Private View held by Richard Andrews
Gold celebrates the beauty and symbolism of the rare and precious metal from the Early Bronze Age to the 20th century. Through 50 items the exhibition explores the distinctive qualities that make gold an enduring expression of the highest status, both earthly and divine. Over millennia and across diverse cultures, gold has been used to represent and reflect royal wealth and power. Among the most striking examples in the exhibition are the Rillaton gold cup, from a Bronze Age burial around 1700 - 1500 BC; a gold crown from Ecuador that pre-dates the Inca invasion; and a tiger's head in gold and rock crystal from the throne of 18th century Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore in India. Other highlights include a design from 1760 by Sir William Chambers and Giovanni Battista Cipriani for the Gold State Coach, the most expensive coach ever made, which has been used at every coronation since that of George IV, together with John Whittaker's illustrated account of the 'Ceremonial of the Coronation of King George IV in the Abbey of St Peter's Westminster', printed entirely in gold; a pair of 18th century lacquer and gilt bronze Japanese bowls; a cigarette case by Carl Faberge, presented to King Edward VII by the Dowager Tsarina of Russia in 1903, made from three colours of gold; 'The Padshahnama (Chronicle of the King of the World)', written on paper flecked with gold, forming an official record of the first ten years of the reign of Shah-Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal; an early 16th century Book of Hours illustrated with gilded miniatures by Jean Pichore; Simon van de Passe's engraved gold portrait medallion of Elizabeth I; and the Ascot Gold Cup won by Edward VII. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 22nd February.
Private Lives Of Print: The Use And Abuse Of Books 1450 - 1550 reveals that books were simultaneously cherished and embellished, mistreated and even vandalised in the first century of the printed age. The exhibition examines how the earliest owners of books produced with the new technology of print using moveable type interacted with their books. Scholars and students often recorded their comments in the margins, while additions of quotations, music, domestic accounts, medical recipes, doodles and drawings of all kinds were common. The 54 lavishly printed treasures include unique copy of the Gutenberg Bible; a hand-coloured copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle, the most heavily illustrated book of the 15th century; a Book of Hours annotated by Katherine Parr; a copy of the Book of St Albans, the first colour printed book in English, a gentleman's guide to heraldry, hawking and hunting, with the addition of a rough pencil sketch of a passionate couple in flagrante delicto; and a copy of the Hypnerotomachia poliphili, an eccentric romance poem, considered by many to be the most beautifully designed book of the Renaissance, with its 16 year old owner's own poem added in the front in 1518. Early printers mimicked the products of the flourishing manuscript trade and consequently many early printed books were painstakingly decorated by hand. The exhibition features illuminations from some of the leading Italian artists of the period, including the Master of the London Pliny. Cambridge University Library, until 11th April.
Giovanni Battista Moroni is a definitive survey of the work of one of the greatest painters of the 16th century. Giovanni Battista Moroni was not only a distinctive portraitist, but also as a fine religious painter, a role for which he is lesser known. For the first time, a number of altarpieces from the churches of the Diocese of Bergamo, northern Italy, are displayed alongside examples of Moroni's portraiture, chronologically charting his rise to the summit of Italian 16th century painting. Moroni captured the exact likeness, character and inner life of his sitters with rare penetrating insight, as revealed in 'Portrait of a Lady', 'A Knight with a Jousting Helmet', 'Portrait of a Gentleman and His Two Daughters', 'The Duke of Albuquerque' and 'The Tailor'. The portraits depict members of the society in which Moroni lived, a cast of compelling Renaissance characters whose lives played out the feuds and family dramas of a pro-Spanish aristocracy living under the Republic of Venice. In capturing the world around him, Moroni's works also offer a vivid record of the fashions, revealing changes in costume as the colourful silks of the portraits of 'Isotta Brembati' and 'Gian Gerolamo Grumelli' yield to the more sombre styles of the Spanish fashion, seen in the portrait of 'Pietro Secco Suardo'. Moroni's religious paintings were completed in accordance with the principles of the Counter-Reformation, in which a worshipper is often depicted as a witness to a sacred scene, as in 'The Last Supper' and 'A Gentleman in Adoration Before the Baptism of Christ'. Royal Academy of Arts until 25th January.
Anarchy & Beauty: William Morris And His Legacy 1860-1960 examines a radical and far-reaching vision that spanned politics, thought and design. The exhibition explores the 'art for the people' movement initiated by William Morris and the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood through portraits, furniture, books, banners, textiles and jewellery. It displays the work of Arts and Crafts practitioners inspired by Morris and 'simple life' philosophers such as Edward Carpenter and Eric Gill, and shows how Morris's radical ideals developed with Patrick Geddes, Raymond Unwin and the Garden City movement, and the way in which 'good design' became available to a wider market through such pioneering home furnishing shops as Ambrose Heal's. The exhibition also explores the ruralist revival of the 1920s and 1930s when leading craft practitioners, the potters Bernard Leach and Michael Cardew, the weaver Ethel Mairet, the hand-blocked textile printers Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher, evolved their own alternative ways of life and work in an increasingly materialistic age. Finally, from the Festival of Britain onwards, it looks at young post-war designers such as Terence Conran who took up Morris's original campaign for making good design available to everyone. Exhibits include William Morris's own handwritten Socialist Diary, his gold-tooled handbound copy of Karl Marx's Le Capital, and the leather satchel he used to carry books and lecture notes; Burne-Jones's spectacular hand painted Prioresses Tale wardrobe; C R Ashbee's Peacock brooch; Eric Gill's erotic Adam and Eve garden roller; and Edward Carpenter's sandals - which began the sandal-wearing craze amongst the English left-wing intelligentsia. National Portrait Gallery until 11th January.
The Sensory War 1914 - 2014 explores the impact of military conflict on the body, mind, environment and human senses over the last century. The show examines how artists depicted the devastating effects of new military technologies utilised in conflict beginning with the First World War. It brings together work from a range of leading artists including Henry Lamb, CRW Nevinson, Paul Nash, Otto Dix, Nancy Spero, Richard Mosse and Omer Fast, and also features works by the 'hibakusha' - survivors of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima - created in the 1970s. The First World War involved a profound re-configuration of sensory experience and perception through the invention of devastating military technologies, which destroyed human lives and altered the environment beyond recognition. Its legacy has continued and evolved through even more radical forms of destruction since then, and artists have struggled to understand the true effect of modern technological warfare. While military and press photography have brought a new capacity to coldly document such lethal displays, artists found a different way of seeing. Highlights include Henry Lamb's 'Advance Dressing Station on the Struma', Henry Tonk's 'An Advanced Dressing Station in France', all 12 plates of Heinrich Hoerle's 'Die Kruppelmappe' alongside his oil painting 'Three Invalids', and Sophie Jodoin's 'Helmets and Gasmasks', drawings of faces wearing gas masks depicting a distorted human physiognomy. Manchester Art Gallery until 22nd February.
Jasper Johns: Regrets is a series of new works by the internationally renowned American artist, inspired by a chance encounter with a 1964 photograph of Lucian Freud posing in Francis Bacon's London studio. The drawings and paintings convey Jasper Johns's creative process and his ability to transform and recast an image in numerous different ways. The photograph, taken by John Deakin, shows Freud seated on a brass bedstead, his hands covering his face in an ambiguous gesture of introspection. It was commissioned and used by Francis Bacon as the source material for one of his own paintings, eventually becoming the basis of 'Study for Self-Portrait'. Johns incorporates not only the subject of the photograph itself, but the physically distressed qualities of the original print, which Bacon had torn, creased and smudged in the course of his work. The missing sections, tears and folds of the original play a prominent role in Johns' composition throughout the series. Johns explored and transformed the image in numerous experiments in oil, watercolour, pencil and ink. In the process he mirrored and doubled the original image, and in doing so, the form of a skull emerged unexpectedly in the centre of his new composition. This 'apparition' creates a reminder of death or memento mori at the heart of the works. Two large paintings and a group of works in ink on plastic are particular highlights of the series and are testament to Johns' profound engagement with his subject, conveying themes of creativity, memory, reflection and mortality. Most of the works are signed and titled 'Regrets - Jasper Johns', seemingly a reference to their profound and contemplative mood, but this signature and title actually derives from a rubber stamp Johns had made some years previously to swiftly decline the stream of requests and invitations that he regularly receives. Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London, until 14th December.
Constructing Worlds: Photography And Architecture In The Modern Age looks beyond simply documenting the built world to explore the power of photography to reveal wider truths about society. The exhibition brings together over 250 works, some rarely ever seen and many shown in Britain for the first time, by 18 leading photographers from the 1930s to now, who have changed the way we view architecture and think about the world in which we live. It offers a global journey around 20th and 21st century architecture, with highlights such as Berenice Abbott's ground-breaking photographs charting the birth of the skyscraper and the transformation of New York into a modernist metropolis in the 1930s; Walker Evans's images of the vernacular architecture of the Deep South, which bore witness to the adverse consequences of modernity in the Great Depression; Lucien Herve's subtle evocations of modernity as found in Chandigarh by Le Corbusier, a modernist symbol of a newly independent India; Julius Shulman's images of the experimental architecture and ideal luxury lifestyle encapsulated in California in the 1950s; the moving nature of Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum under construction as seen by London based photographer Helene Binet; the recent dramatic growth of Chinese urbanisation in huge structures recorded by Nadav Kander; Luisa Lambri's exploration into the reality of inhabiting and living a modernist lifestyle in domestic architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright; the response to the impersonality of individual works of architecture in Andreas Gursky's monumental photographs; and the devastating effects of war in Afghanistan as expressed in the poignant images of Simon Norfolk. Barbican Art Gallery, London, until 11th January.
Fair Faces, Dark Places: Prints And Drawings By William Strang offers a diverse selection of works by the 19th century Scottish artist. The prints and drawings in the exhibition reflect William Strang's versatility as an artist, as well as his technical skill. Strang's subjects ranged from those based in reality, highlighting the stark poverty and social injustice of Victorian Britain, with images such as 'Despair', to the truly fantastical, including strange and macabre allegories such as 'Grotesque', which was inspired by a dream and reflects the influence of Goya, European Symbolist painting and the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. Strang was an advocate for the revival of the hand-printed book and made many narrative illustrations for books, periodicals and his own Scots dialect ballads. Those on show include 'Toomai of the Elephants', an illustration for Rudyard Kipling's short stories, as well as examples of his etchings of subjects from Miguel de Cervantes's 'Don Quixote'. Strang was also a prolific portraitist who produced memorable images of leading artistic and literary figures, as well as his family and friends. Two portraits of Strang's most famous sitter, the poet and novelist Thomas Hardy, offer a comparison between a preparatory pencil study made directly from life, and the finished, more famous (and more flattering) etched version. Strang made many self-portraits, including one example featured here in which he typically depicts himself surrounded by a printing press, prints in various states, bottles of ink and other tools of his trade. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, until 15th February.
Russian Avant Garde Theatre - War, Revolution And Design 1913 - 1933 comprises radical set and costume designs by celebrated figures of the Russian avant-garde working in the theatre. Created over the course of two decades marked by the Russian revolutions and First World War, the works represent an extraordinary point in Russian culture, during which artistic, literary and musical traditions underwent profound transformations. New types of theatrical productions demanded innovative design solutions and benefitted from the unprecedented symbiosis of artists, musicians, directors and performers that characterized the period. Artists who worked in a variety of mediums including painting, architecture, textiles, photography and graphics worked collaboratively on theatrical productions to create a rich variety of design. The majority of the items in the exhibition come from Moscow's Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum collection, for productions ranging from classics, such as Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet and Hamlet, to unfamiliar propagandist plays. Among the 150 works featured are Kazimir Malevich's sketches and lithographs for Victory Over The Sun, a Futurist opera which premiered in 1913 in St Petersburg; and Liubov Popova's set model for The Magnanimous Cuckold, a 1922 farce by Fernand Crommelynck, performed at the radical Meyerhold Theatre, which was comprised of a mechanical mill, with wheels and conveyer belts. Other artists in the exhibition include Alexander Rodchenko, Vladimir Tatlin, Alexandra Exter, El Lissitsky and Varvara Stepanova. Victoria & Albert Museum until 25th January.
Ordinary Beauty: The Photography Of Edwin Smith is a retrospective of one of Britain's foremost 20th century photographers. Edwin Smith captured the essence of the everyday in the people, places, landscapes and buildings that he photographed. His images connote a particular kind of Britishness, one which is eccentric and often nostalgic, and his work was, in part, a plea on behalf of Britain's architectural heritage. This exhibition features over 100 images from his collection of over 60,000 negatives and 20,000 prints, from the 1930s to the 1960s. Smith was highly sought-after by publishers, and in the 1950s he was commissioned by Thames & Hudson for a series of books, among them 'English Parish Churches', 'English Cottages & Farmhouses', 'Scotland', 'England' and 'The Living City: A New View of the City of London'. His work also featured in Vogue, Shell Guides and numerous other publications to illustrate features and books on subjects varying from 'Great Houses of Europe' to 'The Wonders of Italy'. From urban scenes documenting British social history to evocative landscape images and atmospheric interiors, the images displayed reveal the genius and breadth of his work. Alongside his images of Britain the exhibition shows photographs taken on his travels to Europe as well as his published books and photographic equipment. Specially filmed contributions ranging from Alan Bennett to broadcaster Gillian Darley offer personal perspectives of Smith's work. RIBA Architecture Gallery, 66 Portland Place, London W1, until 6th December.
Ancient Lives, New Discoveries uses the latest scientific techniques to shed new light on ancient cultures, showcasing recent research on Egyptian and Sudanese mummified remains. The exhibition uses state-of-the-art technology to virtually explore inside mummy cases and examine the bodies underneath the wrappings of 8 people who lived in the Nile Valley thousands of years ago. The most recent scans undertaken have used the new generation of medical CT scanners, capable of producing data of unprecedented high resolution. The transformation of this data into 3D visualisations has been achieved with volume graphics software usually used in other fields such as car engineering. Each mummy has accompanying large-screen visualisations that journey into the body, through the intact wrappings to reveal the remains, skeleton and the secrets of mummification. The individuals selected cover a time-span of over 4000 years, from the Predynastic period to the Christian era, from sites in Egypt and the Sudan. The emphasis is on revealing different aspects of living and dying in the ancient Nile Valley through these individuals and also through contextual objects such as amulets, canopic jars, musical instruments and items of food. The individuals include: a female adult temple singer from Thebes, mummified around 900BC, whose body reflects the highest level of mummification available at its period, involving the ritual placement of amulets and other magical trappings on the body; and a man of high status, from around 1st to 3rd centuries AD, mummified in distinctive manner, with arms, legs, fingers and toes separately wrapped, facial features painted on the wrappings, natural hair left uncovered, small fragments of gold leaf still preserved on the external surface, and decorative trappings added externally. British Museum until 30th November.
The Glorious Georges celebrates the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian accession to the British throne. The Georges presided over a remarkable era of British history which saw the emergence of many institutions and habits that we regard as quintessentially British today. The Hanoverians surrounded themselves with courtiers - elegant, but decadent and riven with intrigue and scandal - who captured society's imagination and turned the Georgian monarchs and their courtiers into celebrities. A re-presentation of the Queen's State Apartments explores who the Hanoverians were, how they came to rule Britain and how their extraordinary bitter family rows played out in public. Among the exceptional royal ephemera on display are a 1727 book of drawings titled 'The Exact Head Dress of ye British Court Ladyes and Quality', by George I's miniaturist, Bernard Lens III, revealing what the court looked like; and George II's broadsword, with its appropriately hybrid mixture of manufacturers: the hilt was made in Glasgow, the blade in Germany, a reminder that George II was the last British monarch to fight in battle, at Dettingen, near Frankfurt, in 1743. Other highlights include ghostly white paper gowns in the rooms leading up to the State Bedchamber, with a special light effect that projects the shimmering fabrics of actual 18th century gowns on to them; and the richly painted walls and ceiling in the Drawing Room. Hampton Court Palace until 30th November.