Private View held by Richard Andrews
Vikings Life And Legend focuses on the core period of the Viking Age from the late 8th century to the early 11th century. The Viking expansion from the Scandinavian homelands during this era created a cultural network with contacts from the Caspian Sea to the North Atlantic, and from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean. The exhibition features many new archaeological discoveries and capitalises on new research and recent discoveries that have changed our understanding of the nature of Viking identity, trade, magic and belief and the role of the warrior in Viking society. It was the maritime character of Viking society and their extraordinary shipbuilding skills that were key to their achievements. At the centre of the exhibition are the surviving timbers of a 37m long Viking warship, the longest ever found and never seen before in Britain. The size of the ship and the amount of resources required to build it suggest that it was almost certainly a royal warship, possibly connected with the wars fought by Cnut to assert his authority over this short lived North Sea Empire. The Vale of York Hoard is displayed in its entirety for the first time since it was found near Harrogate in 2007. Consisting of 617 coins, 6 arm rings and a quantity of bullion and hack-silver, it is the largest and most important Viking hoard since the Cuerdale Hoard was found in Lancashire in 1840, part of which is also included in the exhibition. Ostentatious jewellery of gold and silver demonstrates how status was vividly displayed by Viking men and women. These include a stunning silver hoard from Gnezdovo in Russia, which highlights the combination of Scandinavian, Slavic and Middle Eastern influences that contributed to the development of the early Russian state in the Viking Age. British Museum until 22nd June.
Edward Lear In Greece features collection of watercolours by the Victorian writer, poet and artist. Although now perhaps best known for his limericks and nonsense verse, Edward Lear was also a superb zoological draughtsman, a talented musician and a celebrated landscape artist. Lear began to draw commercially at the age of 16 and his illustrations of birds quickly brought him to the attention of an affluent patron. He then turned his attention to landscape drawings and moved to Rome, after which he kept travelling until his death, producing over 10,000 sketches inspired by his journeys. This display highlights Lear's draughtsmanship and versatility, examining his enchanting depictions of Greek landscapes. It includes both highly finished studio watercolours, such as 'Athens', and sketches drawn in situ and annotated with Lear's notes about details of the landscape and weather. Lear's sketches, in particular, are now widely admired for the elegance and precision of his drawing, and for their vivid and spontaneous evocation of place. Unlike many other artists of the time, he was as captivated by the recent history and contemporary life of Greece as by the country's antique past. Lear travelled widely throughout Greece, from Athens and the Peloponnese to the remote mountains of the Epirus region in the north west, which are represented in the 'Suli' watercolours. Lear wrote of his aim to travel to and paint sites not previously represented by other artists, including Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain of the Orthodox Church, and widely depicted in the display, and the island of Corfu, where he lived and worked on and off for a decade. Scottish National Gallery until 18th June.
Ruin Lust offers a guide to the mournful, thrilling, comic and perverse uses of ruins in art from the 17th century to the present day. The exhibition explores ruination through both slow picturesque decay and abrupt apocalypse with works by over 100 artists. JMW Turner and John Constable were among those artists who toured Britain in search of ruins and picturesque landscapes, producing works such as Turner's 'Tintern Abbey: The Crossing and Chancel, Looking towards the East Window' and Constable's 'Sketch for Hadleigh Castle'. John Martin's 'The Destruction of Pompei and Herculaneum' recreates historical disaster, while Gustave Dore's engraving 'The New Zealander' shows a ruined London with the cracked dome of St Paul's Cathedral in the distance. Work provoked by the wars of the 20th century include Graham Sutherland's 'Devastation' series depicting the aftermath of the Blitz; and Jane and Louise Wilson's photographs of the Nazis' defensive Atlantic Wall along the north coast of France. Paul Nash's photographs of surreal architectural fragments in the 1930s and 40s, and Jon Savage's images of a desolate London in the late 1970s show how artists also view ruins as zones of potential, where the world must be rebuilt. Britain's ruinous heritage has been revisited and sometimes mocked by later artists. Keith Arnatt photographed the juxtaposition of historic and modern elements at picturesque sites for his deadpan series A.O.N.B. (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty); John Latham's sculpture 'Five Sisters Bing' was part of a project to turn post-industrial shale heaps in Scotland into monuments; and Rachel Whiteread's 'Demolished - B: Clapton Park Estate', shows the demolition of Hackney tower blocks, in which Modernist architectural dreams are destroyed. Tate Britain until 18th May.
Germany Divided explores how 6 key artists redefined art in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, and negotiated with the recent past, on both sides of the Iron Curtain. All the artists in the exhibition came originally from eastern Germany and migrated to the West, the majority before the borders were sealed in 1961. As a generation, they came out of the experience of growing up in the aftermath of a Germany defeated in the Second World War, and its subsequent partition in 1949. Much of their work is informed by the sense of collective guilt experienced by the German people over its recent past, the country's physical and psychological destruction, and the division of the country by two opposing ideologies - the democracies of the free West and the Communist system of the Soviet bloc. The exhibition features over 90 works, around half by Georg Baselitz, with the remainder by Markus Lupertz, Blinky Palermo, A R Penck, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter. The works by Baselitz cover the principal phases of his career from the 'Pandemonium' drawings of the early 1960s, the development of his ironic 'Heroes' in the mid 1960s, the subsequent fracturing of his motifs to the eventual inversion of the motif from the late 1960s. There are also an important examples by Richter, including his 'Pin-up' and 'Installation' drawings, the characteristic Ice Age meets cybernetics stick-figures of Penck, as well as sculptural drawings by Lupertz and Palermo, and a drawing and sketchbook by Polke satirising the 'economic miracle' of post-war reconstruction in West Germany. British Museum until 31st August.
Philip-Lorca diCorcia Photographs 1975 - 2012 is the first exhibition in Britain of work by the New York based photographer, one of the most important working in the medium today. This survey contains over 100 photographs from 6 major series, which demonstrate the way in which Philip-Lorca diCorcia negotiates the line between fiction and documentation. Although actual locations are often used, and the people in the photographs are themselves, rather than models or actors, the overall composition, lighting and positioning of subjects have been carefully planned in advance. 'Hustlers' (1990 - 1992) depicts male prostitutes, each in a different carefully staged setting. The evocative titles of each photograph give the name, age, hometown and the amount diCorcia paid each man for posing for the picture. 'Streetwork' (1993 - 1999) shows unsuspecting passers-by photographed on the street, a theme also developed in the series 'Heads' (2000 - 2001), where single, isolated figures walking through New York's Times Square are captured as if frozen in time. In 'Lucky 13' (2004) - an American phrase that describes the warding off of a losing streak - dramatically lit pole-dancers are presented in near life size photographs, suspended in time and space and caught in the act of falling. diCorcia's current series 'East of Eden' (2008 onwards) draws loosely on narrative incidents from the Old Testament in images that are stylistically varied and include landscapes and staged scenes. The exhibition also encompasses the entirety of the series 'A Storybook Life' (1975 - 1999) 76 photographs that are sequenced to suggest a network of interconnected lives and stories. The Hepworth Wakefield until 1st June.
Beautiful Science: Picturing Data, Inspiring Insight seeks to highlight how important a role diagrams have played in communicating scientific ideas. For many people, the rise of the infographic is linked to the digital age, yet this exhibition shows that scientists and statisticians have used images to explain data for centuries. The items on display run from a 17th century illustrated diagram to a moving infographic of currents in the world's oceans compiled by NASA. Among the highlights are the earliest piece in the show, Robert Fludd's 'Great Chain of Being', a visual representation of a hierarchically ordered universe from 1617; Eberhard Werner Happel's map charting the oceans' currents, based on the observations of contemporary explorers and mariners, from 1685; Edmond Halley's 'An Historical Account of the Trade Winds, and Monsoons', which was the first meteorological map in 1686; William Farr's 'Temperature And Mortality Of London', charting cycles of temperature and cholera deaths for 1840-1850; John Snow's plotting of the 1854 London cholera infections in Soho, which revealed they stemmed from a public water pump in Broad Street; Florence Nightingale's 'Rose Diagram' from 1858, showing that significantly more deaths in the Crimean War were due to poor hospital conditions than battlefield wounds; Ernst Haeckel's 'The Pedigree of Man', organising all life on Earth into trees, inspired by the ideas of Charles Darwin, from 1879; and the Epidemic Planet chart, based on the Global Epidemic and Mobility model, which researchers used to accurately forecast the 2009 pandemic influenza outbreak. British Library until 26th May.
Strange Beauty: Masters Of The German Renaissance takes a fresh look at paintings, drawings and prints by major artists of the period, examining the striking changes in the ways these works were perceived in their time, in the recent past, and how they are viewed today. The exhibition has a particular focus on works by Hans Holbein the Younger, Albrecht Durer and Lucas Cranach the Elder. The German Renaissance was part of the cultural and artistic awakening that spread across Northern Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, and German artists developed an international reputation, their fame reaching all parts of Europe. Paintings such as Holbein's 'The Ambassadors', Albrecht Altdorfer's 'Christ taking Leave of his Mother', Lucas Cranach the Elder's 'Cupid complaining to Venus', Hans Baldung Grien's 'Portrait of a Man' and Durer's 'Saint Jerome' were highly valued in the 16th century for qualities such as expression and inventiveness. However, by the 19th and early 20th centuries German Renaissance art was receiving a very mixed reception. Some viewers admired the artists' technical mastery and their embodiment of a perceived German national identity, while others perceived these works of art as excessive or even ugly, particularly when compared to works of the Italian Renaissance. Other highlights in the show include Matthias Grunewald's drawing 'An Elderly Woman with Clasped Hands', the Holbein miniature of 'Anne of Cleves', Hans Baldung Grien's 'Portrait of Young Man with a Rosary', and for the first time ever, a reconstruction of the altarpiece Benedictine Abbey of Liesborn, created around 1465, but dismembered, sold and scattered across the globe in 1803. National Gallery until 11th May.
Making Painting: JMW Turner And Helen Frankenthaler explores the act of painting through the work of two artists separated by one hundred years and nearly four thousand miles. JMW Turner, celebrated as a great 19th century painter of landscape, transformed the way we see and interpret our natural surroundings. In her canvases of the late 1950s onwards, American artist Helen Frankenthaler translated landscape into abstract compositions characterised by flooding colour and increasingly large scale. The exhibition explores the fellowship that the two artists, a Romantic 19th century Briton and an Abstract Expressionist 20th century American, share in paint across their temporal divide. It includes a significant group of paintings by Frankenthaler from the 1950s to the 1990s, which revolutionised painting, creating bouquets of washy, pastel forms and dark lines, alongside oil paintings and watercolours by Turner from throughout his career, which progress from early bucolic scenes to skies of riotous swirling pigment. There is an exhilarating sense of freedom in Frankenthaler's work, just as there is in the late paintings of Turner. Turner Contemporary, The Rendezvous, Margate until 11th May.
Court And Craft: A Masterpiece From Northern Iraq features a brass container inlaid with intricate scenes of courtly life in gold and silver, a masterpiece of luxury metalwork from the Islamic world. Originally thought to be a wallet, document carrier, or saddlebag, it is now believed to be a shoulder bag, made in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq around 1300. Through some 40 works, the exhibition explores the origins, function and imagery of this masterpiece, as well as the cultural context in which it was made. The 14th century illustrations of the Il-Khanid court, 3 of which are on display, depict such shoulder bags worn by the page of the Khatun, the wife of the ruling Khan. The exquisite crafting of the bag resembles goldsmiths' work, and it is possible that similar bags were produced in gold and even encrusted with jewels. A bejewelled container of the same shape is held by one of the attendants to the Chinese princess Humayun, in a manuscript of poems by Khwaju Kirmani. A highlight of the exhibition is a life-size display recreating this lavish court scene and featuring objects similar to those depicted: crescent-shaped gold earrings like those worn by the lady, a Chinese mirror similar to the one held by the page, and a Syrian glass bottle as depicted on the table. The bag is richly ornamented with roundels featuring musicians, hunters and revellers, over a geometric fretwork pattern characteristic of the inlaid brass vessels for which the city of Mosul was famous. The objects in the exhibition, demonstrate that the technical and stylistic traditions of Mosul metalwork not only survived the Mongol conquest but flourished well into the Il-Khanid period. A section of the exhibition examines the inlaid metalwork tradition of Mosul during the 13th and early 14th centuries. Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, London, until 18th May.
Beyond El Dorado: Power And Gold In Ancient Colombia looks at the complex network of societies in ancient Colombia, a hidden world of distinct and vibrant cultures spanning 1600 BC to AD 1700. In ancient Colombia gold was used to fashion some of the most visually dramatic and sophisticated works of art found anywhere in the Americas before European contact. This exhibition features over 300 exquisite objects drawn from one of the best and most extensive collections of Pre-Hispanic gold in the world. Although gold was not valued as currency in pre-Hispanic Colombia, it had great symbolic meaning. It was one way the elite could publicly assert their rank and semi-divine status, both in life and in death. The remarkable objects in the exhibition reveal glimpses of these cultures' spiritual lives, including engagement with animal spirits though the use of gold objects, music, dancing, sunlight and hallucinogenic substances that all lead to a physical and spiritual transformation enabling communication with the supernatural. Animal iconography is used to express this transformation in powerful pieces demonstrating a wide range of imaginative works of art, showcasing avian pectorals, necklaces with feline claws or representations of men transforming into spectacular bats though the use of profuse body adornment. The exhibition explores the sophisticated gold working techniques, and the technical skills achieved both in the casting and hammering techniques of metals by ancient Colombian artists. Objects include painted Muisca textile and one of the few San Agustín stone sculptures held outside Colombia. Those, together with spectacular large scale gold masks and other materials were part of the objects that accompanied funerary rituals in ancient Colombia. British Museum until 23rd March.
Hannah Hoch is the first major British exhibition of work by the influential German artist. Hannah Hoch was an important member of the Berlin Dada movement and a pioneer in collage. Splicing together images taken from popular magazines, illustrated journals and fashion publications, she created a humorous and moving commentary on society during a time of tremendous social change. Acerbic, astute and funny, Hoch established collage as a key medium for satire whilst being a master of its poetic beauty. Bringing together over 100 works, the exhibition includes collages, photomontages, watercolours and woodcuts, spanning the 1910s to the 1970s, including major works such as 'Staatshäupter (Heads of State)' and 'Flucht (Flight)'. The show charts Hoch's career beginning with early works influenced by her time working in the fashion industry to key photomontages from her Dada period, such as 'Hochfinanz (High Finance)', which sees notable figures collaged together with emblems of industry in a critique of the relationship between financiers and the military at the height of an economic crisis in Europe. Hoch explored the concept of the 'New Woman' in Weimar Germany, presenting complex discussions around gender and identity in a series of both biting and poignant collages. The exhibition includes a number of works from the series 'From an Ethnographic Museum', in which Hoch combines images of female bodies with traditional masks and objects and layers of block colours, capturing the style of the 1920s avant-garde theatre and fashion. Hoch entered a period of lyrical abstraction that explored the materials and possibilities of a newly developing consumer culture in her later works, such as 'Raumfahrt (Space Travel)' and 'Um Einen Roten Mund (Around a Red Mouth)', which makes use of cut-outs from colour-print and popular culture, incorporating red lips, petticoats and crystals. Whitechapel Gallery, London, until 23rd March.
Mystery, Magic And Midnight Feasts: The Many Adventures Of Enid Blyton is the first major exhibition to celebrate the life and work of Britain's most popular - and yet most reviled - author of books for children. The display aims to reveal Blyton's creative imagination and the events that shaped her life and storytelling, in the series she created, such as Noddy, the Famous Five, the Secret Seven and Malory Towers. Enid Blyton was the best selling English language author of the 20th century, and remains one of the most popular writers of all time. In a career that spanned 5 decades, she wrote an astonishing 700+ books and some 4,500 short stories. At the height of her powers, from 1951 to 1954, Blyton produced 192 books, an average of one a week. The books, which were often serialised, captivated children in the same way that Harry Potter has in recent times. Among the highlights of the exhibition are: original hand corrected typescripts including Five Have Plenty of Fun, Last Term At Malory Towers, Look Out, Secret Seven and Cheer Up Little Noddy; personal and nature diaries spanning the 1920s, 1930s and 1960s; Harmsen van der Beek's first Noddy illustration, and a letter to Enid Blyton; personal family photographs, including Blyton as a child; a recently discovered unpublished typescript of Mr Tumpy's Caravan; and her famous typewriter; together with recreations of the Secret Seven's legendary Shed, a Malory Towers classroom, and a life size Noddy car that visitors can sit in. Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books, Ouseburn Valley Newcastle upon Tyne, until 19th March.