Private View held by Richard Andrews
Winter Wonderland, set between Hyde Park Corner and the Serpentine, returns as the ultimate winter theme park experience. The 20 acre site features London's largest outdoor ice rink - created with 130,000 litres of frozen water, weighing 130 tonnes - able to accommodate up to 400 skaters at a time, with ice guides to help beginners; a toboggan slide; a haunted mansion; an ice and snow sculpture experience; a traditional Christmas Market, with over 200 separate wooden chalets, offering arts, crafts, presents and foods; 32 cafes and bars serving traditional food and mulled wine; a 50m observation wheel providing a panoramic view of London above the park; a big top presenting Zippo's Circus with a special 50 minute Christmas themed show and Cirque Berserk featuring a Globe of Death; a double decker carousel and other traditional rides and attractions; thrill rides including Star Flyer, Power Tower and Black Hole; a ski jump and snow ride; and a selection of gentler amusement rides for younger children; plus Father Christmas in his own Santa Land. To add to the atmosphere, the trees along Serpentine Road sparkle with thousands of Christmas lights highlighting the natural beauty of Hyde Park. Entrance to the Winter Wonderland site is free, with fees for individual attractions. Hyde Park, 10am-10pm daily (except Christmas Day) until 4th January.
William Blake: Apprentice & Master explores life and work of the printmaker, painter and revolutionary poet. The exhibition examines William Blake's formation as an artist, apprenticeship as an engraver, and his maturity during the 1790s when he was at the height of his powers. It also looks at his influence on the young artist-printmakers who gathered around him in the last years of his life, including Samuel Palmer, George Richmond and Edward Calvert. Blake's radical politics were reflected in the technical innovations in the creation of his illuminated books, which brought a new sophistication to colour printing. Among the 90 works on display are several of the most extraordinary illuminated books, including 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell', and a complete set of the plates from 'Europe: A Prophecy', together with some of the finest separate plates, among them 'Nebuchadnezzar' and 'Newton'. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a recreation of Blake's studio, based on plans discovered dating to the 19th century, showing the footprint and exact dimensions of the building in which Blake created the majority of his illuminated books and developed his method of colour printing. Late in his career Blake became interested in the great artist-printmakers of the Renaissance, such as Albrecht Durer and Lucas van Leyden, and made a series of watercolour illustrations to the Book of Job and to Dante. It was these works, and the woodcut illustrations to Virgil's Pastorals that inspired the young artists who became known as the Ancients. Among most notable of their works shown alongside Blake's are Samuel Palmer's greatest creations, the six sepia drawings of 1825, and Edward Calvert's woodcuts of the late 1820s. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 1st March.
William Hogarth celebrates the 250th anniversary of the death of the artist who is often regarded as the founding father of British art. Satirist, printmaker, portraitist, history painter and art theorist, William Hogarth's ribald vision of 18th century England saw it as a land of gin-soaked alleys, drawing room greasy poles and good old roast beef. Hogarth first gained recognition painting scenes from the theatre, moving on to make his name with darkly humorous 'modern moral' series depicting the declining fortunes of foolish or ignoble characters, and bring a similar vivacity to the polite interiors of his 'conversation piece' portraits. Taking in the full breadth of Georgian society, paintings in the exhibition include his depiction of the highwayman stage hit, The Beggar's Opera, as well as his sober portraits of his patrons including Thomas Herring, the archbishop of Canterbury. Other highlights include the self portrait 'The Painter and his Pug', 'O the Roast Beef of Old England' (The Gate of Calais), 'Satan, Sin and Death' (A Scene from Milton's 'Paradise Lost') , 'The Dance' (The Happy Marriage? VI: The Country Dance), 'A Rake's Progress', 'The Enraged Musician', 'Beer Street' and 'Gin Lane', and 'Marriage a la Mode'. All human life indeed. Tate Britain until 26th April.
Peder Balke is the first exhibition in Britain to feature works by one of the most original yet least known painters of 19th century Scandinavia, now recognised as one of the forerunners of Modernism. Peder Balke was one of the very first artists to venture to the far north of his native Norway, when in 1832 he visited the distinctive, dramatic and rugged lands of the North Cape, an experience of primal nature so profound that it allowed him to define his highly individual painting style. Balke explored these bleak and original Arctic Circle land and seascape motifs in increasingly austere images throughout his life. A lack of commercial success forced Balke to abandon his career as a painter, yet this wilderness was so alluring to him, that he continued to paint small scenes purely for pleasure. In these later works the subjects are the same - lone lighthouses, mountain peaks, roiling seas - but the manner of their execution is profoundly different, and they are now recognised as highly original improvisations. They are much more experimental, with Balke using brushwork or even his hands to suggest seascapes, and are extraordinarily prescient of later Expressionism. The exhibition comprises around 50 unique, innovative and virtuosic works that represent every facet of Balke's painting. Highlights include 'The Tempest', 'Seascape', 'The Mountain Range, Trolltindene', 'From North Cape', 'Landscape from Finnmark' and 'Sami with Reindeer Under the Midnight Sun'. National Gallery until 12th April.
Rebel Visions: The War Art Of CRW Nevinson explores the powerful art and contradictory personality of the mercurial British war artist. Famous for his dramatic, often haunting images of the First World War battlefield and its soldiers, CRW Nevinson's arresting paintings, drawing, prints and posters also acknowledged the sometimes unpalatable effects war had on British society. Always a rebel, Nevinson produced work that ranged in variety from official government war propaganda to later more jaggedly geometric anti-war protest compositions, some of which were censored. Nevinson's visions of the First World War range from sympathetic and largely realistic depictions of the soldiers during moments of quiet, to violently abstract visions of mechanised warfare that owe much to the influence of Futurism. The exhibition features 21 works from throughout Nevinson's career. Highlights of include 'La Patrie', 'A Star Shell', 'Returning to the Trenches', 'The Dressing Station ', 'War Profiteers', 'Britain's Efforts and Ideals: Acetylene Welding' and 'The Unending Cult of Human Sacrifice'. Barber Institute Of Fine Arts, Birmingham, until 25th January.
Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Conde Nast Years 1923 - 1937 offers a rare insight into a distinctive approach towards portraiture and fashion photography. This exhibition features over 200 vintage prints from when Edward Steichen was working for Conde Nast on Vogue and Vanity Fair. First and foremost an independent art photographer, Steichen was a major pioneer in the development of the medium and its status as an art form. He was already an internationally celebrated painter and photographer when he was offered the position as chief photographer at Conde Nast. For the next 15 years, Steichen took full advantage of the resources and prestige conferred by his role to produce an oeuvre of unequalled brilliance. His work defined the culture of his time, capturing iconic figures in politics, literature, journalism, dance, theatre and the world of haute-couture. The works in the exhibition convey Steichen's forward thinking and 'painterly' techniques. He borrowed from a range of aesthetic movements including Impressionism, Art Nouveau and Symbolism to create a characteristic Art Deco style. Within his meticulous compositions, he treated his subjects as vehicles through which to explore shape, form, texture, light and shade. These photographs depict designs from Chanel, Lanvin, Lelong, Patou, Schiaparelli amongst many others, alongside portraits of Greta Garbo, Cecil B De Mille, Winston Churchill, Marlene Dietrich, Josef von Sternberg, Frank Lloyd Wright, Amelia Earhart, W B Yeats, Colette, Martha Graham, Fred Astaire, Vladimir Horowitz and George Gershwin. The Photographers Gallery, 16 - 18 Ramillies Street, London W1, until 18th January.
A Victorian Obsession brings together paintings from an exceptional collection and a unique setting. Over some years, Mexican businessman Perez Simon 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 50 paintings (some of which originally belonged to Leighton) are hung throughout the historic interiors of the house, fulfilling its original intention. Included are four pictures by Leighton himself, including 'Crenaia, the nymph of the Dargle', returning to the house in which they were painted. Lawrence Alma-Tadema's 'The Roses of Heliogabalus', one of the iconic images of Victorian art, is exhibited in London for the first time since 1913. Also on display are outstanding pictures by Albert Moore, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, John Everett Millais, John William Waterhouse, Edward Poynter, Frederick Goodall, John Strudwick and John William Godward amongst others. These artists knew Leighton and were entertained at his house. The combination of the house and the paintings makes this a one-off aesthetic experience for anyone interested in the art of the 19th century. Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road, London W12, until 14th February.
Reality: Modern And Contemporary British Painting celebrates the strength of British painting with some of the best and most influential artists of the last 60 years. The exhibition brings together over 50 works from major 20th century artists including Walter Sickert, Francis Bacon, Stanley Spencer, Lucian Freud, L S Lowry, David Hockney and Paula Rego, alongside young contemporary painters including Ken Currie, George Shaw, Caroline Walker, Sam Jackson, Ken Currie and Anthony Green. Uncompromising and direct, the work of each artist represented retains a strong reference to the real world, 'the stuff of life'. They tackle a diverse range of subjects, referencing the body, relationships, history, politics, war, the urban environment and social issues, but the works are all united by two things - the harsh realities that have concerned key British artists over the decades and the simple act of painting. Highlights include Walter Sickert's 'Ennui', capturing the banality of everyday life at the beginning of the 20th century, complemented by David Hockney's 'My Parents', painted over 60 years later; George Shaw's depictions of his home town, Coventry, revealing the mystery of the mundane, the absence of human life and the unfamiliarity of the familiar, alongside David Hepher's expansive urban landscapes capturing the lives of the inhabitants who he has chosen to omit from the canvas; and Caroline Walker's voyeuristic paintings in which women seem unaware that they are being observed, either half-clothed or naked, while the figures in Chris Steven's works challenge preconceptions about people, exploring identity, class, race, gender and the environment. Sainsbury Gallery, Norwich, until 1st March.
The Institute Of Sexology is a candid exploration of the most publicly discussed of private acts, and those who have investigated human sexuality. It is the first major display since the £17.5m transformation of the venue by architects Wilkinson Eyre, bringing new areas into public use and linking layers of activity with a dramatic new spiral staircase and interconnected galleries. Featuring over 200 objects spanning art, rare archival material, erotica, film and photography, medical artefacts and ethnography, this is the first British exhibition to bring together the pioneers of the study of sex. From Alfred Kinsey's complex questionnaires to the contemporary National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), the exhibition investigates how the practice of sex research has shaped our ever-evolving attitudes towards sexual behaviour and identity. Moving between pathologies of perversion and contested ideas of normality, it shows how sex has been observed, analysed and questioned from the late 19th century to the present day. The show tells the complex and often contradictory story of the study of sex through its pioneers, including Magnus Hirschfeld, Sigmund Freud, Marie Stopes, Alfred Kinsey, Margaret Mead, William Masters and Virginia Johnson, and the team behind Natsal. It traces the experiments and studies that lifted taboos in the pursuit of truths about sex and tells the remarkable personal stories of those whose questions made it a legitimate field for discussion and study. The display also features contemporary artworks exploring sexual identity by artists Zanele Muholi, John Stezaker, Sharon Hayes and Timothy Archibald. Wellcome Collection, 183 London Road, London NW1, until 20th September.
Horst: Photographer Of Style is a retrospective of the work of one of the leading photographers of the 20th century. In an illustrious 60 year career, German-born Horst P Horst worked predominantly in Paris and New York, creatively traversing the worlds of photography, art, fashion, design, theatre and high society. The exhibition comprises 250 photographs, alongside haute couture garments, magazines, film footage and ephemera, including previously unpublished vintage black and white prints and 94 Vogue covers. The display explores Horst's collaborations and friendships with leading couturiers such as Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli in Paris; stars including Marlene Dietrich and Noel Coward; and artists and designers such as Salvador Dalí and Jean-Michel Frank. It also reveals lesser-known aspects of Horst's work: nude studies, travel photographs from the Middle East and patterns created from natural forms. Detailed studies of natural forms such as flowers, minerals, shells and butterfly wings from the project 'Patterns From Nature', are shown alongside kaleidoscopic collages made by arranging photographs in simple repeat, used as designs for textiles, wallpaper, carpets, plastics and glass. A selection of 25 large colour photographs, newly printed from the original transparencies demonstrating Horst's exceptional skill as a colourist are shown together with preparatory sketches that have never previously been exhibited. The creative process behind some of his most famous photographs, such as the 'Mainbocher Corset', are revealed through the inclusion of original contact sheets, sketches and cameras, and the many sources that influenced Horst - from ancient Classical art to Bauhaus ideals of modern design and Surrealism in 1930s Paris - are explored. Victoria & Albert Museum until 4th January.
Ancient Ruins, Modern Art: Ettore de Conciliis and Umberto Mastroianni , juxtaposes antiquities from the important archaeological site of Ostia Antica, near Rome, with the work of two modern Italian artists. Founded in the 7th century BC, the ancient harbour city of Ostia was an essential link to the capital of the Roman Empire. The city was a commercial hub and cultural melting pot, equipped with a theatre, baths, bakeries, warehouses, bars and shops. The exhibition includes ancient statuary portraying gods, emperors and evocative scenes of chariot races at the Roman Circus, while a selection of intricate mosaics and two wall paintings from nearby Isola Sacra (Ostia's cemetery) are among the finest examples from the site. As a backdrop to these works are a number of specially commissioned paintings by Ettore de Conciliis depicting the atmospheric play of light across Ostia's ruins, and several works by Umberto Mastroianni, one of the most important figures in 20th century Italian sculpture. Mastroianni began to employ abstract forms during the early 1940s, and is best known for his monumental works commemorating the Resistance. His dynamism is far removed from the serene character of the antique pieces, yet his sculptures, resembling great gears and mechanical components standing motionless, recall archaeological fragments: bronze and iron 'relics' of an industrial era. The juxtaposition of contrasting works from two widely diverse cultures, reflects not only on the gulf separating contemporary ideas of beauty from those of antiquity, but also how alien the cultural artefacts of today may one day seem. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39A Canonbury Square, London N1, until 21st December.
Jasper Johns: Regrets is a series of new works by the internationally renowned American artist, inspired by a chance encounter with a 1964 photograph of Lucian Freud posing in Francis Bacon's London studio. The drawings and paintings convey Jasper Johns's creative process and his ability to transform and recast an image in numerous different ways. The photograph, taken by John Deakin, shows Freud seated on a brass bedstead, his hands covering his face in an ambiguous gesture of introspection. It was commissioned and used by Francis Bacon as the source material for one of his own paintings, eventually becoming the basis of 'Study for Self-Portrait'. Johns incorporates not only the subject of the photograph itself, but the physically distressed qualities of the original print, which Bacon had torn, creased and smudged in the course of his work. The missing sections, tears and folds of the original play a prominent role in Johns' composition throughout the series. Johns explored and transformed the image in numerous experiments in oil, watercolour, pencil and ink. In the process he mirrored and doubled the original image, and in doing so, the form of a skull emerged unexpectedly in the centre of his new composition. This 'apparition' creates a reminder of death or memento mori at the heart of the works. Two large paintings and a group of works in ink on plastic are particular highlights of the series and are testament to Johns' profound engagement with his subject, conveying themes of creativity, memory, reflection and mortality. Most of the works are signed and titled 'Regrets - Jasper Johns', seemingly a reference to their profound and contemplative mood, but this signature and title actually derives from a rubber stamp Johns had made some years previously to swiftly decline the stream of requests and invitations that he regularly receives. Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London, until 14th December.