Private View held by Richard Andrews
Shunga: Sex And Pleasure In Japanese Art examines the often tender, funny, beautiful and sexually explicit works of art known as 'spring pictures' (shunga) that were produced between 1600 and 1900 by some of the masters of Japanese art. The exhibition features some 170 works including paintings, sets of prints and illustrated books with text. Shunga were mostly produced within the popular school known as 'pictures of the floating world' (ukiyo-e), by celebrated artists such as Hishikawa Moronobu, Kitagawa Utamaro and Katsushika Hokusai. Luxurious shunga paintings were also produced for ruling class patrons by traditional artists such as members of the Kano school, sometimes influenced by Chinese examples. This was very different from the situation in contemporary Europe, where religious bans and prevailing morality enforced an absolute division between 'art' and 'pornography'. The exhibition explores key questions about what shunga is, how it circulated and to whom, and why was it produced, thus establishing the social and cultural contexts for sex art in Japan and reaffirming the importance of shunga in Japanese art history. In early modern Japan Confucian ethics that focused on duty and restraint were promoted in education for all classes, and laws on adultery, were severe. There were also many class and gender inequalities, and a large and exploitative commercial sex industry (the 'pleasure quarters'). However, the values promoted in shunga are generally positive towards sexual pleasure for all participants. Although men were the main producers and consumers, it is clear that women also were an important audience. The custom of presenting shunga to women in a marriage trousseau seems to have been common, and some works seem to have been created more for women than for men. During the late 19th and 20th centuries, shunga was all but removed from popular and scholarly memory in Japan and became taboo. British Museum until 5th January.
Mystery, Magic And Midnight Feasts: The Many Adventures Of Enid Blyton is the first major exhibition to celebrate the life and work of Britain's most popular - and yet most reviled - author of books for children. The display aims to reveal Blyton's creative imagination and the events that shaped her life and storytelling, in the series she created, such as Noddy, the Famous Five, the Secret Seven and Malory Towers. Enid Blyton was the best selling English language author of the 20th century, and remains one of the most popular writers of all time. In a career that spanned 5 decades, she wrote an astonishing 700+ books and some 4,500 short stories. At the height of her powers, from 1951 to 1954, Blyton produced 192 books, an average of one a week. The books, which were often serialised, captivated children in the same way that Harry Potter has in recent times. Among the highlights of the exhibition are: original hand corrected typescripts including Five Have Plenty of Fun, Last Term At Malory Towers, Look Out, Secret Seven and Cheer Up Little Noddy; personal and nature diaries spanning the 1920s, 1930s and 1960s; Harmsen van der Beek's first Noddy illustration, and a letter to Enid Blyton; personal family photographs, including Blyton as a child; a recently discovered unpublished typescript of Mr Tumpy's Caravan; and her famous typewriter; together with recreations of the Secret Seven's legendary Shed, a Malory Towers classroom, and a life size Noddy car that visitors can sit in. Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books, Ouseburn Valley Newcastle upon Tyne, until February.
Attack: Histories Of British Iconoclasm is the first exhibition to explore the history of physical attacks on art in Britain, with examples from the 16th century to the present day. Iconoclasm describes the deliberate breaking of images, and the show explores 500 years of assaults on art, with paintings, sculpture and archival material, examining how and why icons, symbols and monuments have been attacked for religious, political or aesthetic motives. State-sanctioned religious iconoclasm of the 16th and 17th centuries is represented by medieval stained glass panels removed from the windows of Canterbury Cathedral, exhibited alongside Thomas Johnson's painting of the Cathedral's interior showing Puritan iconoclasts in action. Suffragette attacks on cultural heritage are shown by John Singer Sargent's 'Henry James', slashed at the Royal Academy, with archival documentation of the attacks, as well as police surveillance photography of the militant protagonists. Other actions against figures and symbols of political power include fragments of the statue of William III and of Nelson's Pillar, destroyed in Dublin in 1928 and 1966, and fragments of Joseph Wilton's statue of George III, blown up during the American War of Independence. Art that stimulates aesthetic outrage is represented by Carl Andre's 'Equivalent VIII' (the legendary Tate 'bricks'), the subject of not only verbal vitriol but also physical attack. As well as attacks on art, the show reveals how for some artists destruction can be utilised as a creative force and have transformed images into new works with new meanings. A piano destroyed by Raphael Montanez Ortiz during the Destruction in Art Symposium is on display together with an audio recording of the event, as well as works by Gustav Metzger, John Latham and Yoko Ono. Tate Britain until 5th January.
Pearls explores the history of pearls from the early Roman Empire to the present day. The exhibition examines how pearls have been employed over centuries as a symbol of status and wealth, and how tastes vary in different cultures. Over 200 pieces of jewellery and works of art are on display, showcasing the extraordinary variety of colour and shape of natural and cultured pearls. The introductory section reveals the working methods of pearl divers and the trading practices of pearl merchants, together with examples of early experiments in producing cultured pearls attempted in the 18th century by Carl Linnaeus, and scientific instruments used in the first half of the 20th century to distinguish between the natural and the cultured pearl. Among the highlights of the jewels on show are a Roman gold hair ornament, set with pearls, emeralds and sapphires; a pearl-drop earring worn by Charles I at his execution; the 17th century Queen Mary II pearls; a set of buttons finely enamelled and framed with pearls worn by George III; the Dagmar necklace given to Princess Alexandra on her marriage to the future King Edward VII; a pendant locket with black pearl commemorating Prince Albert; an Icon with Virgin and Child decorated with Russian freshwater pearls; the Rosebery pearl and diamond tiara; an Imperial robe from China studded with pearls; an Art Deco brooch designed by Jean Fouquet; a necklace of pearls given to Marilyn Monroe by Joe DiMaggio; and Elizabeth Taylor's Bulgari pearl-drop pendant earrings. The diversity of contemporary jewellery with pearls is illustrated by the designs of the Munich jeweller Stefan Hemmerle using rare melo pearls; unusual figurative creations by Geoffrey Rowlandson; and the complex use of pearls in a necklace by Sam Tho Duong. Victoria & Albert Museum until 19th January.
Thomas Scheibitz: One-Time Pad features new and recent work by one of the leading figures in the current generation of German artists. Thomas Scheibitz began developing a new form of conceptual painting during his studies at the School of Art in Dresden in the early 1990s. The exhibition brings together over 200 works, including painting, sculpture, drawing and works on paper, tracing the conceptual and painterly development of his career, with a particular focus on the human figure and the determination of form between figuration and abstraction. Scheibitz draws upon motifs and themes from the everyday and popular culture and architecture, but he also takes inspiration from art historical imagery such as Renaissance paintings or Medieval engravings, which he places in new perceptual contexts. He feeds his visual memory with a collection of found material, including photos, drawings, newspaper clippings, memos, book pages and objects, filters these through his thought processes, and retrieves them as a basis for the forms and structures of his paintings and sculptures. The exhibition includes an archive of Scheibitz's source material and models together with a new specially commissioned sculptural piece. The title of the exhibition (also the title of a painting), takes its name from a method of encryption that is used to transmit secret messages and is considered to be impossible to crack if used correctly. It alludes to the coding process Scheibitz employs in his work that audiences are invited to unlock. Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, until 3rd November.
After Life features poignant and surprising photographic portraits of extinct and endangered animals. Fascinated by taxidermy since childhood, photographer Sean Dooley brings to life the stories of the earth's lost and fading species through his pictures of specimens preserved in musems and private collections across the country. Each portrait captures a species that is losing, or has lost, the fight for survival. Exploring the consequences of man's actions, and inactions, in taking species for granted, this series of striking images includes portraits of a baby polar bear, the extinct passenger pigeon, the critically endangered ruffed lemur, and the Lord Howe swamphen, now extinct, of which there are only two (stuffed) examples in the world. Because of the rarity of these specimens, sometimes the last remnants of a particular species, they are important, either as sources of knowledge that can help conservation, or as reminders of creatures that no one will ever see again. Though often beautiful, the images underline that these examples are an extremely poor substitute for having the animals live in the wild. The exhibition also includes Dooley's photographs from BioBlitz, the museum's review of its Natural History collections. These images capture and record the process of reviewing some 250,000 specimens, from chimpanzee skeletons to a cupboard full of stuffed owls, over a 12 month period, giving an insight into the diverse collection and how better to understand and use it in future. Hornuman Museum, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23, until 2nd March.
Australia is the most significant survey of Australian art ever mounted in Britain. Focusing on the influence of the landscape, the exhibition spans from 1800 to the present day, and features 146 artists with over 200 works, including paintings, drawings, photography, watercolours and multimedia. The story of Australian art is inextricably linked to its landscape: an ancient land of dramatic beauty, a source of production, enjoyment, relaxation and inspiration, yet seemingly loaded with mystery and danger. For Australian artists, this deep connection with the landscape has provided a rich seam of inspiration for centuries. The exhibition maps the period of rapid and intense change, from the impact of the first settlers and colonisation on the indigenous people to the pioneering nation-building of the 19th century, through to the enterprising urbanisation of the last century. Reflecting the vastness of the land and the diversity of its people, early, as well as contemporary Aboriginal art sits alongside the work of the first colonial settlers, immigrant artists of the 20th century and the work of some of today's most established Australian artists. Highlights include Frederick McCubbin's 'The Pioneer'; four paintings from Sidney Nolan's 'Ned Kelly' series; Eugene von Guerard's 'Bush Fire'; Rover Thomas's 'Cyclone Tracy'; Emily Kame Kngwarreye's 'Big Yam Dreaming'; Grace Cossington Smith's 'The Bridge in Building'; Charles Meere's 'Australian Beach Pattern'; and Shaun Gladwell's video 'Approach to Mundi Mundi'; plus 'Fire and Water', a newly commissioned work by Judy Watson that aims to evoke a sense of the distinctiveness of the Australian landscape whilst considering the art historical developments and contributions of Australian art across the last two centuries. Royal Academy of Arts until 8th December.
Leonardo da Vinci: Mechanics Of Man 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, 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, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, until 10th November.
Only In England: Photographs By Tony Ray-Jones And Martin Parr is the inaugural exhibition in the Media Space, which will explore relationships between, and lesser-known histories of, photography, science, art and technology. The display features over 100 works by the British photographer Tony Ray-Jones alongside 50 rarely seen early black and white photographs, The Non-Conformists, by Martin Parr. Fascinated by the eccentricities of English social customs, Tony Ray-Jones spent the latter half of the 1960s travelling across the country, photographing what he saw as a disappearing way of life, in seaside towns, on the streets, at tea dances, and at Glyndebourne, Eton, Wimbledon and Crufts, creating a body of photographic work documenting English identity - eccentric and still divided by class and tradition. Humorous yet melancholy, these photographs were a departure from anything else being produced at the time, and have had a lasting influence on the development of British photography. In 1970, inspired by Ray-Jones, Martin Parr produced The Non-Conformists, shot in black and white in Hebden Bridge and the surrounding Calder Valley, documenting the variety of non-conformist chapels and the communities he encountered. This project started within two years of Ray-Jones's early death and demonstrates his legacy and influence. Around 50 of Ray-Jones vintage prints are on display, alongside an equal number of photographs that have never previously been printed. Martin Parr was invited to select these new works from the 2,700 contact sheets and negatives in Ray-Jones's archive. Science Museum until 16th March.
The Lyons Teashops Lithographs: Art In A Time of Austerity 1946 - 1955 features lithographs commissioned by catering giant J Lyons & Co to combat a wartime decline in the interior decor of their famous teashops, and a post-war austerity lack of decorating material. War artists, Royal College of Art alumni, and well-known and emerging practitioners were chosen to produce tasteful works of art that would appeal to the typical Lyons Teashop customer. Through the company's imaginative approach to interior decoration, the cream of modern British art reached a wider public audience in the 200 Teashops nationwide. Three series of lithographs were commissioned, including works by artists such as Edward Bawden, John Piper, David Gentleman, John Minton, Ruskin Spear, William Scott, Duncan Grant, John Nash and L S Lowry. The exhibition comprises 40 lithographs, together with a selection of the original paintings and working drawings. Whilst some of the artists were able to produce their own lithographs, others created watercolour, oil, gouache, pen and ink, or collaged works that were then turned into the final lithograph. Presenting a very particular British idyll, the lithographs depict urban, industrial, rural and coastal landscapes, domestic interiors, street scenes and still-lifes. Pictures of leisure pursuits such as billiards, cricket, fishing, punting, boxing and piano-playing vie with scenes of a railway station, a hotel lobby and fishmonger's shop, while apple pickers in a Kent orchard contrast with yeoman warders at the Tower of London and afternoon tea in Henley. Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, until 22nd October.
Green Fuse: The Work Of Dan Pearson examines the career of one of the most significant landscape and garden designers working today. The exhibition traces the roots of Dan Pearson's work as a plantsman and designer, looking at his education and influences and focusing on a number of key projects and their inspiration. Pearson is equally at ease designing a garden for private clients as designing a woodland landscape for a space-age house in the forest outside Moscow with Zaha Hadid, restoring a Lutyens/Jekyll estate as creating an ambitious new estate in Devon, or creating a city park in the heart of King's Cross as a mountainside ecological park at the northernmost tip of Japan. The exhibition is an immersive, multimedia experience where space, materials and craftmanship are as carefully considered as rhythm, colour, texture and seasonality in planting to create spaces which are emotionally uplifting and have a distinctive sense of place. It examines the fundamental importance of the idea of sense of place in Pearson's work, the intuitive quality of his informally trained design eye and the horticulturally rigorous, yet painterly quality of his plantings. Starting with the most formative early influences nurtured at his childhood home, the display builds a picture of how the accumulation of education, inspiration and experience led Pearson to create the iconic garden at Home Farm for Frances Mossman at the age of 22, restore the landscape at Althorp House, following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and work on the landscape for the Millennium Dome with Richard Rogers. In addition, Pearson has created a new planting design for the border in front of the museum, using elements of his work at the Tokachi Millennium Forest, employing a mix of woodland floor species, with dramatic accents and a sculptural element. Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1, until 20th October.
Lowry And The Painting Of Modern Life aims to re-assess the achievements of Britain's pre-eminent painter of the industrial city. The exhibition of over 90 works demonstrates L S Lowry's connections and debts to French painting of the later 19th century, and a determination to make art out of the realities of the emerging modern city. It reveals what Lowry learned from the symbolist townscapes of his French born teacher Adolphe Valette, and demonstrates parallels with the painters of modern life Vincent van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat and Maurice Utrillo, drawing upon these artists' continuous search for ways to depict the unlovely facts of the city's edges and the landscape made by industrialisation. For Lowry modern painting needed to represent the remaining rituals of public life: football matches and protest marches, evictions and fist-fights, workers going to and from the mill. Works such as 'Pit Tragedy', 'An Accident' and 'The Fever Van' demonstrate his unique engagement with street life, and his development of a cast of characters portraying the ways in which his subjects' lives unfold and become unstuck, charting the unpredictability and unsteadiness of working-class life. Other highlights include 'Coming Out of School', 'The Pond', 'Ancoats Hospital Outpatients Hall', 'The Cripples', Piccadilly Circus, London' and 'Excavating in Manchester'. The show also presents for the first time all 8 of his less well known, late industrial panoramas, where a leap up to 'history painting' size indicates the measure of his final ambition. Tate Britain until 20th October.