News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th June 2008


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 1,200 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from around 10,000 submissions, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. Over £70,000 is given out to artists included in the exhibition through 10 prizes. This year the show has been masterminded by Humphrey Ocean, Tony Cragg and Gordon Benson, with the theme Man Made. Highlights include a gallery curated for shock and awe by no longer so enfant but ever more terrible Tracey Emin, featuring works by Mat Collishaw, Louise Bourgeois, Gary Hume, Elke Krystufek, Michael Fullerton, Juergen Teller, Damien Hurst, Rebecca Warren, Sigalit Landau and Rachel Kneebone; and 'Promenade', a monumental sculpture by Anthony Caro in the courtyard. Other artists featured include Gavin Turk, Georg Baselitz, Anselm Keifer, Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons and Ron Arad, along with architects Nicholas Grimshaw, Renzo Piano, Bernard Tschumi, David Chipperfield and Zaha Hadid. There is also a memorial gallery dedicated to showing the works of RB Kitaj, who died last year, featuring some of his greatest paintings and works on paper alongside more recent pieces. The Royal Academy of Arts until 17th August.

British Surrealism & Other Realities: The Sherwin Collection presents key works from the collection of Dr Jeffrey Sherwin, arguably the finest collection of British Surrealism in existence, comprising some 300 items assembled over 20 years, which has until now has remained hidden in his Leeds home. The exhibition includes works by Anthony Earnshaw, Roland Penrose, Henry Moore and Emmy Bridgwater. These are supplemented with a set of original manuscripts, photographs, posters, rare Surrealist volumes and curiosities. In addition, the Surrealist works are contextualised with a broader collection of modern art from Gaudier-Brzeska to Damien Hirst. Among the highlights are works by John Banting, the Bloomsbury Group artist who also designed for the stage; the scandalous paintings, constructions and documents created by Conroy Maddox, from an atheist conviction, including 'Denouement'; and Eileen Agar's 'The Angel of Mercy', a simple plaster head with incredible attitude, together with abstract forms in watercolour like war paint. MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art), Middlesborough, until 17th August.

The Musical Museum, which officially opened this week, is the old Brentford Piano Museum reborn from its former crumbling church to a new building with much more space and in a more prominent location. It comprises one of the world's foremost collections of automatic instruments. From a tiny clockwork Musical Box to a self playing 'Mighty Wurlitzer', the collection embraces a comprehensive array of sophisticated reproducing pianos, orchestrions, orchestrelles, residence organs and violin players. Visitors can not only hear these instruments playing, but also find out how they were made, and how they function. The museum is arranged on three floors. The first gallery provides an idea of the original grand setting for some of these impressive instruments. The second gallery is a 'street' where street instruments are displayed and played, and the shop windows are full of small exhibits, ranging from toys to instruments used by a piano hammer maker, musical ephemera, and even a collection of needle tins for old gramophones. The third gallery shows how music was 'captured' on paper music rolls, and how the instruments were powered, featuring some unique instruments and machines. The second floor houses a concert hall seating 230, complete with an orchestra pit from which the Wurlitzer console rises to entertain visitors, just as it did in the cinemas of the 1930s. There are also workshops in which conservation and repair work is carried out, and a library holding over 30,000 music rolls, including some made by composers such as Grieg and Rachmaninov playing their own compositions. The Musical Museum, 399 Brentford High Street, Brentford, Middlesex, continuing.


Psycho Buildings: Artists Take On Architecture marks the 40th anniversary of the gallery, whose brutalist architectural style is loved and loathed in equal measure, by inviting 10 international artists to respond to its spaces. They have created habitat-like structures and architectural environments, both indoors and out, which offer visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves atmospheric and unsettling surroundings. The art gallery and the funfair have converged in installations that include a room frozen in a moment of explosive disaster; an eerie village of over 200 dollhouses (which really needs "it's a small world after all" playing in the background); a labyrinth viewed by climbing ladders to observation platforms; a giant transparent trampoline under a plastic geodesic dome that can either be bounced on or viewed from below; a 5:1 scale model of a Korean house crashing into a three storey American home; and a skyline pond with boats made from junk shop furniture. The artists are Atelier Bow-Wow (Japan), Michael Beutler (Germany), Los Carpinteros (Cuba), Gelitin (Austria), Mike Nelson (UK), Ernesto Neto (Brazil), Tobias Putrih (Slovenia), Tomas Saraceno (Argentina), Do-Ho Suh (Korea), Rachel Whiteread (UK). The exhibition also includes screening of architecturally inspired films, including Chris Burden's Beam Drop, Andrea Fraser's Little Frank and his Carp, Gordon Matta Clark's Conical Intersect and Jane Crawford and Robert Fiore's Sheds. Hayward Gallery until 25th August.

Gustav Klimt: Painting, Design And Modern Life In Vienna 1900 recreates the sophisticated world of Klimt and his patrons, as the juncture between art, architecture and design, at the epicentre of a cultural awakening in the city. The exhibition explores the relationship between Klimt as a leader and founder of the Viennese Secession, a progressive group of artists and artisans driven by a desire for innovation and renewal, embracing not only art but architecture, fashion and the decorative objects, and the furniture products and philosophy of the Wiener Werkstatte, demanding the emancipation of fine and applied art in stunning environments. At the time, Klimt's images of almost morbidly swooning sexuality led him to be accused of decadent indulgence in pornography. The exhibition features not only major paintings, drawings and graphics by Klimt, but also a wealth of furniture, silver objects, jewellery, fashion, graphic design and documentary material. The centrepiece is a full scale reconstruction of 'The Beethoven Frieze', Klimt's spectacular monumental installation celebrating the unification of all arts - painting, sculpture, architecture and music - created using the same techniques as applied by Klimt. Over 60 major paintings and drawings from all stages of Klimt's career are shown in settings that recreate the work of Josef Hoffmann, architect and designer, who created extravagant interiors for many of Klimt's most important patrons and collectors to display their commissions. Tate Liverpool until 31st August.

New Jewellery Gallery designed by Eva Jiricna, a £7m project incorporating a glass spiral staircae and a new mezanine floor, displays some 3,500 spectacular examples of European jewellery dating from the last 800 years, some on public view for the first time. The pieces range from jewels that reflect splendour of life in a royal court, through designs from the great jewellery houses of the 20th century, to work by contemporary makers. Historic highlights include jewelled pendants given by Queen Elizabeth I to her courtiers; diamonds worn by Catherine the Great of Russia; the Beauharnais Emeralds, a gift of Napoleon to his adopted daughter, together with tiaras and ornaments worn by the Empress Josephine; a Thistles corsage ornament and other pieces by art-nouveau designer Rene Lalique; a Faberge enamelled snuff box with the diamond monogram of Tsar Nicholas II; two diamond tiaras by Cartier; Philippe Wolfers's gold, enamel, diamond and ruby hair ornament in the form of an orchid; a rare plique-a -jour enamel and pearl bracelet by Boucheron; a gold Chaumet bangle with a core of rubies and diamonds; the 'Helen of Troy' necklace designed by Edward Poynter; and Lady Mountbatten's Cartier 'tutti frutti' ruby, sapphire, emerald and diamond bandeau. Over 140 living goldsmiths and jewellers are represented in the gallery, ranging from ring sets by Wendy Ramshaw to a carved pin in recycled acrylic by Peter Chang, and a papier-mache neckpiece by Marjorie Schick - a suitably contrasting reflection of the 'flash and trash' society of the 21st century. Victoria & Albert Museum, continuing.

Street & Studio: An Urban History Of Photography presents a history of photographic portraiture taken in cities around the world, in two contrasting locations: the street and the studio. It comprises over 350 works by 19th and 20th century photographers, including such diverse figures as Diane Arbus, Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Helen Levitt, Robert Mapplethorpe, Irving Penn, Cindy Sherman, Malick Sidibe, Paul Strand, Wolfgang Tillmans and Weegee. Street photography was founded with the development of small and easily concealed cameras, offering the opportunity to catch subjects in informal, impromptu and even intimate moments. Highlights of this practice include Jacques-Henri Lartigue's snap shots of the French bourgeoisie in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris and Arnold Genthe's documentary photography of Chinatown in San Francisco. Studio portrait photography was developed to create more formal portraits, offering the photographer opportunities for complex technical manoeuvres, and allowing the sitter to compose and present themselves to the world with associated props and backdrops, as seen in Samuel Fosso's self portraits and Baron de Meyer's fashion photography of famous artists. The exhibition explores the ways in which the two strands intertwine. The highly composed scenes by Robert Doisneau and the fashion photography in the 1950s by Norman Parkinson and William Klein demonstrate how the street became a site of staging, while Andres Serrano's portraits of the homeless and Helmar Lerski's series 'Head of Everyday' show how studio photography began to record people from the street. Tate Modern until 31st August.

Chinese Whispers: Chinoiserie in Britain 1650 - 1930 looks at the changing styles in the fashion for orientalism in the decorative arts - ornamentation based on a Western fantasy of China as a place of dreams and dragons, the mythical land of Cathy. The exhibition brings together some of the earliest Chinese objects imported to Britain, with examples of British made chinoiserie furniture, ceramics, silver and textiles, as well as rarely seen prints and drawings. In a chinoiserie interior in the 18th and 19th centuries surfaces were adorned with fantastic mountainous landscapes, pagodas, fabulous birds, mandarins, dragons and phoenixes. This exhibition provides a context for the Royal Pavilion, which houses some of the exhibits, its extravagant interiors and imaginative furnishings representing the pre-eminent example of a late flowering of chinoiserie. The style was particularly suited to light, feminine spaces, and women's bedrooms, dressing rooms and drawing rooms in stately homes were frequently hung with hand painted Chinese wallpaper, and furnished with lacquered surfaces that complemented the mysterious translucence of chinoiserie porcelain. Taking tea became a fundamental part of polite society, and stimulated the growth of the ceramics industry. Potters endeavoured to discover the secret ingredients for making Chinese porcelain, and developed their own forms for teapots, bowls and cups, decorated with imaginative chinoiserie motifs, whilst silversmiths created exquisite pieces such as caddies, pots and epergnes, also decorated in the Chinese style. Brighton Museum & Royal Pavilion until 2nd November.

The Treetop Walkway & The Rhizotron are two new features that offer visitors the opportunity to get closer to trees. The 18 metre high Walkway, designed by Marks Barfield Architects, creators of the London Eye, is based on a Fibonacci numerical sequence, often found in nature's growth patterns. The tree like metal pylons, which weather to look like wood, each support viewing platforms, linked by the 200 metre Walkway through the canopy of ancient sweet chestnuts, limes and oaks. They offer a unique close up view of the trees - and the birds and other wildlife that live in them - together with a completely different perspective on the surrounding 300 acres of gardens, as well as the London skyline beyond. Meanwhile, the Rhizotron provides an opportunity to delve into the underground world of trees. Entered through an apparent crack in the ground, it reveals the natural world beneath the trees, explaining the relationships between tree roots and the micro-organisms in the soil. Accompanying these new features are a variety of tree themed displays, including a woodland glade with bluebells and cowslips, focusing on the flora and fauna found in and on the woodland floor, with the homes of foxes and badgers, and wasp and wood ant nests, in the Princess of Wales Conservatory; and a display of miniature bonsai trees with conifers, maples, a Japanese white pine, a rhododendron, a beech and an oak tree (offering a similar view as the Walkway for those afraid of heights) in the Bonsai House. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew continuing.


Thomas Hope: Regency Designer showcases the work of one of the most influential designers and patron of the arts in Britain in the early 19th century. Thomas Hope played an important part in establishing the Regency style, reinterpreting ancient classical forms, and incorporating them into contemporary interiors. He opened his townhouse in Duchess Street, described as "the finest specimen of true taste in England", in order to educate British taste. This exhibition recreates the atmosphere of three of the rooms: the Vase Room, which displayed Hope's collection of ancient Greek and Roman vases in specially designed and decorated shelves and cabinets; the Egyptian Room, which combined ancient Egyptian antiquities with modern pieces of Egyptian inspired furniture, in a setting that used the pale yellow and blue/green of Egyptian pigments, relieved by black and gold; and the Aurora Room, designed as the setting of Hope's 'Aurora and Cephalus' statue, which evoked the sensation of dawn, through walls covered in mirrors, edged with black velvet, over which were draped curtains of black and orange satin. Also on display are watercolours and drawings of his country house Deepdene, alongside the original sculptures and furniture exhibited there, including an Egyptian revival chair, designed by Denon, and a neo-antique tripod table by Hope. In addition, the exhibition looks at Hope's role as a collector and patron, through the sculpture, paintings and furniture he commissioned, including Antonio Canova's statue 'Venus', and busts of Hope and his family by Bertel Thorvaldsen and John Flaxman. There is also a display of Hope's watercolours of classical sites and scenes of contemporary life in Greece, Turkey and Egypt, visited during his Grand Tour, together with his numerous publications on architecture, design and costume. Victoria & Albert Museum until 22nd June.

From Sickert To Gertler: Modern British Artists From Boxted House celebrates the lives of Bobby and Natalie Bevan, and the works that hung on the walls of their home, which became a gathering place for a wide range of creative people after the Second World War. Bobby was the son of the artists Robert Bevan and Stanislawa de Karlowska, and the painter and ceramicist Natalie Denny modelled for many artists, most famously Mark Gertler. As patrons of the visual arts, they played an important role in the post war cultural renaissance, and Boxted House became the heart of a social milieu not just of artists, but also of writers, politicians, gardeners and other creative individuals. Paintings by Bobby's parents and their friends, including Walter Sickert, Harold Gilman and Charles Ginner, hung beside works by Bobby and Natalie's friends, such as Christopher Nevinson, John Armstrong and Frederick Gore. Virtually every work in the exhibition has a personal link to Bobby and Natalie, with highlights including Robert Bevan's 'Showing at Tattersall's'; Charles Ginner's 'La Vieille Balayeuse, Dieppe', which he exchanged for a work by Robert Bevan; Harold Gilman's portrait of Bobby's mother; John Armstrong's 'Still Life with Leeks' painted whilst staying at Boxted House; Mark Gertler's 'Supper', a portrait of Natalie aged 19; John Nash's 'Ice and Snow', a snowscape of his garden not far from Boxted House; Cedric Morris's 'Paysage du Jardin No 2'; and works on paper by artists Francisco de Goya, Henri de Toulouse- Lautrec and Paul Cezanne. Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art, Edinburgh, until 22nd June.

Frank Auerbach - Etchings And Drypoints 1954 - 2007 is a comprehensive survey of the distinctive British artist's work, from experimental drypoint nudes produced while he was still a student at the Royal College of Art in the 1950s to his latest etching and aquatint of David Landau. The exhibition is a unique opportunity to see Auerbach's complete body of etchings and drypoints, comprising some 30 works, together with other drawings and paintings, including 'JYM in the Studio'. Portraits drawn with spare lines or frenetic jagged lines sit alongside faces that emerge from heavily greyed out heads in this display, some depicting famous names such as Lucian Freud, others titled just with first names, giving them a personal tone. On first acquaintance Auerbach's work can seem obscure, even crude or unreadable, but its power and strength of feeling is striking, arresting and ultimately beautiful. Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, until 21st June.