News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th February 2009


Rodchenko And Popova: Defining Constructivism examines the works of Aleksandr Rodchenko and Liubov Popova, arguably two of the Russian avant-garde's most influential and important artists. Constructivism embraced the vision of the Russian Revolution, and sought to create new forms of art that would help to bring a new society into being. Rodchenko And Popova were integral to the stylistic and theoretical underpinning of Russian Constructivism, rejecting the idea of 'art for art's sake' in favour of art as a practice directed towards social objectives. With the growth of industry, its practitioners were also influenced by, and used materials from, modern machinery and technology. Constructivists looked upon themselves as engineers and not necessarily artists: they believed they were the engineers of vision. The display of Rodchenko's and Popova's utilitarian works demonstrate the degree to which both artists influenced 20th century fashion, media, theatre, cinema and graphic design. It includes Rodchenko's iconic posters for the cinema, ranging from Eisenstein's renowned Battleship Potemkin to Vertov's iconic One-Sixth Part Of The World. Works from Popova's series of Painterly Architectonics and Spatial-Force Constructions lead up to a room dedicated to the 1921 exhibition entitled 5x5=25, organised by Popova and Rodchenko with their colleagues Aleksandra Ekster, Aleksandr Vesnin and Varvara Stepanova. This features Rodchenko's group of monochromatic canvases, 'Pure Red Colour 1921', 'Pure Yellow Colour 1921', and 'Pure Blue Colour 1921'. Tate Modern until 17th May.

Out Of The Ordinary: Japanese Contemporary Photography features works by 11 young photographers, most of whom are unknown outside of Japan, which challenge conventional Western assumptions about Japanese aesthetics and culture. Michiko Kasahara, one of Japan's leading curators of contemporary art, has chosen artists whose photographic vision probes the many layers of social and moral anxiety that underlie a surface of prosperity and wellbeing. Images include 'pregnant' men posing in a fertility clinic; strangers photographed from outside the windows of their homes; a young woman dressed up in various costumes of Tokyo teenagers, exploring consumer oriented youth; starkly monochrome silhouettes of artists with the tools of their trade; collages of faceless Japanese stiffly posing in traditional groups: nuclear family, school unit and graduation class; and black and white photos of urban neighbourhoods with minor happenings, gatherings of young people, or eccentric individuals expressing themselves. Gallery Oldham until 28th March.

Love And Marriage In Renaissance Florence: The Courtauld Wedding Chests explores one of the most important and historically neglected art forms of Renaissance Florence: pairs of great chests, lavishly decorated with precious metals and elaborate paintings. Marriage in 15th century Florence was primarily a dynastic alliance between powerful families, and to celebrate these unions, pairs of ornately decorated chests were commissioned. These items, now called cassoni, were often just part of a whole suite of decorative objects commissioned to celebrate marriage alliances. They were displayed in Florentine palaces and used to store precious items such as clothes and textiles. The painted panels set into the wedding chests tell tales from ancient Greece, Rome and Palestine, as well as from Florentine literature and more recent history. This exhibition is focused around a pair of chests ordered in 1472 by the Florentine Lorenzo Morelli to celebrate his marriage with Vaggia Nerli. These are the only pair of cassoni that can be seen with their painted backboards, and that retain their commissioning documents. They are displayed alongside other examples of chests and panels of the period.

Design Drawings From High Renaissance Italy presents rarely seen Italian 16th century design drawings for furniture, household objects and architectural ornaments. These drawings illustrate the increasing use of classical motifs in High Renaissance designs. They also testify to the increasing professionalism of design in the High Renaissance, when the artist who was commissioned to design an object was often a different person from the craftsman who executed the design.

The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London, until 17th May.


Treasures From Shanghai: Ancient Chinese Bronzes And Jades features objects awarded to nobles for exceptional service, together with others used for ritual and burial, from the collection of Shanghai Museum. The exhibition comprises some 60 ancient Chinese jades and bronzes, plus a few Neolithic ceramics, from the area around Shanghai. It explores their role in ancient China as ritual objects, and demonstrates their legacy for later generations. This is illustrated on two silk scrolls that show the collection of the major official and diplomat Wu Dacheng, seen for the first time outside China. Jade has been central to China's culture from the Neolithic period, worked into mysterious ritual implements, used as emblems of power, and as messengers to the spirit world. The Neolithic jades on display feature fine line designs of strange human-like figures, birds and monsters with large teeth. The highpoint of bronze casting came during the Shang and Zhou dynasties, whose rulers believed that if they properly venerated, their ancestors these would intercede in the spirit world on their behalf, and assist in resolving their worldly difficulties and ensure prosperity. The act of making food and wine offerings in spectacular bronze containers was a major part of respect for the ancestors. The bronzes on view from that period are made in elaborate shapes with intriguing ornament. In later eras, bronze was highly valued for many other purposes, including incense burners, lamps and highly decorated belt ornaments and weapons. British Museum until 27th March.

Stanley Spencer: 50 Years On marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the painter whose unique and eccentric vision made him one of the most notable British artists of the 20th century. This exhibition brings together a wide selection of works from different stages of Stanley Spencer's life, including oils, watercolours and intimate sketches, as well as his last self portrait, painted shortly before he died. Cookham and its surrounding area in Surrey was a source of inspiration throughout Spencer's life, and formed the setting for numerous idiosyncratic biblical and figure paintings, as well as landscapes. Highlight include 'The Deposition and Rolling Away of the Stone', 'St Francis and the Birds', 'Woman Feeding a Calf', 'Rickett's Farm, Cookham Dene', Swan Upping at Cookham', 'The Double Nude Portrait: The Artist and his Second Wife' and self portraits from 1913 and 1959. York Art Gallery until 19th April.

Designer Style: Home Decorating In The 1950s reflects the transformation of domestic interiors in the years after the Second World War, as Britain experienced a new sense of optimism about the future. Following the Festival of Britain, there was an emphasis on good design for all aspects of home furnishing. Manufacturers increasingly employed artists to design textiles and wallpapers, and used their names as a selling point. Consumers welcomed the new brighter colours and fresh approach to pattern. In addition, this period saw the birth of the Do It Yourself movement, with articles in women's magazines about how to decorate in the 'contemporary' style, and the launch of publications such as Practical Householder, which encouraged home owners to tackle improvement projects themselves. The exhibition features a wide range of wallpapers and textiles from the 1950s, including work by well known artists and designers such as Lucienne Day, Graham Sutherland, Cawthra Mulock and Jacqueline Groag. These designers exploited the potential of new screen printing techniques to create wallpapers and textiles that were more fluid, abstract and painterly than had been previously possible. Their bright colours and abstract shapes demonstrate a new optimistic approach to home decorating, after the dreary years of war and rationing. Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, Middlesex University, Cat Hill, Barnet, until 6th September.

Andrea Palladio: His Life And Legacy is the first exhibition devoted to the legendary architect to be held in London in a generation, and celebrates the quincentenary of his birth. Andrea Palladio was not only one of the greatest Italian architects, he was also a practitioner whose work has continued to resonate down the centuries. Active in Vicenza, Venice and the Veneto region, he crafted a new architectural language, derived from classical sources, yet shaped to fulfill the functional demands and aesthetic aspirations of his own age. While Palladio's impressive oeuvre includes private and public buildings and churches, it is his town palaces and country villas that influenced subsequent generations of European and American architects. Large scale models, computer animations, original drawings, books and paintings present the full range of this exceptional architect's output and his legacy, demonstrating why Palladio's name has been synonymous with architecture for 500 years. The exhibition follows his career from the Basilica, his early palaces in Vicenza, and his innovative solutions to rural buildings, such as the Villa Poiana and the Villa Barbaro at Maser, to his great Venetian churches, culminating in the Villa Rotunda. However, Palladio's fame and influence rested not only on his executed buildings, but on his 'Four Books of Architecture', in which he illustrated the basic grammar and vocabulary of architecture, his reconstructions of classical buildings, and also his unbuilt projects. These designs became models for new constructions throughout the world, particularly in Britain, when they were brought here by Inigo Jones. Royal Academy of Arts until 13th April.

Out Of China: Monumental Porcelain By Felicity Aylieff is an exhibition of giant vessels, majestic in scale, which show how the artist has taken the medium of clay and its decoration to a new sculptural level. To say that Felicity Aylieff's work crosses the boundaries of ceramics and sculpture is an understatement. The vessels are 3 metres high, and are the largest pieces that can be fired in the kilns of Mr Yu's Big Ware Factory, in the historic porcelain centre of Jingdezhen in China. Generally cylindrical or shaped like an elongated 'upside down teardrop', they are decorated in brightly coloured contemporary abstract designs. Each pot was hand painted over a period of two days, with a variety of instruments employed to ingrain different sections of the urn. Sweeping brooms, carvers and Chinese calligraphy brushes were experimented with, adding layers of colour to forge a greater depth of surface. In some, enamel butterflies have been applied, decreasing in size to the top of the base to give the illusion of flying away. Weighing 240 kilograms, and requiring a team of assistants to move them, Aylieff's works are imposing, impressive and truly unique. In addition to the vessels themselves, the exhibition also includes Aylieff's working drawings, and illustrated excerpts from the journal she kept during her time in China. The Lightbox, Woking, until 15th March.

Hussein Chalayan: From Fashion And Back is the first comprehensive presentation of work by the contemporary fashion designer, who has twice been named British Designer of the Year. Spanning 15 years of experimental projects, the exhibition explores Hussein Chalayan's creative approach, his inspirations, and the many themes which influence his work, such as cultural identity, displacement and migration. Exhibits include 'Afterwords', exploring the notion of 'wearable, portable architecture', in which furniture literally transforms itself into garments; 'Airborne', bringing the latest LED technology to fashion design, with a spectacular dress consisting of Swarovski crystals and over 15,000 flickering LED lights; 'Before Minus Now', a dress made of materials used in aircraft construction, which changes shape by remote control; and 'Readings', a dress comprising of over 200 moving lasers, presenting an extraordinary spectacle of light. Motivated by ideas and disciplines not readily associated with fashion (and producing designs that are fascinating but clearly unwearable) Chalayan's work crosses between architecture, design, philosophy, anthropology, science, technology and possibly, pretension. Design Museum, London, until 17th May.


From Kabul To Kandahar 1833-1933 reveals the unique and largely undocumented history of Afghanistan, and the British presence there, through rare documentary materials. The exhibition covers the period of the three Anglo-Afghan wars, putting this troubled country's current events in a historical context. Afghanistan is brought to life by the photographs, prints and journals of three men - Ernest Thornton, John Alfred Gray and James Atkinson - who spent time in Afghanistan, as either military personnel or within the expat community, together with photographs and diaries of 19th century British travellers. All together these tell how repeated attempts to invade this fiercely independent and mountainous region have failed, and describe the authors impressions of the Islamic land. Drawings, maps, photographs and lithographs show ancient religious sites, ornamental gardens, everyday market scenes, women, royalty and warriors, portraying an incredibly rich and diverse landscape, culture and people. Early photographs of Kandahar and Kabul from the 1880s show the ravages of war on Afghanistan's architectural monuments. These include the famous 'Bamiyan buddhas', built in the 6th century, and destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, which are now the focus of an international restoration campaign. Royal Geographical Society, London, until 26th February.

Titanic Honour And Glory features many rare and previously unseen artefacts from both passengers and crew who travelled on the fateful maiden voyage of the White Star liner in April 1912. The exhibition brings to life some of their stories and the sights that they encountered, contrasting the ultimate luxury planned for their time on board the new ship, and the horror of what they encountered. It has been put together from the collection of Sean Szmalc and Margot Corson, who have collected artefacts from R.M.S Titanic for the past 20 years. Among the items featured are china dinner plates and a silver sugar dish from the First Class dining room; a Steiff bear that belonged to William Moyes, senior sixth engineer, as a good luck charm; a pocket watch that stopped as it entered the freezing water at 2.28am 96 years ago; and a solid silver cup, presented to the Captain, Edward John Smith, marking 25 years service to the White Star Line, together with plans, brochures, photographs and drawings of its cabins and public rooms. The exhibition also includes rare materials and ephemera from the Titanic's often forgotten sister ships, Olympic and Britannic, including oak paneling, china, glassware, cutlery and silverware. Accompanying the genuine artefacts are props and costumes used in the film Titanic, including the 'Heart of the Ocean' necklace. Milestones Museum, Churchill Way West, Basingstoke, Hampshire, until 25th February.

War And Medicine looks at the continually evolving relationship between warfare and medicine, beginning with the disasters of the Crimean War in the 1850s and continuing through to today's conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. As humankind has developed increasingly sophisticated weaponry with which to harm its enemies, medicine has had to adapt to cope with the volume and the changing nature of resulting casualties. The exhibition highlights the personal experiences of surgeons, soldiers, civilians, nurses, writers and artists, and looks at the impact of war on the 'home front' as well as on front line medicine, considering the long term implications for society of the traumas suffered and the lessons learned. Central to the exhibition is the uncomfortable and sometimes paradoxical relationship between war and medicine and the question of their influence upon each other. It embraces a wide range of subjects - from the pioneering plastic surgery techniques first developed during the First World War to treat disfiguring facial wounds, through to the recent controversies surrounding Gulf War Syndrome and the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The display of over 200 exhibits - objects, artefacts, and recordings, as well as interpretative material, film and artworks - looks at some of the extraordinary difficulties faced by doctors, surgeons, administrators, nurses and their patients in war time. It also considers what has been learned from such extreme circumstances and the wider implications for society and public health in general. Wellcome Collection, London until 15th February.