripley, are known to exist. Scholars believe that all the surviving examples are copies and variations upon a lost 15th century original. The scrolls range in size, but are all too long to be viewed and understood in a single glance. Scholars are still investigating how they are meant to be read and used. It is possible that the original scroll was created for a wealthy patron interested in alchemy. Over time, the scrolls have become prized for the quality of their imagery. Science Museum until 27th April.


Bauhaus: Art As Life explores the world's most famous modern art and design school, and delves into the subjects at its heart: art, design, people, society and culture. From its avant-garde arts and crafts beginnings the Bauhaus shifted towards a more radical model of learning uniting art and technology. A driving force behind Modernism, it further sought to change society in the aftermath of the First World War, to find a new way of living. The exhibition traces the life of the school from its founding by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919, and its expressionist-influenced roots, to the embrace of art and industry and subsequent move to a purpose built campus in Dessau in 1925 under the direction of Gropius and then Hannes Meyer. Finally it looks to the Bauhaus' brief period in Berlin, led by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and its dramatic closure in 1933, under pressure by the Nazis. Bringing together more than 400 works, the show features a rich array of painting, sculpture, architecture, film, photography, furniture, graphics, product design, textiles, ceramics and theatre by such Bauhaus masters as Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, Marianne Brandt, Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, Johannes Itten, Hannes Meyer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Oskar Schlemmer, and students including Anni Albers, T Lux Feininger, Kurt Kranz, Xanti Schawinsky and Alma Siedhoff-Buscher. Significant works in the exhibition include Laszlo Moholy-Nagy's 'Construction in Enamel 1 (EM1)', the largest in a series of three famously known as the 'Telephone Pictures'; Wassily Kandinsky's 'Circles in a Circle', two bands of colour intersect in a thick black circle containing 26 overlapping circles of varying colours and sizes; Paul Klee's watercolour 'Doppelturm' with its geometric forms in pink and green hues; and Gunta Stolzl's 2m high wall hanging, 'Funf Chore (Five Choirs)'. Barbican Gallery until 12th August.

Taking Time: Chardin's Boy Building A House Of Cards And Other Paintings is a concise and concentrated selection of genre scenes and servant paintings by the 18th century French master of the still life, seen together for the first time. Rejecting the florid excesses and mythological subjects which typified the art of his time, Jean-Simeon Chardin instead captured moments of quiet concentration and absorption in simple, everyday activities. His works have a static, reflective quality which gained him the nickname 'the painter of silence'. This exhibition brings together 11 paintings and the same number of works on paper. At the core of the works on show are 4 paintings of young bourgeois boys playing with packs of cards. This was a favourite subject of Chardin's, and one that he returned to time and time again, perpetually finding new variations on the same theme. The works demonstrate the shifting meanings that arise when individual paintings are paired with different companions. Accompanying these are other images of servants engaged in their work, which distill the modesty and dignity of the people they depict. All the works in the exhibition were painted within a few years of each other, between around 1735 and 1738, during a brief period when Chardin interrupted his still life painting to explore the possibilities of figure subjects. Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, until 15th July.

Victorian Visions: Pre-Raphaelite And Nineteenth Century Art brings together paintings from an exceptional collection and a unique setting. Over the past 25 years the Australian businessman John Schaeffer has been one of the world's most prominent collectors of British 19th century art, and for the first time in Britain a selection of works from his collection is on show to the public. Located on the edge of Holland Park in Kensington, Leighton House was the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton. Built to designs by George Aitchison, it was extended and embellished over a period of 30 years to create a private palace of art. Rather than being displayed as in a gallery, the 23 paintings are hung throughout the historic interiors of the house, fulfilling its original intention. Among the highlights are exceptional works by Leighton himself, including the colour sketch for his celebrated 'Flaming June', Solomon J Solomon's 'The Birth of Eve', John William Waterhouse's 'Mariamne Leaving the Judgement Seat of Herod', Frank Dicksee's 'Chivalry', and others by Leighton's contemporaries including William Holman Hunt, G F Watts, and sculptor Alfred Gilbert. Leighton House until 26th September.

Kensington Palace has reopened following a 2 year £12m refurbishment of both the palace and grounds. Originally built as a country house for a minor aristocrat, but much altered and extended, for 325 years it has been - and still is - a home for many generations of members of the Royal family. Highlights include the King's State Apartments, with the Privy Chamber, which has a magnificent ceiling painted by William Kent in 1723; the Queen's State Apartments, with the drawing room that Mary II filled with porcelain; the King's Gallery, decorated for King George I in 1727, and home of the cream of the Royal painting collection; and the Sunken Garden, laid out during the reign of Edward VII, re-creating the formal gardens that existed at the palace in the 17th century.

Victoria Revealed is an exhibition that traces Victoria's journey from her birth, and childhood at Kensington Palace, through young queen enthralled with a new husband, to grieving matriarch and ruler of a vast empire. On display are iconic, beautiful and often deeply personal objects, from Victoria's simple white silk wedding gown, to the dolls she made, dressed and named as a little girl, excerpts from her journals, letters and reports from contemporary commentators, alongside paintings, photography and sculpture by her favourite artists. The exhibition also explores the life of Prince Albert, showing him as a passionate, moral individual who was deeply involved in the life of the nation. Until 26th March.

Diana: Glimpses Of A Modern Princess comprises a selection of dresses worn by Diana, Princess of Wales, from the famous black strapless evening gown by Emanuel, which has never been on public display before, to a sleek black cocktail dress by Gianni Versace which she wore several years later. They are displayed alongside fashion illustrations and photographs, that reflect some important and memorable moments in her public life. Until 2nd September.

Children's Lives traces the changing nature of childhood in Birmingham from the 18th century to the present day. The exhibition explores the relationships of children with their families and peers, the experiences of children in school, at work, during wartime, and in the hands of various welfare institutions, as well as the ways children have imagined the world. This is done through fine art, photography, film, objects, toys, sound archives and documentary sources. The exhibition aims to bring the voice of the child out of the archive and the museum collections and draw the connections between the past and the present into sharper focus. It also shows how the world of the child has been constructed by adults. There is an element on children 'on the move' including refugees and evacuees, also featuring Middlemore Homes, which sent more than 6000 children to Canada and Australia between1874 and the Second World War. The final part of the display has been curated by young people from two local secondary schools, who have created their own responses to past children's experiences, and present their stories of what it is to be young in the 21st century, creating an archive through film and oral history. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, until 10th June.

Cutty Sark, the world's last surviving tea clipper and one of Britain's greatest maritime treasures, has reopened following an extensive conservation project. The 're-launch' is the culmination of 6 years' work and one of the most complex conservation projects ever undertaken on a historic ship, following a devastating fire. It has succeeded in rescuing Cutty Sark and preventing her collapse, whilst preserving as much of the ship's original fabric from the period of her working life as possible. In addition, the ship has been raised 11ft, relieving the keel of the weight of the ship and preserving her unique shape. Now, for the first time, visitors can walk underneath the ship and view the lines of her hull, revealing the innovative design which was the secret to her success, enabling her to reach the record breaking speed of 17 ½ knots (20 mph) from Sydney to London. This space, under a glass 'wave' also showcases a collection of over 80 ships' figureheads, never before displayed in its entirety. The ship's weather deck and rigging have been painstakingly restored to their original specification, with 11 miles of rigging supporting the 3 masts. Below deck visitors can explore Cutty Sark's rich and varied history through new interactive displays. Launched in 1869 from Dumbarton, Cutty Sark visited most major ports around the world. She carried cargo ranging from the finest teas to gunpowder and from whisky to buffalo horns, and made her name as the fastest ship of her era during her time in the wool trade. Many of the tea clippers that sailed the China Seas during the 19th century lasted for only a few years and only 7 saw the 20th century. By the mid 1920s Cutty Sark was the only one still afloat. Cutty Sark, King William Walk, Greenwich, continuing.


Lucian Freud: Portraits is the first exhibition to focus on the portraiture work of one of the most important and influential British artists of his generation. Paintings of people were central to the work of Lucian Freud, and this exhibition features 130 paintings and works on paper, spanning over 70 years. The show includes 'Portrait of the Hound', the unfinished painting of his assistant David Dawson and his dog Eli, on which Freud was working until shortly before his death last year. Freud's portraits are hard, disquieting things, attuned to the tough reality of bare, veiny sprawling bodies, and the jaundiced walls, gummy sheets and cruel furniture around them. Concentrating on particular periods and groups of sitters to show Freud's stylistic development and technical virtuosity, the exhibition includes both iconic and rarely seen portraits of the artist's lovers, friends and family. Described by Freud as 'people in my life', these portraits demonstrate the psychological drama and unrelenting observational intensity of his work. Sitters in the exhibition include family members, particularly his mother Lucie, artists such as Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, Michael Andrews, John Minton and David Hockney, and the performance artist Leigh Bowery. Bowery's friend Sue Tilley, the 'Benefits Supervisor', who was immortalised by Freud in a series of monumental paintings in the 1990s, is also featured. Other sitters on view include photographer Harry Diamond, Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Andrew Parker Bowles, Baron Rothschild, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza and Francis Wyndham. In addition, the exhibition also highlights the recurring importance of the self-portrait in Freud's work. National Portrait Gallery until 27th May.

Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan is a retrospective of the work of one of the most influential Italian artists of the 20th century. The exhibition highlights Alighiero Boetti's exploration of numeric, linguistic and classificatory systems, as well as his engagement with people and politics. Boetti has most commonly been associated with the Italian Arte Povera artists of the late 1960s, and while this exhibition begins with his objects made from everyday materials, including 'Stack' and 'Little Coloured Sticks', it also reveals his early scepticism about art movements through such works as his mock 'Manifesto'. In the late 1960s Boetti began to explore the figure of the artist, showing how it embodied the dual roles of divine shaman and public showman. He went on to represent himself as a pair of twins and changed his name to Alighiero E Boetti (Alighiero and Boetti). Alongside his early self portraits, the exhibition includes the late 'Self-Portrait', and a life size bronze cast of the artist spraying his heated head with a hose. Boetti's engagement with geopolitics and his travels to Ethiopia, Guatemala and Afghanistan is reflected the 'Mappa', world maps, in which each country is coloured with its national flag, recording political change across the globe from 1971 to 1994, charting the independence of African states, and the break-up of the USSR. Boetti's lifelong fascination with games, numbers, words, dates and sequences is also featured, in works such as 'Dama', which uses a chequerboard pattern to evoke an absurd domino-like game; 'Ordine e disordine', which comprises 100 multicoloured word squares dispersed on the wall; several biro drawings in which Boetti's favourite phrases are encoded; the embroideries 'The Thousand Longest Rivers in the World, and 'The Hour Tree'; and a set of rugs whose patterns are based on numeric systems. Tate Modern until 27th May.

Mondrian || Nicholson: In Parallel tells the story of the creative relationship between two 20th century artists. The exhibition unites a group of major paintings and reliefs by Piet Mondrian and Ben Nicholson to explore the parallel artistic paths charted by them during the 1930s, when they were leading forces of abstract art in Europe. Their friendship culminated with Mondrian moving from Paris to London in 1938, at Nicholson's invitation, and the two working in neighbouring studios in Hampstead, when for a short period London was an international centre of modernist art. The works in the exhibition each have a particular historical significance. Paintings and reliefs that were shown together in exhibitions or included in avant-garde publications during the 1930s are reunited, and other works were originally bought by influential members of their circle in London, or were produced whilst the artists occupied nearby studios. The avant-garde publication, Circle, which Nicholson co-edited, aiming to unite an international modernist movement of artists, designers and architects with an ambitious agenda to revitalise modern civilisation, opened in 1937 with a sequence of Mondrian's paintings paired with a group of Nicholson's white reliefs. This exhibition reveals how each artist was driven by a profound belief in the potential of abstract art to create new forms of beauty and visual power. In addition to the paintings and reliefs, a selection of archival material, including photographs and a group of Mondrian's and Nicholson's letters, offer further insights into their relationship. Courtauld Gallery, London, until 20th May.