News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th February 2004


El Greco is the first major exhibition in Britain of the work of Domenikos Theotokopoulos, the 16th century painter better known as El Greco. One of the most original painters of his time, his work is modern in appearance, and greatly influenced 20th century painters, including Cezanne, Picasso and Jackson Pollock. The exhibition traces El Greco's career through a selection of his greatest paintings, together with some rarely exhibited drawings and sculptures. El Greco stood apart from his contemporaries in the depiction of his compositions, and the use of bright colours, elongated forms and spiritual intensity, painted in a style combining aspects of the Byzantine and Western traditions. Born in Crete, he trained as an icon painter, before moving to Venice, where his style was transformed through his encounters with the work of Titian and Tintoretto, and then Rome, where he was exposed to Michelangelo's influence, mixing with an elite circle of intellectuals connected with the Farnese Palace. El Greco made his home in Spain, settling in Toledo, where he created the famous series of altarpieces in which his highly individual treatment of religious imagery attained its fullest expression. The exhibition includes a rare example of El Greco's early work, the recently discovered icon of 'The Dormition of the Virgin', the 'Laocoon', 'The Opening of the Fifth Seal (The Vision of Saint John)', 'View of Toledo', and the 'Adoration of the Shepherds', which he painted to hang above his own tomb. The exhibition also brings together a large group of portraits of his contemporaries, such as 'Fray Hortensio Paravicino' and 'Jeronimo de Ceballos'. National Gallery until 23rd May.

Office Politics: Women And The Workplace 1860 - 2004 examines how life has changed for women in offices, from the days of the typing pool to the current image of the laptop toting freelancer. It looks at how politics, fashion, office design, technology and furniture have changed in step with the shifts in gender roles. Company records reveal how threatening and provocative women's presence was seen to be by their employers when they first stepped into the office. They also expose the steps taken to control women's appearance and confine them to certain parts of the building (lest the men be distracted), and exclude their participation in the actual running of the businesses. Using cartoons, careers literature, photographs and advertisements, the exhibition dissects the stereotypes associated with women office workers, such as the 1920s business girl, the 1960s 'dolly bird' secretary and the power dressing executive of the 1980s. The exhibition also looks at the changes in office design from the segregated women's departments to the open plan, and the introduction of the modesty boards to cover women's legs from men's view. There is an accompanying series of talks and events exploring the issues raised by the exhibition. Further information can be found on the Women's Library web site via the link from the Galleries section of ExhibitionsNet. The Women's Library, London until 1st May.

Cecil Beaton: Portraits marks the centenary of one of the most celebrated of British portrait photographers, renowned for his images of elegance, glamour and style, and as famous as his subjects. This retrospective brings together over 150 portraits from the five decades of his career, during which he captured fashion, art and celebrity, from the time when stars were unattainable in the 1920s, through to the more egalitarian person next door of the 1960s. Early highlights include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's wedding album; romantic studies of Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother), the first of many Royal commissions; a portrait of Edith Sitwell posed as a gothic tomb sculpture; Hollywood stars Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich; fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli; and artists Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso. During the Second World War, Beaton was an official war photographer, and there are images of land girls; a 3 year old blitz victim; and Air Vice-Marshall Sir Arthur Conningham in his tent in the Egyptian Desert. From the 1950s there are more Hollywood portraits with Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe (accompanied by Beaton's handwritten eulogy about her), Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra. Beaton reinvented his style in the 1960s, capturing a new generation that included David Hockney, Jean Shrimpton, Rudolf Nureyev, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Harold Pinter and Andy Warhol. National Portrait Gallery until 31st May.


Vuillard: From Post-Impressionist To Modern Master is a retrospective of one of the main practitioners of Intimisme - intimate domestic genre painting - in the 1890s. Edouard Vuillard was one of the group of artists who formed Les Nabis - The Prophets - who were particularly influenced by Paul Gauguin's use of simplified forms, colour and symbolism. Eschewing naturalism, while choosing naturalistic subjects, he transformed scenes of everyday life into paintings of emotional power and psychological drama. Vuillard also painted portraits of icons from the world of theatre and fashion, still life and landscapes, and created works for the avant-garde theatre, including lithographed programmes, posters and set designs. Later in his career, Vuillard was commissioned to paint large scale decorative panels of urban landscapes and parks. Vuillard enthusiastically embraced the new technology of photography in the late 1890s, capturing his family, friends and fellow artists, offering a glimpse into his private life. This is the first exhibition to explore Vuillard's photographic output fully, and reveals the ways photography influenced his later paintings. Comprising over 200 works, spanning the fin-de-siecle through to the 1930s, this exhibition presents the full range and diversity of Vuillard's work for the first time. Royal Academy until 18th April.

The Art Of Influence: Highlights From The Walter Crane Archive is a selection from the recently acquired archive of material from the studio of a leading figure in the British Arts and Crafts Movement. The display offers a unique perspective on the art, design and politics of Walter Crane. The Arts and Crafts Movement reacted against the unconstrained industrialisation of the late 19th century, embracing a 'back to nature' philosophy, and offering great respect to craftsmen and their work, as opposed to the mass produced and machine made. The exhibition brings to life Crane's values and vision through drawings, sketches, original designs for book illustrations, diaries, notebooks, photographs and press cuttings, spanning his entire career. The drawings and illustrations demonstrate his mastery of design and skilful absorption of varied historical influences. These traits are also clear in Crane's work as an interior decorator and commercial designer, employed by the major manufacturers of his day in ceramics, glass, textiles and wallpaper. He developed a style dependent on a strong use of line and an interest in symbolism that was instantly recognisable. The archive material is complemented by a selection of Crane's paintings, wallpapers and textile designs, together providing an insight into the artistic, commercial and political fabric of his life. Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester until 23rd May.

Connected London: 125 Years Of The Telephone looks at the accelerating pace of change in communications in the capital. It charts the milestones of the journey, with a Bell patent telephone of 1878; the first London phone directory, issued in 1880, which listed just 250 subscribers; a standard 'No.1' wall telephone of 1910, with a separate ear piece; the first Red public telephone kiosk of 1926; the launch of the Speaking Clock in 1936; the introduction of the '999'emergency service in 1937, followed by the arrival of Dr Who style blue police telephone boxes; the gold 2 millionth London telephone of 1954; a warbling Trimphone of 1966, the UK's first mobile phone call made by Ernie Wise from St Katharine's Dock in 1985; and the most advanced mobile phone, the Sendo X, which soon to be launched in Britain. As well as the actual hardware, there are film and sound recordings that recreate the very different experience from today, when calls handled personally by operators. In addition, the exhibition explores how Londoners connected with each other before the phone, with a letter sent by pigeon post in 1846, a letter sent from Paris to London by balloon in 1870, and Suffragette telegrams of 1911. It also looks at the phenomenal success of the mobile, with ever increasing capabilities, and speculates on possible future developments, like e-voting and e-trading. Museum of London until 25th April.

Bosch And Bruegel: Inventions, Enigmas And Variations brings together paintings, drawings and engravings that demonstrate the influence of Hieronymus Bosch on Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Although Bruegel was born several years after Bosch's death, he was known in his lifetime as a 'second Bosch', and he was familiar with and emulated his predecessor's work, sharing with him a supreme command of colour and pattern. This exhibition concentrates on the originality of the two artists, and their brilliance as designers and painters. Both were highly inventive artists, who made an important contribution to our visual heritage, profoundly influencing the fantasies and perceptions of succeeding generations. Two early versions of Bosch's 'Adoration of the Kings' were investigated during recent cleaning, and offer a new insight into the connections with the 'Crowning with Thorns' by Bosch, and Bruegel's 'Adoration of the Kings' which can be examined here. Also in the exhibition are Bruegel's 'Death of the Virgin', which is in a tradition of grisaille painting that owes much to Bosch's innovations, and Bruegel's drawing 'Avarice', which is inhabited by Bosch-like demons and scattered with fantastic buildings in the architectural style of Bosch. Bruegel, however, was more interested in humanity than Bosch, and his 'Everyman' represents a frantic searching for self-knowledge, advantage and possession. National Gallery until 4th April.

The Shape Of Ideas is an exhibition of small scale sculpture, models and maquettes by some of the most important and innovative artists of the twentieth century. It includes both familiar and rarely seen works, many on display for the first time. Sculptors use models to explore ideas and materials, as a way of thinking about form and space in three dimensions. Models are often provisional, and as a record of thought in progress, may appear in different variants. This thought becomes fixed in the maquette, a small scale version of a final work. However, the cost of making large sculpture often means that a maquette is the only way a sculptor can realise ideas. Some sculptors have used the notion of scale or relative size as the focus for the work itself, and the small sculptures included in this display are finished works in which scale is an essential element. Among the artists represented here are Naum Gabo, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Barbara Hepworth, Joan Miro, Henry Moore and Kurt Schwitters. Works on display include a group of submissions for the competition run by Institute for Contemporary Art in 1952 for a monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner, which attracted 140 proposals from all over the world. The event was won by Reg Butler, but sadly the full size sculpture was never built. Tate Liverpool until 31st May.

Ancient Myths And Legends examines classical imagery in the decoration of European fans of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The exhibition of over 60 fans and fan leaves shows in the subjects depicted, the influence of antiquity and the classical tradition on painters, makers and collectors. Scenes from the lives of the Gods, the Trojan War, the Heroes and Women in ancient times are all surveyed and explained. The exhibition reveals the origins of the subject matter depicted, which has been discovered by investigation into related paintings, prints and sculptures. The permanent collection has over 3,500 fans and fan leaves, with examples from all over the world from the 11th century to the present day. The collection is particularly strong in European fans of the 18th and 19th centuries. Fan making workshops are held on the first Saturday afternoon of each month, lasting approximately 3 hours, during which the participants make two fans, one of the traditional Chinese shape, and the other of the Fontange shape, an early 20th century design. Further information can be found on the Fan Museum web site via the link from the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet. The Fan Museum, Greenwich until 9th May.


Degas And The Italians In Paris is the first exhibition to explore the connections between the French Impressionist painter, Edgar Degas and a number of Italian artists working in Paris, who were inspired by his sense of design, incisive line and range of experimental techniques. Degas technical and compositional innovations drew partly on the camera, partly on Japan, and partly on the five years he spent in Italy studying the masters of the Italian Renaissance. The exhibition consists of some ninety works in a variety of media - oils, pastels, drawings, prints, and sculptures - of which roughly fifty are by Degas, with ten each by his Italian colleagues Giovanni Boldini, Federico Zandomeneghi, Giuseppe de Nittis and Medardo Rosso. Although each of them worked in a distinctive manner, they all responded to Degas as a classical painter of modern life, to his compositional innovations, and to his technical virtuosity. Some of Degas greatest early portraits are of his Italian relations and a number are included in the show, such as the double portrait of Edmondo e Therese Morbilli. Works are grouped in themes: portraits, the nude and modern life, and their juxtaposition is revealing. Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh until 29th February.

Foreign Office Architects: Breeding Architecture is the first British exhibition of the work of the architectural practice founded ten years ago by Alejandro Zaera Polo and Farshid Moussavi. Hailed as the "coolest architects in the world" by The Times, they are the most successful practitioners of their thirtysomething generation. Based in London, they have a global reach, with landmark projects commissioned or realised in cities as various as New York, Tehran and (their greatest claim to fame so far) Yokohama, where they won a competition against a field of 600 worldwide submissions. FOA is dedicated to the exploration of contemporary urban conditions and construction technologies. Their irregularly shaped, intriguingly patterned buildings, like those of Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind, aim to actively contribute to the activities that take place within them. This exhibition not only explores their projects, and the particularities of each city in which they have been built or are planned, but also examines the range of influences on their work, including music, film and literature, and provides a critical insight into the office's internal 'operating system'. During the course of this year FOA has been commissioned to design the new BBC Music Centre in White City, and chosen as part of the multi-national consortium creating the master plan for London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Institute of Contemporary Arts until 29th February.

Illuminating The Renaissance: The Triumph Of Flemish Manuscript Painting In Europe brings together some of the greatest works of the quintessential medieval art form, painted between 1470 and 1560. In the wake of the invention of printing, Flemish illuminators created extravagant and lavish manuscripts in which their art was revitalized and given new direction, resulting in some of the most colourful and luminous examples of the late medieval era. Their work was characterised by innovations in colour, light and texture, and naturalistic detail and illusionism, which rivalled the best panel panting of the period. Flemish illuminators also gave attention to the borders surrounding the text and accompanying miniatures. Previously stylised and two dimensional, they brought them to life with vivid, naturalistic detail, so that at first glance it might seem as though the text was actually surrounded with flowers, fruits and insects. The manuscripts displayed here reveal the full range of sizes and formats in which illuminators worked, from a monumental genealogy to diminutive private altarpieces on parchment, from huge folio sized volumes to tiny prayer books, and from single independent miniatures to books containing a hundred or more examples. The types of texts also vary, from histories, chronicles and romances, to Christian devotional writings, breviaries and books of hours. The fact that they have rarely been displayed means that the colours they retain their brilliance despite being 500 years old. The Royal Academy until 22nd February.