News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th July 2006

Commencing

Modigliani And His Models is the first major exhibition of the work of sculptor and painter Amedeo Modigliani to be held in Britain since the 1960s. It comprises around 55 works, encompassing nudes and portraits, together with sculptures and paintings of caryatids, selected to show particular aspects of his work. Modigliani has always been controversial, leading a satisfyingly dissolute and suitably short life, and establishing an instantly original and recognisable style, yet criticised for pursuing it rigorously. Modigliani almost exclusively painted people, portraits and nudes, most of which were executed in the last six years of his career, between 1913 and 1919. His signature style - swan necked elongated figures and faces with almond eyes - drew on a variety of sources: Renaissance to Rococo painting, the art of Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne and Brancusi, ancient Greek, African and Asian sculpture. As the exhibition title suggests, the works featured here are mostly of a succession of women with whom he had relationships as muse, model and mistress. These include the South African born British poet and critic Beatrice Hastings, as in 'Beatrice Hastings in Front of a Door', and his last mistress, the former art student Jeanne Hebuterne, seen in 'Jeanne Hebuterne Sitting' and 'Jeanne Hebuterne, a Door in the Background', who, though nine months pregnant, threw herself out of a fifth storey window on the day after his death. Other portraits, include friends and dealers such as 'Paul Guillaume Seated', and 'Portrait of Picasso', whom he encountered in the cafes and studios of Montparnasse, a crucible in which French and foreign artists, writers, musicians and critics worked side by side to create what is now called 'Modern art'. The Royal Academy of Arts until 15th October.

Building Stories charts the progress of the £27.9m restoration of Kelvingrove, Glasgow's favourite building, and prior to its closure, the most visited museum in Britain outside London. Using archive photographs and new images alongside video footage, the exhibition shows the changes, both dramatic and subtle, which have been made to the Glasgow landmark during 3 years of building work. Apart from cleaning and restoration, the most significant work was the opening up of the basement, previously used for storage and offices, which has provided a new temporary exhibition space, a conference and lecture theatre, education rooms, a restaurant, and shop. Overall there is now an additional 35% of floor space in use, with 8,000 items on display, in comparison to 5,000 previously. Within the refurbished structure, the display of the collection has been completely rethought, integrating the museum artefacts with the gallery works of art, to provide each with a better context. Among the highlights of the display are: Spitfire LA198 from the 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, hanging from the roof of the west court; the Charles Rennie Mackintosh gallery, including the Mackintosh Tearoom, after 9 years of restoration; Sir Roger, the elephant joined by a new giraffe; the winter/summer diorama, showing animals and birds in their seasonal pelts and feathers; the Ceratosaurus, a 40ft long dinosaur (no museum is complete without one); Glasgow Boys and Scottish Colourists galleries; Dali's 'Christ of St John of The Cross'; Rembrandt's 'A Man in Armour'; and the Egyptian collection, augmented by 80 treasures loaned from the British Museum. A unique combination - part National Gallery, part V&A, part British Museum and part Tate Gallery. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow continuing.

The Battle Of The Somme marks the 90th anniversary of one of history's most controversial battles. On 1st July 1916 the British Army suffered the heaviest losses ever inflicted on it in a single day, at the beginning of a 5 month campaign that would achieve an uncertain victory at a cost many then, and since, believed too high. The battle has fuelled debate throughout the past 90 years, and has been interpreted in many different ways by historians. This exhibition explores the facts and the perceptions of the Somme, and allows visitors to decide where they stand on a battle in which over 1,200,000 soldiers became casualties. It offers multiple perspectives on the Battle of the Somme: those of the British politicians faced with substantial Allied losses, the generals, their critics, and the voices of those who fought, and who died. The political, strategic, and technological imperatives that influenced the campaign are investigated, together with the effect of the battle on the progress of the War, public opinion about it at the time, and how it has been viewed in long term popular culture. It is remarkable that at last there is an open minded reassessment of the events, instead of the usual unquestioning acceptance of the 'lions led by donkeys' line fostered by a combination of outdated class war and unthinking sentimentality. National Army Museum, Chelsea until July 2007.

Continuing

Dino Jaws presents ten of the most lifelike animatronic dinosaurs ever created, in an examination of what and how the prehistoric creatures ate (including each other), based on the latest interpretation of fossil evidence. Costing £100,000 to build each, they range from the flesh eating T rex to the herbivorous Euoplocephalus, including the 9m long Baryonyx, with 96 serrated teeth and a 30cm front claw with which it scooped fish from water, an Iguanodon, which grasped plants with its flexible fifth finger, a pack of Velociraptor devouring the carcass of a baby Protoceraptops, and a Coelophysis, which ate its own young (well who hasn't wanted to do that?). In addition, there are three life sized animatronic dinosaur heads of Tyrannosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Edmontosaurus, demonstrating the difference between flesh and plant eaters. One side of each head is complete, but the other is just the bare bone in order to demonstrate how the teeth and jaws worked to tear and chew the food. 15 years on since the first moving dinosaurs were created, these are the scariest yet. The latest in animatroinics give the exhibits the most fluid movement and realistic sound since the real ones became extinct - they do everything except walk (which is probably quite comforting). As with all these kinds of exhibitions, as well as examining the food that goes in, undue attention is also given to what comes out. In addition, there is a virtual dig, which uses specialised tools to unearth fossilised teeth, claws and stomach contents, based on the actual dig that discovered the first Baryonyx in a gravel pit near Dorking in 1983. Natural History Museum until 15th April.

Modern British Art: The First 100 Years launches the £8.6m extension to Pallant House, the Grade 1 listed Queen Anne town house, which is home to the bequeathed collections of Walter Hussey, Charles Kearley, John Birch and Colin St John Wilson. The new wing, which has quadrupled the exhibition space, was designed by architects Long & Kentish in association with Colin St John Wilson. The ground floor, in keeping with the domestic scale of the house, includes a bookshop, cafe, prints and drawings room, reference library and reading room, conservation studio, education room and courtyard garden designed by Christopher Bradley-Hole. On the upper floor there are seven simple top lit gallery rooms opening off a long central galleria, one of which can house concerts and public talks. The opening exhibition is a chronological survey of the key themes of British art during the 20th century, including the influence of the European avant garde on the Vorticist movement, the impact of the World Wars and the role of the War Artists Advisory Committee, the significance of The Independent Group in the 1950s and the development of British Pop Art during the 1960s and beyond. Among the highlights are Severini's 'Danseuse No.5', Henry Moore's 'Two Sleepers', Peter Blake's 'Girls and their Hero', Richard Hamilton's 'Swingeing London' Patrick Caulfield's 'Portrait of Juan Gris' and Michael Andrew's 'The Colony Room'. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester until 24th September.

Bejewelled By Tiffany 1837 - 1987 celebrates the design and craftsmanship of the jewels and luxurious objects created by Tiffany & Co during its first 150 years. The most comprehensive exhibition of Tiffany wares ever mounted, the exhibition comprises some 180 pieces from the Tiffany archive, together with jewels loaned from private collections, many of which have never before been on public display. Starting modestly as a 'Fancy Goods' store on Broadway in New York, Tiffany quickly rose to international fame, its jewellery winning medals at the great international exhibitions of the 19th century. The exhibition is displayed chronologically, within which the pieces are arranged thematically, highlighting particular designers, sources of inspiration or the materials favoured at different times. Among the most spectacular are a gold, silver, diamond, pearl and emerald brooch adapted by Bapst from a girdle once owned by the French Empress Eugenie; a necklace with matching brooch of gold and half-pearls, similar to one bought by Abraham Lincoln for his wife to wear at his Inaugural Ball; a leaf spray brooch of gold, platinum, diamonds and amethysts by Rene Lalique; the garland style Wade Necklace of gold, platinum and diamond; an enamelled and diamond orchid by G Paulding Farnham; a 'skyscraper' necklace of platinum and diamond; a 'bird on a rock' brooch by Jean Schlumberger in gold, platinum, yellow and white diamond and ruby; and a dragon brooch by Donald Claflin of platinum, gold, turquoise, diamond, emerald and ruby. Gilbert Collection, Somerset House until 26th November.

Kandinsky: The Path To Abstraction 1908 - 1922 is the first major British exhibition of the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky, one of the most important figures in the evolution of abstract painting. The show includes over 50 paintings and 30 works on paper, focusing on a crucial period in Kandinsky's evolution as an artist, from figurative landscape painter to modernist, as he developed a radically abstract language. This process began with 'Murnau - Landscape with Green House' in which one house is clearly representational, while another group of houses and rooftops suggest an abstract composition. By reducing descriptive details and stripping away superfluous elements, Kandinsky used calligraphic lines as structuring devices within his compositions. With areas of bright colour and a network of these lines, he created mobility and movement in his work, frequently making reference to the free-flowing emotions associated with music and the values attached to specific colours. Series of works entitled 'Impressions' (observations of the natural world), 'Improvisations' (spontaneous expressions of a mood or feeling) and 'Compositions' (inner visions on a grander, more ambitious scale) gave this exploration its fullest expression. While 'Cossacks' contains traces of representation, the overall effect is like an abstract painting. After his experiences of the First World War and the Russian Revolution, the flowing forms and bright colours of Kandinsky's work gave way to a rich, though more muted palette, as in 'White Oval' and 'In Grey', while his forms crystallised into ordered, geometrical structures, in works such as 'Blue Segment' and 'Circles on Black'. Tate Modern until 1st October.

Devil In The Detail: The Paintings Of Adam Elsheimer celebrates one of the unsung heroes in the history of European art. Born in Germany, but working mainly in Italy, Elsheimer died aged just 32, and only about 35 of his pictures survive. His first solo British exhibition brings all but 3 of these works together for the first time, alongside some 20 drawings and prints. Elsheimer worked on a small scale, producing extraordinarily detailed paintings on copper. He is a pivotal figure in the development of Western art, transforming every genre he touched - narrative, landscape and the depiction of interiors - and exerting a profound influence on his contemporaries, especially Rubens and Rembrandt. Though Elsheimer's paintings drew on traditional subject matter - biblical, historical, devotional and mythological - his treatments of them were totally original, often depicting scenes or themes that were hitherto unknown in painting. Elsheimer's innovative compositions and experimentation with the possibilities of light had a tremendous impact on other artists who saw his work. Among the highlights are 'Aurora', which elevated landscape and its atmosphere to the main subject of a picture for the first time; 'The Flight Into Egypt', which contained the first exact rendering of the moon's surface and the Milky Way as a dense array of stars; 'Jupiter and Mercury in the House of Philemon and Baucis', remarkable for its depiction of interior light effects; and 'The Exaltation of the Cross from The Finding and Exaltation of the True Cross' from the Frankfurt Alterpiece, broken up and dispersed during the 18th century, but painstaikingly reassembled again over a 30 year period from 1950. Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh until 3rd September.

Designing Modern Britain examines how innovative design has shaped the modern world over the last 90 years, by reconstructing some of the landmarks with original artefacts. These include a 1931 tube station, featuring Harry Beck's revolutionary diagrammatic map of the London underground system, together with other signage and iconic posters; a room in Berthold Lubetkin's Modernist luxury 1935 Highpoint apartment complex in Highgate; part of the 1951 Festival of Britain on the South Bank, with Ralph Tubbs's Dome Of Discovery and Michael Powell and Hidalgo Moya's Skylon; and Ben Kelly's 1982 transformation of a disused yacht showroom into the Hacienda nightclub in Manchester, the blueprint for warehouse parties and superclubs. Industrial design projects include the first production models of the Alec Issigonis's Morris Minor and Mini, and early examples of Herbert Austin and Stanley Edge's Austin Seven, and Malcolm Sayer and William Heynes's E Type Jaguar - not to mention Clive Sinclair's infamous C5; and the winner of the Great British Design Quest: Concorde, sadly not the real thing, but represented by memorabilia and photographs. The exhibition even tells the story of the humble chair, from Modernist Marcel Breuer in the 1920s, to the latest in moulded plastic by Jasper Morrison. Looking to the future, there are designs and models of proposals for the 2012 Olympics in the Lower Lea Valley, and the regeneration of the Thames Gateway area, with homes, schools and sports stadia. Design Museum, London until 26th November.

Concluding

Undercover Surrealism: Picasso, Miro, Masson And The Vision Of Georges Bataille presents a fresh view of Surrealism, set against the cultural cross currents of Paris in the late 1920s. Painting, film, sculpture, music, photography, masks, manuscripts and ritual objects are all subject to the forensic eye of writer and critic Georges Bataille. His magazine Documents, which ran from 1929 to 1930, confronted the movement, juxtaposing art, ethnography, archaeology and popular culture in such a way that conventional notions of 'primitive' and 'ideal' were overturned. Bataille described himself as Surrealism's 'enemy from within', and his dark, materialist vision of human desires and radical pessimism challenged the idealism of the surrealists with a radical questioning of Western values, of notions of the primitive, ritual, popular culture and of the whole edifice of high art. The exhibition features works by both well known and lesser known artists, including Miro, Dali, Klee, Giacometti, Brancusi, Boiffard, De Chirico, Arp, Nadar, Belmer, Meguerditchian, Bunuel and Ernst, and an entire room of Picassos. The principle of juxtaposition, and of the unexpected visual links that animated Documents, are played out throughout the exhibition, with counter positions such as that of Hollywood film and Picasso's 'Three Dancers', and Faujour's photographs of Parisian slaughterhouses and Masson's paintings, together with the rhythm of Duke Ellington. Hayward Gallery until 30th July.

The Royal Ballet At 75 marks the anniversary of the formation of Britain's national ballet company. It comprises photographs of some of the key figures who shaped the company and influenced British ballet since 1930. These include the founder Ninette de Valios and Lilian Baylis (who provided the company with its first home) by de Valios's brother Gordon Anthony, choreographer Frederick Ashton by Angus McBean, and musical director Constant Lambert by Yvonne Gregory. Dancers from the early years include Pearl Argyle, Lydia Lopokova, Harold Turner and Anton Dolin - represented in vintage prints by photographers such as Paul Tanqueray, Cecil Beaton and Cyril Arapoff. Other images include rarely seen portraits of Alicia Markova by Dorothy Wilding, Margot Fonteyn by Yousuf Karsh and Rudolf Nureyev by Beaton, together with Michael Somes and David Blair by Tanqueray and Vivienne. Among the more contemporary photographs are Peter Wright by Barry Marsden, Wayne Sleep, Irek Mukhamedov and director Monica Mason by Alan Bergman, and Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope by Jillian Edelstein. National Portrait Gallery until 23rd July.

Modernism: Designing A New World 1914 - 1939 explores the key defining movement of 20th century design, and the dreams that swept Europe, Russia and America, in the wake of the First World War, as its pioneers planned for a new and better world. The exhibition features works by key Modernist figures, including artists Piet Mondrian and Fernand Leger, architects Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, furniture designers Marcel Breuer and Alvar Aalto, fashion designer Sonia Delaunay and photographer Man Ray, with over 300 objects and more than 50 film clips. Highlights include the earliest surviving fitted kitchen, discovered recently in Frankfurt after continual use for 80 years; Miroslav Zikmund and Jiri Hanzelka's legendary silver Czech Tatra 87 car; the design for Corbusier's largest and most luxurious building, the Villa Stein De Monzie; paintings such as Leger's 'Ball Bearings', and Mondrian's 'Tableau I, Red, Black, Yellow and Blue'; examples of 'Healthy Body Culture' including X-ray machines and sun lamps and a photograph by Alexander Rodchenko of 'Sun Lovers' engaging in outdoor exercise; iconic cantilever chairs by Marcel Breuer, Mies van der Rohe and Alvar Aalto; drawings by Wassily Kandinsky, based on photographs by Charlotte Rudolph of the dancer Gret Palucca; Harry Beck's first sketch for the London Underground map; and fashions including Sonia Delaunay's knitted wool swimsuit, a suit with a bright, geometric pattern designed by Giacomo Balla, and Alexander Rodchenko's productivist outfit, designed in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. Victoria & Albert Museum until 23rd July.