News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th February 2010


Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective celebrates the extraordinary life and work of one of the most powerful American painters of the 20th century, who was a seminal figure in the formation of Abstract Expressionism. The exhibition includes over 150 paintings and drawings from across Arshile Gorky's career, and a handful of rarely seen sculptures. The Armenian born artist arrived in America in 1920, fleeing persecution in his home country, where he adopted the name Arshile Gorky with reference to the Russian writer Maxim Gorky. He studied the Modern European masters in books and galleries, teaching himself art by combining this with art classes, in Boston and New York. Gorky's early still-lives show his reliance upon the examples of Cezanne, Picasso, Miro and others, but his portraits in the 1920s and 1930s, especially the two versions of 'The Artist and His Mother', show how he poured his personal experiences and studies into a highly individual realism. During the 1940s Gorky encountered Surrealists exiled from wartime Europe, and stimulated by their ideas of free flowing, automatic painting, he rapidly developed the style for which he became famous. Seminal works such as 'Waterfall' are evocative, layered, and translucent, with a liquid glowing quality. Other highlights in the exhibition include 'Landscape Table', and paintings from the 'Garden in Sochi' and 'The Betrothal' series. Gorky's characteristic paintings of this final period include biomorphic forms in strong colours, shifting abstract elements and the energetic line that he developed in his drawings. Tate Modern until 3rd May.

The Greek And Roman Gallery has reopened following a £950,000, 18 month period of conservation, research and redisplay, which has transformed one of the museum's most popular collections. Prior to this, the gallery had remained fundamentally unchanged since the 1960s. The redesign creates a modern setting that complements the gallery's 19th century architecture, and vastly improves object display, lighting and layout. It has been undertaken in collaboration with historians and classical archaeologists from the University of Cambridge's Classics Faculty, and reflects some of the questions that are being currently asked about the ancient world. The collection includes Greek and Roman sculpture, from a portrait of Plato to an enormous faceless 'caryatid' figure; intricately carved sarcophagi; sacred figurines; funerary items; and everyday objects, from dress pins and helmets, to a 3,000 year old cosmetics box and a Roman 'Swiss Army knife', and even an example of ancient graffiti. Also showcased are treasures from Emperor Hadrian's vast country palace at Tivoli, near Rome, including a marble head of the leader's young lover Antinous, produced after the youth's death by drowning in the Nile, and a black marble relief depicting the adventures of the Argonauts and Odysseus. Some of these treasures are on public view for the first time following conservation. The new display is arranged in a loosely chronological order, and a map and timeline show the close relationship between the Greek and Roman worlds, giving a greater sense of the time and place these objects came from. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, continuing.

The Half showcases the work of Simon Annand, a photographer of leading actors in the West End for the last 20 years. The exhibition provides a rare glimpse into the dressing rooms of actors in their private time before the show. 'The Half' is the half an hour before the curtain goes up, during which actors make up, dress, and focus their concentration for the performance, and is strictly private. Whatever has gone on during the day, the actor must use this time to make a transition into the fictional character of the play. These photographs pay tribute to the dedication of stage actors, and reveal not only technical skills, but also aspects of a very personal nightly ritual (not to mention the less than glamorous surroundings). Among those featured in the display are Gillian Anderson, Cate Blanchett, Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Kiera Knightley, Jude Law, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave, Kevin Spacey and Rachel Weisz. Victoria & Albert Museum until 11th April.


Van Doesburg And The International Avant-Garde: Constructing A New World is the first major exhibition in Britain devoted to the Dutch artist who was a pivotal figure of the European avant-garde. Theo van Doesburg, who worked in art, design and text, founded the far reaching movement and magazine De Stijl. This artistic movement of painters, architects and designers sought to build a new society in the aftermath of the First World War, advocating an international style of art and design, based on a strict geometry of horizontals and verticals. Van Doesburg travelled extensively in Europe in the 1920s, making connections and collaborating with avant-garde contemporaries. This exhibition explores van Doesburg's role as promoter of Dutch Neoplasticism, his Dada personality, his efforts to influence the Bauhaus, his links with international Constructivists, and his creation of the group Art Concret. The show features over 350 works, including van Doesburg's rarely seen Counter-Composition paintings and designs for the Cafe Aubette in Stasbourg, and furniture such as Rietveld's iconic Red-Blue chair, as well as typography, magazines, stained glass, film, music, sculpture and more. In addition there are works by key artists in the movement, such as Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Piet Mondrian, Francis Picabia, Gerrit Rietveld, Kurt Schwitters and Sophie Taeuber. Tate Modern until 16th May.

Anderson & Low: Circus features a series of 50 striking images of members of an international circus troupe working on Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low show the artists both on stage performing, revealing their power, strength, beauty and skill, and in individual studies, set amongst the amusement park rides, shorn of the false glamour, revealing an aura of sad and surreal awkwardness. The photographs are a study in the way performance and costume shape identity. They go deeper than the average performance photograph, seeming to capture something of the soul of the sitter. Despite the flamboyant costumes and extravagant make up the images exude a sort of reverential hush. The supple bodies of the performers are frozen by the camera into precise sculptural forms, revealing their physical reality with a special intensity. Anderson and Lowe use light very carefully, employing high key chiaroscuro to create unsettling visual drama in steep relief and dark swathes of shadow. The light force comes from outside the frame, lending an unreal otherworldliness that exalts the extraordinary power learnt, owned and expressed by the performer. In addition, Anderson and Low have taken their first step into video art, with a loop of several films staggered over three screens, to show an acrobat coiling and twisting his way downward from the ceiling on strips of silk. The Lowry, Salford, until 11th April.

Dinosaurs Unleashed is the Britain's largest animatronic, life sized dinosaur experience, with 24 full size dinosaurs in a new outdoor interactive enclosure - in Oxford Street, opposite the Marble Arch Marks & Spencer. It is a Jurassic Park style prehistoric adventure on a truly epic scale, offering the chance to get up close and personal with the largest and most fearsome creatures the Earth has ever seen, walking alongside the giants of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Visitors can meet Stegosaurus, Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, marvel at massive Diplodocus three times the length and double the height of a double-decker bus, come face to face with infamous Tyrannosaurus rex, taller than the tallest giraffe, and tremble at the sight of small but vicious Velociraptors. A prehistoric aquarium using the latest computer graphics brings the prehistoric underwater world to life. Alternatively, visitors can put themselves in the picture in the 'scream' experience or in the 'green screen' theatre The exhibition is entirely based on current scientific thinking, with expert paleontologists ensuring that it is as accurate as possible. As they say: it's the family day out that London's been waiting 65 million years for. Parklife, 455-497 Oxford Street W1, until 30th April.

The Real Van Gogh: The Artist And His Letters for the first time, views the artist's paintings and drawings from the perspective of his correspondence. Over 35 of van Gogh's original letters, rarely exhibited to the public due to their fragility, are on display, together with around 65 paintings and 30 drawings, which express the principal themes to be found within the correspondence. Thus the exhibition offers a unique opportunity to gain an insight into the complex mind of Vincent van Gogh. During his ten year artistic career, his output was prodigious: over 800 paintings and 1,200 drawings. Van Gogh was a compulsive and eloquent correspondent. The majority of his letters were written to his brother Theo, an art dealer who supported him throughout his artistic career, and other artists, notably Anton van Rappard, Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin. The originality of his ideas about art, nature and literature, combined with his deep understanding of these subjects, make van Gogh's letters much more than a personal expression of feelings: they attain the status of literature. Together the letters create a 'self-portrait', and reveal the ways in which he defined himself as an artist and as a human being. The letter sketches that van Gogh frequently used to show a work in progress or a completed work are a fascinating part of the correspondence, and many are shown alongside the paintings or drawings on which they are based. Highlights include 'Self-portrait as an Artist', 'The Yellow House', 'Still-life: with a Plate of Onions', 'Van Gogh's Chair', 'Gauguin's Chair', 'Landscape Near Montmajour With a Train', 'Wheat Fields After the Rain' and 'Entrance to the Public Gardens in Arles'. Royal Academy of Arts until 18th April.

Sargent, Sickert, Spencer focuses on three of the most original painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although at first glance the lives and careers of John Singer Sargent, Walter Sickert and Stanley Spencer appear disparate, this exhibition shows that their lives and careers intersected in a number of ways. Comprising over 70 works, from landscapes and portraiture, to interiors and nudes, and including little seen sketches and studies, the show examines what divided these painters stylistically, and what united them artistically. The exhibition explores a number of themes: Artists On The Move: with images of locations as diverse as Sargent's Jerusalem, Corfu, Sicily and Majorca, Sickert's Paris, Dieppe and London and Spencer's Sarajevo, with particular focus upon Sargent and Sickert's views of Venice; War Zones, with depictions of soldiers and military life by Sargent and Spencer, and their friends and associates, including Henry Tonks and Muirhead Bone; Music, Music Halls And Theatres, surveying Sickert's images of music and performance, in Paris, London and Dieppe; Landscapes, from Sargent's 'Olives in Corfu' to Spencer's 'Landscape in North Wales'; Interiors And The Nude, with their frequently unsettling depictions of nude female models, such as Sickert's 'Mornington Crescent Nude' and Spencer's 'Self-Portrait with Patricia Preece'; and God And Love, examining Spencer's overarching themes, in such visionary works as 'Love Among the Nations' and 'Love on the Moor'. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 5th April.

ABBAWORLD is an exhibition filled with all things ABBA: music, original costumes, history, images, instruments and never before displayed memorabilia from the Swedish supergroup's recording and performing heyday. Most of the items have been supplied by the quartet: Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, and Agnetha Faltskog. The exhibition, which is launching a world tour in London, begins with an introductory film by director Jonas Akerlund. Displayed in 25 rooms, covering different aspects of their career, the items include stage clothes, instruments, theatrical props and personal belongings, gold records and awards, unique videos, TV interviews and photographs, plus both newly recorded and old material that have never been heard before. Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard is the voice in an audio guide accompanying visitors through the displays. The exhibition is also an interactive experience, featuring the latest technology in sound, visuals, multimedia and communications. With a high definition holographic video system, ABBA returns to the stage in the form of a live karaoke concert for visitors to interact with. This experience is recorded and is then viewable online afterwards. Earl's Court until 28th March.


Revolution On Paper: Mexican Prints 1910 - 1960 is the first exhibition in Europe focusing on the great age of Mexican printmaking in the first half of the 20th century. Between 1910 and 1920 the country was convulsed by the first socialist revolution, from which emerged a strong left-wing government that laid great stress on art as a vehicle for promoting the values of the revolution. This led to a pioneering programme to cover the walls of public buildings with vast murals, and later to setting up print workshops to produce works for mass distribution and education. Some of the finest of these prints were produced by Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, known as 'los tres grandes'. The best known print is Rivera's 'Emiliano Zapata and his Horse', which has achieved iconic status. Other prints, including Rivera's portrait of Frida Kahlo, Siqueiros's 'Dama Negra', and Orozco's 'The Masses', demonstrate the breadth, imagination, and quality of the work. There is a wide range of material, with single-sheet artists' prints, posters with designs in woodcut or lithography, and illustrated books on many different themes. The exhibition also includes earlier works from around the turn of the century by Jose Guadalupe Posada, who was adopted by the revolutionaries as the archetypal printmaker working for the people, and whose works included macabre dancing skeletons. The Taller de Grafica Popular was formed in 1937 by Luis Arenal, Leopoldo Mendez and Pablo O'Higgins as a graphic arts workshop influenced by communism, and Angel Bracho's striking red and black poster 'Victoria!', celebrating the allied victory over the Nazi's, is a key example of the TGP's anti-Fascist stance. British Museum until 28th February.

The Art Of Steampunk explores the phenomenon that creates an imagined sci-fi world and alternative history out of late Victorian invention. The Steampunk concept is described as 'a melding of late 1800s aesthetic with scientific discovery and otherworldly technology'. It is a sort of twist on the work of Jules Verne, H G Wells and Mary Shelley (plus a large slice of Heath Robinson). The exhibition features the work of 18 strangely named 'imagineers' from around the world, with an eclectic mix of exhibits, including computers redesigned by Datamancer from America; brass goggles by Mad Uncle Cliff from Australia; 'The Complete Mechanical Womb' by Molly 'Porkshanks' Friedrich; weird watches by Vianney Halter from Switzerland; 'Beauty Machine', in which a woman suffers the attentions of a robot that has gone beyond the limits of usefulness, by Stephane Halleux from Belgium; a Victorian style 'EyePod' by Dr Grymm; James Richardson-Brown's 'Ambulatory Intercommunication Device', combining bits of plumbing with a mock-ivory cameo; and Kris Kuksi's 'Anglo-Parisian Barnstormer', a mixture of Viking longboat, aeroplane, horse-drawn carriage and Eiffel Tower. The show is divided into two categories: the practical and the fanciful, and it encompasses everything from the dark and eerie, through the humorous, to the sublime. Oxford Museum of the History of Science until 21st February.

The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam marks the 150th anniversary of Edward FitzGerald's publication of an interpretation of the poetical work attributed to an 11th century Persian mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam is one of the best known poems in the world. It has been translated into 85 languages, is among the most widely illustrated of all literary works, with over 130 known illustrators, has inspired many composers, and has been widely parodied - and also used in advertising. This exhibition tells the unlikely story of a medieval Persian scientist and poet, and a Victorian English writer, and the way their verses achieved international acclaim. Among the highlights are: a recreation of The Great Omar, a lavish, binding for the Rubaiyat, with a design featuring peacocks and grapes, inlaid and tooled in gold, with some 1,000 jewels, including Topazes, turquoises, amethysts, garnets, olivines and an emerald; a 16th century decorated Persian manuscript, containing the poems of Hafiz, interspersed with over 350 of Omar Khayyam's quatrains, individually inserted in especially illuminated panels; menus, pictures and other ephemera from an exclusive Victorian dining club established to celebrate the Rubaiyat; early 20th century parodies, such as Rubaiyat of a motor car, The Golfer's Rubaiyat, The Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten, and The Rubaiyat of a Maconochie Ration (a tinned stew issued as army rations in the First World War); and William Morris's special version of the Rubaiyat, made as a gift for Georgina Burne-Jones, hand written by Morris, with hand painted and coloured decorations and illustrations designed by him and Sir Edward Burne-Jones. British Library until 21st February.