News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th June 2013


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 1,250 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 11,000 submissions, from 27 countries, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. The majority of works are for sale, offering visitors an opportunity to purchase original artwork by both high profile and up and coming artists. Over £70,000 is given out to artists included in the exhibition through 10 prizes. This year the show has been masterminded by Norman Ackroyd and Eva Jiricna. Among the highlights are Grayson Perry's series of 6 contemporary tapestries 'The Vanity of Small Differences', inspired by Hogarth's 'A Rake's Progress'; a room dedicated to portraiture, with new works by Frank Auerbach, Tom Phillips, Michael Craig-Martin and Alex Katz; a new large-scale sculpture by Anthony Caro; and works by Ron Arad, Sean Scully and Jock McFadyen. The Royal Academy of Arts until 18th August.

Blooming Marvellous reveals 400 years of botanical art that helped scientists learn about plants. Before the invention of microscopes, illustrations were an important tool for studying plants, and botanical artists were recruited on early scientific expeditions around the world, to record species never before seen in Europe in drawings, notebooks and paintings. This exhibition features important botanical art, including watercolours, pen sketches and drawings, much of which date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Among the artists whose works are included are: Sydney Parkinson, a member of Captain Cook's voyage to the South Pacific, who produced 1,000 plant drawings, although he did not survive the return journey; Georg Dionysius Ehret, who developed a new style of illustration that showed the parts of the flower separately and in greater detail, making it easier for scientists to study them, which has been used by botanical illustrators ever since; Franz Bauer, the first paid botanical artist at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, who is still regarded as one of the most technically sophisticated botanical artists of all time; and Arthur Harry Church, who developed a new style of illustration influenced by the decorative Art Nouveau movement to reveal the intricate internal structures of flowers. In addition, the exhibition includes examples of preserved plants. It also reveals how today, scanning electron microscope can magnifies specimens up to 250,000 times their size, allowing scientists to explore far beyond the reaches of the human eye to help appreciate the scientific value and beauty of plants in an entirely new way. Natural History Museum, Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire, until 18th August.

Poetry In Sound: The Music Of Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976) explores the literary, political and historical inspirations behind some of greatest works of Britain's foremost composer of the 20th century. Benjamin Britten's compositional output spans almost every musical genre, from opera to string quartets to solo songs. Instantly recognisable, his music is imbued with the spirit of his time and place, yet it transcends cultural and geographical boundaries. This exhibition explores the poetic and literary influences on his distinctive musical sound world, including his creative collaboration with W H Auden, and his settings of texts by such authors as William Blake, Wilfred Owen, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Henry James and William Shakespeare. The display includes Britten's handwritten manuscripts, as well as photographs, letters, first editions and unique sound recordings. On public display for the first time is the draft score of 'The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra', which reveals the fluency with which Britten was able to construct a large-scale work. The manuscript is displayed alongside Wilfred Owen's first draft of his poem 'Anthem for Doomed Youth', one of several Owen poems that Britten incorporated into his 'War Requiem'; a signed manuscript of Britten's adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream; and a programme for the first performance of 'Gloriana' at the Royal Opera House in 1953 as part of the official Coronation festivities. Rarely heard sound recordings in the exhibition include an unknown live recording from the first production of 'Paul Bunyan', accompanied by photographs of the little known 1941 production at Columbia University in New York. British Library until 15th September.


Blumenfeld Studio: New York 1941 - 1960 looks at the latter works of one of the most influential, yet one of the least least known, photographers of the 20th century. Having produced an extensive body of work throughout his 35 year career, it was in the USA that Erwin Blumenfeld's humorous, inventive and personal work flourished. This exhibition celebrates the output of his Central Park studio during the Second World War and post-war boom years, including fashion photography, advertising campaigns, personality portraits, 'war effort' propaganda posters and experimental work, which have since been recognised as significant technical achievements in the field. It features over 90 original modern prints, fully restored in colour, original publication clippings and rarely seen fashion films from the early 60s. After fleeing occupied France in 1941 to settle in New York, the German born photographer was immediately signed up by Harper's Bazaar, and after only 3 years of working in the USA, he had become one of the most famous and highly paid photographers in the business. Blumenfeld enjoyed a 15 year collaboration with Vogue, shooting over 50 covers, including portraits of famous models and high society women of the era. He also regularly worked with other fashion magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Life Magazine, as well as producing major advertising campaigns for fashion and beauty clients, including Dior, Elizabeth Arden, Max Factor, L'Oreal and Helena Rubenstein. Highly inventive and often opposing conventional codes, Blumenfeld developed his own idiosyncratic style, using photomontage, solarisation, colour slides and a host of hybrid techniques. From the start of his career, he was very much influenced by the idea of photography as art, wishing to be respected as an avant-garde artist rather than a fashion photographer. Somerset House, until 1st September.

Mary Rose Museum has opened in the same dockyard at which Henry VIII's most celebrated warship was built over 500 years ago, 30 years since the hull was raised from the bottom of the Solent, and 437 years after she sank on 19th July 1545. The Mary Rose is the only 16th century warship on display anywhere in the world, and the museum reunites the ship with many of the 19,000 artefacts raised from the wreck. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre, the building takes the form of a finely crafted wooden 'jewellery box', with the hull at its centre and galleries running the length of the ship, each at a level corresponding to a deck level on the ship. Artefacts are displayed in such a way as to provide an insight into what these decks would have looked like moments before the ship sank, and tell some of the personal stories of life on board. The lives of a carpenter, cook and an archer and other members of crew (including Hatch, the ship's dog) are revealed by unique objects found with them, as well as their own personal belongings. Life on board is shown from the pewter ware of the officers, musical instruments, books, accessories and clothing, through to simple leather sandals, nit combs and even rat bones, as hundreds of objects are laid out to be explored. In addition, through DNA research, precise reconstructions and the careful use of human remains, the harsh reality of Tudor life is brought home, including the skeleton of an archer with the repetitive strain of pulling huge longbows still etched on his bones. Conservation work on the hull is in its final phase in a 'hot box' with fabric ducts directing dried air at exact temperatures across all parts of the hull, which can currently be viewed through a series of windows giving different aspects over, and around, the ship. Once drying is complete, in 4 to 5 years time, the internal walls will be removed and the hull will be viewed through nothing but air. Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth Dockyard, continuing.

STEADman@77: A Ralph Steadman Retrospective Exhibition celebrates the career (and 77th birthday) of one of the most important British graphic artists of the last 50 years. Ralph Steadman is probably best known for his long collaboration with the writer Hunter S Thompson, most notably providing the illustrations for Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, and helping to create what has become known as 'Gonzo' journalism. The exhibition of over 100 original works explores the full range of Steadman's output, including his earliest published work from 1956, material from Rolling Stone, Private Eye, Punch, the New Statesman, The Times, the New York Times and the Observer, as well as his illustrated books, Sigmund Freud, Alice In Wonderland, Through The Looking Glass, I, Leonardo, The Bid I Am and Animal Farm. There are atmospheric wine drawings from Oddbins catalogues, savage political cartoons, humanitarian pictures, and some of his charming and funny illustrations for children's books. The show also includes examples of the extinct and imaginary 'boids' he created for his most recent book Extinct Boids, featuring exotic, but now sadly extinct, creatures. The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1, until 8th September.

Michael Landy: Saints Alive is an exhibition of kinetic sculpture inspired by Renaissance paintings of saints. Michael Landy's imagination has been captured by images of saints, the colourful and detailed portrayal of their lives, their attributes, and stories of their single-mindedness and strength. Towering over visitors, the seven large scale sculptures swivel and turn, in movements that evoke the drama of each saint's life. The saints Apollonia, Catherine, Francis, Jerome and Thomas, plus an additional figure that takes a number of saints as its inspiration, stand alongside collages on paper that show the creative process on which Landy embarked to arrive at the kinetic sculptures. The works are cast in fibreglass, painted and assembled with the addition of metal cogs, wheels, defunct fan belts and motors, accumulated from junkyards, car boot sales and flea markets. The result looks like a mixture of Victorian automata and Heath Robinson. Landy has reworked the two dimensional images into three dimensional pieces, creating elements hidden from view in the original paintings, such as a saint's back or the fullness of folds of drapery. Keen to encourage interaction with the works, Landy has devised foot pedal mechanisms that allow visitors to crank them to life. Among the paintings that inspired the sculptures are Carlo Crivelli's 'Saint Jerome', Lucas Cranach the Elder's 'Saints Genevieve and Apollonia', Sassetta's 'The Stigmatisation of Saint Francis', Cosimo Tura's 'Saint Jerome' and Pintoricchio's 'Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Donor', which features a 3m diameter wheel that visitors can spin to reveal episodes of the saint's life as they pass among the sculptures, and view a collage created with fragments of wheel images reproduced from paintings. National Gallery until 24th November.

Master Drawings comprises works on paper of the greatest quality drawn by some of the most famous artists in the history of western art. The exhibition features 72 drawings of all types - figure studies, composition sketches, landscapes and portraits - by 51 artists, from Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael; Durer and the artists of the Northern Renaissance; through the centuries to Rubens and Rembrandt; Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard and Goya; Turner, Palmer, Degas, Cezanne and Pissarro; up to Gwen John, David Hockney and Antony Gormley. Many are working drawings, providing a unique insight into artists' thoughts and working methods, while others were made as works of art in their own right. Among the highlights are a study by Michelangelo for the Sistine ceiling, and an image of the Virgin and the risen Christ; Raphael's figure of the kneeling Magdalen, delicately outlined in silverpoint, and the famous studies of the hands and the heads of two Apostles for the Transfiguration; Durer's 'View of the Cembra Valley'; Rembrandt's 'Head Study of an Old Man'; a self portrait by Samuel Palmer; and watercolour sketches by JMW Turner from the beginning and end of his career. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 18th August.

IncrEdibles: A Voyage Through Surprising Edible Plants offers an opportunity to experience the weird and wonderful world of incredible edible plants. Tasty edibles that are sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly, sometimes surprising and sometimes just plain weird are spread throughout the gardens. The Palm House is home to 60 edible plants, revealing how many of the everyday foods we eat have their roots in the rainforest. The Palm House Pond has been transformed into a boating lake and participatory artwork, the centre piece of which is a floating pineapple island. Visitors can stroll over a walkway running across the water to the island, and watch the small colourful rowing boats, drift lazily past, or hire a boat themselves, explore the pond, and enter the secret banana grotto beneath the pineapple. From July onwards the Palm House Parterre will be transformed into an edible display including aubergine, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, harking back to a time when it was used for purely practical reasons, to grow crops for the nation during the two World Wars. Alongside the parterre, the Broadwalk is planted with 16 different varieties of pumpkins and squashes, which will provide a splash of colour in the autumn. Next door, in the Waterlilly House, 30 species of chillies have been planted alongside tropical edibles. The Global Kitchen Garden features over 90 edible plants from different regions of the world including South America, West Asia and Europe, with grapes, pomegranate and olive trees. In the Rose Garden's Tea Party, a huge variety of different edible plants are growing out of plates, goblets, dishes, jugs and platters. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew until 3rd November.


Force Of Nature: Picturing Ruskin's Landscape examines the huge theme of landscape, as reflected in the thoughts and opinions of the Victorian critic and scholar. The depiction of the landscape in art proved a lifelong obsession for John Ruskin. While his belief that artists should reflect and record their environment was unwavering, Ruskin's view on how to best capture the 'truth' of a vista or scene was to go through a radical shift in later life. In particular, this exhibition addresses Ruskin's notions of the physical and emotional truths of landscape art. The display comprises three sections, each taking inspiration from the developments in Ruskin's thinking; The Mountain In Miniature looks at the genesis of Ruskin's ideas, observing parallels between patterns in small geological forms and those in the broader landscape; Seeing The Landscape takes its focus from Ruskin's initial belief in realistic, visually accurate representation; and Sensing The Landscape looks at how Turner prompted Ruskin to revise his opinions and explores the importance of conveying our emotional response to the landscape. The exhibition brings together a host of historical and contemporary work, including Turner's 'Landscape with Water', William Holman Hunt's 'The Sphinx, Giza, Looking Towards the Pyramids of Saqqara' and 'Llyn-y-Cau, Cader Idris' by Richard Wilson, as well as examples of Ruskin's own topographical studies, alongside contemporary responses to landscape, such as Julian Opie's 'Jet Stream', Carol Rhodes's 'Surface Mine' and Dan Holdsworth's 'Andoya'. Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, until 23rd June.

Metropolis: Reflections On The Modern City offers visions of the changing rhythms and human interactions of modern cities and urban life. The exhibition features some 35 works in a variety of media, created in the past decade by 25 artists of international standing. Among the highlights, Miao Xiaochun's monumental photographic work 'Orbit' depicts the frantic pace of Beijing, a moving landscape where vehicles and pedestrians are captured in their metropolitan lives; Dayanita Singh's 'Dream Villa' photographic series portrays a mysterious and atmospheric view of modern India, infused with light and colour; Mohamed Bourouissa's series 'Peripherique' offers scenes reflecting a carefully staged moment of physical or emotional tension set in the bleak housing estates that encircle Paris; Grazia Toderi's 'Orbit Rosse' comprises moving nocturnal images of cities superimposed to create a mesmerising and hypnotic effect; and Jochem Hendricks's 'Front Windows' depicts an anonymous looking apartment block near Frankfurt station, the silence shattered by the smashing of the windows from the inside. Other artists in the exhibition include Zhang Enli, Beat Streuli, Jitish Kallat, Semyon Faibisovich, Christiane Baumgartner, Ola Kolehmainen, Aleksandra Mir, Nicholas Provost, Matias Faldbakken, Barry McGee, Yang Zhenzhong, Cao Fei, Romauld Hazoume, Josef Robakowski and Rashid Rana. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery until 23rd June.

George Catlin: American Indian Portraits is the first exhibition in Britain of the work of the 19th century American artist, writer and showman since the 1840s. George Catlin documented Native American peoples and their cultures to serve as a record of what he believed to be a passing way of life. What he created is regarded as one of the most important records of indigenous peoples ever made. Catlin was not the only artist to embark on such a project in the 19th century, but his record is the most extensive still in existence. This exhibition comprises over 60 exhibits, including paintings, manuscripts and illustrated books. Catlin made his first Native American Indian portrait in 1826, a sketch of Seneca chief Red Jacket. He made 5 trips in the western part of the United States during the 1830s before the Native American peoples of those regions had been subsumed into the legal boundaries of the United States. The 'Indian Gallery' comprised the materials and work Catlin produced, during and inspired by those trips, which included some 500 portraits, pictures and indigenous artefacts. Catlin aimed to meet as many Indian peoples as he could and his total was around 48 different indigenous groups or 'nations' by the time the 'Indian Gallery' reached its zenith. Catlin's entrepreneurial spirit led him to tour the 'Indian Gallery' in the eastern states from 1837-39, but he failed in selling it to the United States government. He then went on to tour the gallery in Europe for the next 10 years, including exhibitions held in Britain, France and Belgium. Always needing to make financial gains from his endeavours, Catlin used brash entrepreneurial methods to promote the spectacle of the 'Indian Gallery' during its European tour. He was so successful that his record of Native Americans still dominates their representation today. National Portrait Gallery until 23rd June.