Private View held by Richard Andrews
The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around 1200 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 12,000 submissions. Among this year's outrages are David Mach's collage showing nudists in St James Park (with Buckingham Palace in the background), and Dilek O'Keefe's estimation of where Kylie Minogue's talent really lies (it's behind her). Architecture takes a prominent role, with Norman Foster's 'Sky High: Vertical Architecture' exploring the development of the skyscraper from its earliest days in Chicago through to the most innovative skyscrapers currently being developed. Historic designs, such as William Van Allen's Chrysler Building, rub shoulders with contemporary proposals, ranging from candidates for the redevelopment of the World Trade Centre site to Renzo Piano's controversial London Bridge Tower. Models and graphics show how the skyscraper is taking a central role in urban redevelopment in cities around the globe. In a new feature this year the Royal Academy Schools, the Royal College of Art, Goldsmith's College and the Slade School of Fine Art, present work by emerging artists. There is an accompanying programme of lectures and events covering all aspects of the exhibition. Royal Academy of Arts until 10th August.
Metropolis: Manchester is part of an ongoing project by photographer John Davies to investigate and record major cities in the UK at the beginning of the 21st century. Davies aim is to document the changing face of Britain's major industrial and post-industrial cities. This exhibition comprises a series of large format images taken from high vantage points around the city during last summer. Davies is interested in the architecture of the social environment and the interaction between people and places, and so his photographs concentrate on popular open spaces that attract people. These include the new Urbis building, the redesigned Piccadilly Gardens, Oxford Street Station, the rebuilt Exchange Square, the gothic Albert Square, and the revitalised Arndale centre. Together they build up a composite of the architectural transformation that Manchester has undergone in the last few years. Davies has previously recorded images of Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff and London in this project. Urbis, Manchester until 6th September and Manchester Art Gallery until 7th September.
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.
Leonardo Da Vinci: The Divine And The Grotesque is the first to British exhibition focus on Leonardo's life-long obsession with the human form. Through his drawings and notes, often made at the dissecting table, he attempted to define perfect or 'divine' proportion. At the same time, he delighted in distorting the human face to explore the comic potential of the 'grotesque', in drawings often based on lightning life studies made in the street. These were among his most influential works and were largely responsible for his reputation as a bizarre genius. For Leonardo, drawing was the principal means of exploring both the real world and the possibilities of the imagination. His highly accurate anatomical drawings broke new ground in the history of scientific illustration. Several are annotated with his characteristic mirror writing. Leonardo's compulsion to draw imaginary heads is one of the most striking aspects of his work. Ideal types - the angelic youth, the fierce warrior and the decrepit old man - recur throughout his drawings and paintings. This selection includes studies for The Last Supper, portraits of Leonardo and his circle, and rare examples of his designs for festival costumes. All the rarely seen works in the exhibition come from the Royal Collection, which holds over 600 items, and is the world's finest group of Leonardo's drawings. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace until 9th November.
Mao: Art For The Masses gives Western audiences their first chance to see examples of the propagandist art created to promote the cult of Chairman Mao and his vision of New China. The formation of Communist Chinese state is charted through a private collection of extremely rare pieces made between 1950 and 1976, and acquired in Hong Kong during and immediately after the Cultural Revolution. These images, made in traditional media such as porcelain, lacquer and ivory, were created to illustrate the political idealism of the period, but now seem hypocritical or kitsch. The greatest master craftsmen were encouraged to use the best materials with no restriction on production time to produce perfect images of Mao's revolution. Exhibits include porcelain figures, plaques, tableware, ivory carvings, snuff bottles, posters, badges, and part of a hoard of 400 'Official Issue' busts of Mao discovered recently on the Tibetan boarder, plus a copy of his little red book. Royal Museum, Edinburgh until April.
My Favourite Dress is the opening exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum, the £4m project masterminded by fashion icon Zandra Rhodes, and built entirely without lottery or other public funding. It comprises dresses contributed by 70 designers, and while some have used the opportunity to promote their current wares, others such as Jasper Conran, Romeo Gigli Christian Lacroix, Mary Quant, Pacco Rabanne, Oscar de la Renta of Balmain and Valentino, have delved into their archives and found some famous and iconic pieces. They are displayed on a special automated mobile system of crystal mannequins that give the frocks a twirl so that they can be fully appreciated. The museum's permanent collection was kick started by Rhodes personal collection of over 3,000 garments of her own and by other designers, such as Ossie Clarke, Bill Gibb and Jean Muir accrued over the last 35 years. The building, converted from a warehouse in now trendy Bermondsey, has been created in Rhodes image by Mexican architect Ricardo Legoretta, in that it is shocking pink, orange and blue inside and out. In addition to exhibition space, the project includes Rhodes studio, workshops, and accommodation for students visiting as part of its education programme, plus a 'living above the shop' penthouse for Rhodes herself, with a shop, café, library and research centre to come. Fashion And Textile Museum continuing.
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.
Newnham Paddox Art Park is a new 30 acre open air lakeside art gallery presenting up to 100 modern works in contemporary and classical styles for viewing and purchase in a unique wooded setting. The park is part of a 1,000 acre Grade 1 listed 18th century romantic landscape designed by Capability Brown on the 3,000 acre estate of the Earl and Countess of Denbigh. Among those artists featured in the opening show are David Begbie, Nic Fiddian-Green, Olwen Gilmore, Amy Goodman, Rob Maingay, Polly Rome, Jill Tweed, Gail van Heerden and Althea Wynne. Wooded walks afford five views of the lakes and park, which contains many rare specimen trees which have been collected by previous generations of Denbighs on their journeys abroad since 1433. Newnham Paddox Art Park, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire, 01788 833513 Thursdays to Sundays until 30th October.
Lichfield: The Early Years 1962 - 1982 celebrates the 40th anniversary of the start of Patrick Lichfield's career as a photographer, which has developed along the twin themes of his personal involvement in fashionable society and his aristocratic connections. Bringing together over 30 works, it focuses on his early career as a leading participant and chronicler of the Swinging Sixties, including his period with Vogue. It features the iconic group 'Swinging London', which includes Roman Polanski, David Hockney, and Antonia Fraser; individual portraits such as a nude of Marsha Hunt for the musical Hair, and a striking colour image of Yves St Laurent in Marrakesh; and the St Tropez wedding of Mick and Bianca Jagger. The display concludes with his definitive and intimate photographs of the Queen and the Royal Family taken in the 1970s, including the large group portrait of 26 Royals at Windsor in 1971, and culminates in the photographs of wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981. National Portrait Gallery until 31st August.
British Blondes celebrates the perception that from Greek goddess Aphrodite to pop goddess Madonna, blondes have always had more fun, by bringing together photographs of some the best known British blondes from the 1930s to the present day. Blonde hair has come to signify beauty, power and status, and the display looks at blonde bombshells from the worlds of politics, fashion, music, film and media. Highlights include Margaret Thatcher by Norman Parkinson, Twiggy by Allan Ballard, Diana Dors by Cornel Lucas and Joely Richardson by Alistair Morrisson, plus Diana, Princess of Wales, Patsy Kensit and Barbara Windsor. The sublime to the 'gor blimey indeed. National Portrait Gallery until 6th July.
David Hockney: Five Double Portraits is a double celebration, marking the return to Britain of one of our most globally successful artists, and the discovery of (for him) a new medium - watercolour. Relishing the possibilities and restrictions of watercolour, these portraits are large (almost 4ft high), produced in a single six or seven hour sitting, with no preparatory sketches, and no possibility of over painted alterations. The centrepiece is a portrait of the Glyndebourne impresario Sir George Christie and his wife, commissioned by the gallery, which proved the catalyst for Hockney's interest in the medium, and produced a burst of creativity. National Portrait Gallery until 29th June.
Tar Beach takes its title from the New York slang name for the flat black rooftops of its apartment buildings. This rooftop culture, and its views of the life around it, is the springboard for six contemporary observations on the city that never sleeps. Melissa Gould's four-colour lithographic map Neu-York is a map of Manhattan circa 1939 in which the street names are replaced with an equivalent from the Berlin of the same period. Susa Templin juxtaposes the rigid box-like structures of apartment buildings with liquid images of swimming pools and aquaria, using photography and drawing to chart the desire for escape. Jen DeNike's installation of photographs and video focuses on a skateboarding spot called The Brooklyn Banks, documenting the skaters. Mark Orange's Open 24 Hours is a series of photographs depicting the idiosyncrasies of Manhattan's many all-night convenience stores. Kevin Cooley's photographic series Night For Night depicts outdoor night time landscapes taken in close proximity to movie and television shoots, in which the Hollywood fantasy overlaps with mundane reality, like Edward Hopper paintings. Stephen Vitiellos sound work World Trade Center Recordings: Winds After Hurricane Floyd records the movements of the building in which he had a studio. Site Gallery Sheffield until 23rd June.