News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th September 2003


Rock: A Retrospective Of Jane Bown's Rock And Pop Portraits (1963-2003) does exactly what it says on the tin, displaying a selection from the archive of portrait photographs by the legendary Jane Bown spanning five decades of musical history. Highlights include pictures of The Beatles, Keith Richards, Joan Baez, Donovan, Cher, Morrissey, Sinead O'Connor, Boy George, Bjork, Jarvis Cocker and PJ Harvey. The exhibition also features previously unseen portraits of John Lennon, more recent photographs of artists at this year's Glastonbury festival, and Radiohead's Thom Yorke. Jane Bown has been with The Observer since January 1949 when the newspaper published her first photograph, and in addition to portraiture is also a reportage photographer. Bown works in black and white without lights, props or tripods (or an assistant), and never uses a light meter, but gauges the settings by looking at how the light falls on the back of her hand. She works quickly and never takes more than one or two rolls of film per shoot. The spontaneity that this affords has enabled her 'snaps' as she calls them to capture a moment that reveals the essence of widely differing artists - some of whom she had never even heard of before she meets them. Her most famous portrait of Samuel Beckett was taken in less than a minute in the alleyway beside the Royal Court Theatre. The Newsroom, London until 24th October.

Stuart Sutcliffe is a display of a recently acquired collection of personal effects that once belonged to the 5th Beatle. Sutcliffe, (who was the main subject of the film Backbeat) joined the band in 1960, but left a year and a half later to concentrate on his art studies. By this time he was engaged to Astrid Kirchherr, who he met whilst performing with the band at the Kaiserkeller Club in Hamburg. It is claimed that it was Sutcliffe who came up with the Beatles name, and that John Lennon would not play in the band without him. His relationship with Astrid also influenced the band's image and style. Sutcliffe died at the age of 21 from a brain haemorrhage soon after leaving the band. The items in the collection, which help bring to life the early part of the Beatles story, include his first guitar; a charcoal self-portrait; letters written to his family from Hamburg (some containing drawings); photographs of him as a child, a student, and with the Beatles and Astrid in Hamburg; a report from his art teacher Eduardo Paolozzi; and personal effects such as his Hamburg ID card, wallet and cheque book - which reveals that he was paying hire purchase instalments for a guitar bought by John Lennon. Also on display for the first time, are four stage suits from 1963, possibly designed by Sutcliffe, and made by London tailor Douglas Millings, but never worn. Museum of Liverpool Life, Liverpool, 0151 478 4499, until 23rd November.

Franz West is the first major British show of the work of the Viennese artist whose output over the last 30 years moves beyond eclectic to unclassifiable. It's sculpture, it's painting, it's collage, its furniture - it's the result of a good morning at a play school. West's roots are in the Viennese Actionists - 1960s performance artists who used the body to create experiences - but he makes a series of plaster body parts and off the peg performance props for visitors to use. Brightly coloured aluminium is twisted into strange shapes. Everyday objects are bandaged with papier-mache until they metamorphose into meteorite like shapes, which are then splattered with intense high gloss colour. Franz West is fascinated by images in glossy magazines and the allure of soft porn and the motor industry. He paints over these advertisements to isolate images and highlight their absurdity. West has also become famous for the furniture sculpture he has been making since the 1980s, and visitors are invited to lie on his couches to relax, and become transformed into an artist's model, a psychiatrist's patient, and a work of art. The exhibition also includes a collection of his collaborations with other artists - Martin Kippenberger, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Wolfgang Tillmans. An interactive art experience at its best - or worst depending on your point of view. Whitechapel Art Gallery until 9th November.


The Tate has embarked on a project to provide online access to its Archive for the first time, with an initial 4,000 objects. A searchable Showcase offers an opportunity to explore the whole range of the material, and three themed Journeys provide an insight into Tate's History, the Bloomsbury Group and the art world of the 1960s and 70s as seen through the eyes of the critic Barbara Reise. Since the Tate opened in 1897 with just ten galleries, it has acquired some 59,000 works, and been at the centre of various controversies about modern art, as well as surviving two World Wars and a major flood. The History Archive looks at the buildings, its people, the war years and the flood, through personal papers, letters, photographs, models and war telegrams. The Bloomsbury Archive contains a wealth of material about the artistic group, including a large collection of photographs taken by Vanessa Bell. These form a unique visual record of the artists' lifestyle, family and friends, with rare glimpses of the group at work, as well as much correspondence (sometimes illustrated) between Vanessa Bell and her family and colleagues, including Duncan Grant and Roger Fry. American art critic Barbara Reise, who lived and worked in London, was a leading participant in the history of minimal and conceptual art, and a close friend of Carl Andre, Dan Graham and Sol LeWitt, as well as some of their British counterparts. The Reise Archive contains information relating to her life and work, which provides a behind the scenes insight into the artists and art of the period. The Archive can be accessed on the Tate web site via the link opposite.

Helena Christensen: People & Portraits comprises two different collections in the supermodel's first solo photographic exhibition. The first showcases 16 previously unseen celebrity portraits, including Orlando Bloom, Marianne Faithful, Sadie Frost, Erin O'Connor, Rankin and Robbie Williams, all wearing Levi's 501s (and mostly nothing else) to celebrate the 130th birthday of the jeans. Accompanying this is a collection of images from Christensen's personal archive, which demonstrate her talent at portraiture, and introduces her fashion photography, providing evidence that she will soon be as well known for her work behind the camera as she is in front of it. Although she has been a keen photographer since she was 17, it is only in the last few years that Christensen has made the transition from model to professional snapper. Using what she learnt while modelling over the last seventeen years, she has recently undertaken fashion shoots for magazines ranging from French Vogue, and British and French Elle, to Dazed and Confused, and a variety of commercial campaigns, as well as personal work. Proud Central, London, 020 7839 4942, until 4th October.

Editions Alecto: A Fury For Prints presents the art scene of 1960s and 70s Britain, viewed through the activities of the most important print publishers of the day. Editions Alecto were pioneering print publishers who produced and sold contemporary artists' prints at the time when Britain made a significant contribution to European and American Pop Art. By streamlining the process of production and distribution of artists' prints in the UK, Editions Alecto supported the creation of some of the most iconic images in post war British art. The company's first major publishing success, A Rake's Progress, helped launch the career of David Hockney, who travelled to California for the first time on the money he received for the sixteen etchings. Other landmark projects for the artists involved were Allen Jones' Concerning Marriages, Eduardo Paolozzi's As Is When and Patrick Caulfield's first untitled screen-print series. These are displayed alongside images by other artists whose work is equally evocative of this groundbreaking period, including Richard Hamilton, Bridget Riley and Gillian Ayres. The work of American artists is represented by prints by Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg and Ed Ruscha. Bankside Gallery, London until 28th September.

From Palace To Parlour: A Celebration Of 19th Century British Glass is the first exhibition in London to illustrate the extraordinary diversity and sumptuousness of Regency and Victorian British glass. The multitude of new manufacturing and decorative techniques of the period are represented, from the rediscovery of the ancient Roman art of cameo engraving, which spawned a new luxury industry, to the introduction of mould pressed glass for the masses, with its multiplicity of shapes, colours and commemoratives, plus intricate wheel engraving and deep intaglio cutting which brought clear glass back into fashion in the latter part of the century. Highlights include a crystal throne upholstered in scarlet velvet, which was made for a Maharaja; a place setting from the famous Regency service made for the Prince of Wales by Perrin Geddes & Co; the Copeland Vase, which took its engraver Paul Oppitz 243 days to complete, gold enamel reverse decorated armorial plates from the Royal Service of Queen Victoria; an enamelled and relief gilded vase by Jules Barbe; a Persian style cameo vase made in 1890 by Stevens and Williams; and rare examples of varnished glass, the production of which was so dangerous that it was banned a year after it was invented. The exhibition, comprising over 250 magnificent objects, is curated by The Glass Circle, and provides a rare public opportunity to see many pieces lent by its members. The Wallace Collection until 26th October.

Grounded is a series of ambiguous photographic perspectives on the natural world by Helen Sear. The pictures, depicting what at first sight appear to be vast expanses of deserted land beneath dramatic and atmospheric skies, turn out in fact to be close ups of the hides and backs of a number of different animals. Sear's technique is actually quite simple. She takes isolated images of the animals' bodies and digitally montages them into backgrounds of sky. The results however, are remarkable and almost painterly evocations of real landscapes. As well as this group, the exhibition also includes 'Still… A Landscape In Ten Pieces'. This is a series of fragmented photographic details taken from one negative image of a diorama she found in the natural history museum in Darmstadt in Germany. Sear creates new dramas by juxtaposing individual images of the various rabbits, birds and deer in new relationships. Impressions Gallery, York, 0904 654 724, until 4th October.

Photojournalism 1930 - 1970 presents an intimate picture of life in the middle of the 20th century through recent gifts to the museum's photographic collection. These are working pictures, destined for newspapers, and news magazines such as Life and Picture Post, which reflect both everyday events and defining moments in history. They cover a period of technological change in the medium, as new cameras and techniques made it possible to capture images more spontaneously, at high speed, and over longer distances, thus enabling the dubious emergence of today's paparazzi. Among the snappers whose work is included are Ernst Hass and Gisele Freund from the archives of the John Hilleson Agency, Erich Salomon, and David Seymour, a founding member of Magnum. The display is grouped into four themes. Celebrity, contrasts elaborately staged portraits of Gloria Swanson and Virginia Woolf, with unguarded backstage images of Marlene Dietrich, Lana Turner and John Gavin. Politics includes individuals, such as a candid shot of William Randolph Hearst in a hotel room, taken from outside through an open window, and events including participants in a splendid official banquet, and a rare pro-Vietnam rally. Citizens at work and play ranges from immigrants disembarking from a ship to their new home, through to the opening of the first theme park. Modernities contrasts idealised visions of an antiseptic, streamlined modern future with the actualities of famine and conflict. Victoria & Albert Museum until 2nd November.


Painted Labyrinth: The World Of The Lindisfarne Gospels provides an opportunity to see the actual Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the world's greatest books, and the greatest masterpiece of Anglo-Saxon and Celtic art. Remarkable for its intricate designs, glowing colours and consummate workmanship, it was made between 715 and 720 in the island monastery of Lindisfarne. The book was the life work of Eadfrith, a uniquely gifted artist who created the pigments he used from a variety of natural sources, so that they still retain their brilliance after 13 centuries. It merges words and images reflecting many influences, including native British, Celtic, Germanic, Roman, Early Christian, Byzantine, North African and Middle Eastern, to create a unique enduring symbol of faith. The Lindisfarne Gospels contains the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John written in Latin on 259 vellum leaves, to which the oldest surviving translation into the English language was added between the lines some 250 years later. Each Gospel is introduced with a portrait of its writer, and a richly decorative 'carpet page' (like an oriental rug), with the first words elaborately ornamented. In addition to the actual book, thanks to new software developed by the British Library, visitors (both in person and online) can seem to turn the pages of the gospels themselves. British Library until 28th September.

Bob The Roman: Heroic Antiquity And The Architecture Of Robert Adam explores the work of Britain's first celebrity architect, who became one of architecture's the most influential figures. The Adam style, characterised by delicate neo-Antique ornamentation of festoons, ribbons and pilasters, is synonymous with the refinement and elegance of 18th century interiors. Yet there was another side to Robert Adam, a love for monumental grandeur, revealed in the exteriors of his buildings, which derived from three years spent in Rome prior to setting up his London practice in 1758. It was there that he encountered Heroic Antiquity, the grandeur of an architectural idiom that is articulated by bulk and mass, and by the solemn ordnance of columns, niches, aedicules and extensive colonnades. Totally immersing himself in the city's culture with unbridled enthusiasm he earned the soubriquet Bob The Roman. This exhibition focuses on how Adam learnt to draw in Rome, under the tutelage of the French artist Clerisseau, and on his great projects inspired by antiquity. These include a 9ft long design for an immense Palace, the Bath Assembly Rooms, a plan for a 720ft building for Lincoln's Inn, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, a speculative scheme for fashionable housing at the Adelphi, and Chandos House off Cavendish Square, which is currently undergoing a £6m restoration. The majority of exhibits are from the extensive collection of some 9,000 Adam drawings that Sir John Soane purchased in 1833. A Robert Adam Study Centre to house the 54 folios of material, which is being created in the adjoining building, will open next year. Sir John Soane's Museum until 27th September.

Elizabeth brings together over 350 objects in the greatest collection ever assembled of personal items, paintings, jewellery, manuscripts, fine art objects and exhibits exploring the life and reign of Elizabeth I. Under the guest curatorship of current historical authority hottie David Starkey, Britain's first golden age is celebrated, in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Elizabeth's death. Exhibits encompass both the state and the personal, ranging from the transcript of Elizabeth's first speech as Queen, to her pearl, ruby and diamond locket ring, containing miniature portraits of herself and her mother, Anne Boleyn. Among the rarely or never before seen artefacts are her minister William Cecil's shopping list of the good points of her suitor, Francis Duke of Anjou; an orpharion (a musical instrument similar to a lute) made for Elizabeth; the last letter sent by the love of her life Robert Dudley, which she kept in a casket under her bed for 15 years until her death; her leather gloves and riding boots; portraits of Elizabeth and her courtiers by Nicholas Hilliard, Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger and Elder, Isaac Oliver and George Gower; and drawings made at the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Inevitably virtual reality has muscled in on actual reality with an interactive Elizabethan Discovery Gallery, which explores her life with 'multisensory learning displays'. Curious how all museums now labour under the bizarre delusion that seeing something on a screen is somehow a more real and valuable experience than seeing the actual object. National Maritime Museum until 14th September.