Private View held by Richard Andrews
Ice Age Art: Arrival Of The Modern Mind comprises over 100 masterpieces of Ice Age sculpture, ceramics, drawing and personal ornaments. These include the oldest known ceramic figures in the world, as well as the oldest known portrait and figurative pieces, all of which were created over 20,000 years ago. Rather than archaeological finds, these striking objects are presented as art made long ago by people with developed brains like our own. Archaeological evidence reveals that the modern brain emerged just over 100,000 years ago with the appearance of art and complex behavior patterns. This exhibition demonstrates how the creators of these works had brains that had the capacity to express themselves symbolically through art and music. One example is a 23,000 year old mammoth ivory sculpture of an 'abstract' figure from Lespugue, France. Picasso was so fascinated with this 'cubist' piece that he kept two copies of it. This figure demonstrates a visual brain capable of abstraction, the essential quality needed to acquire and manipulate knowledge which underpins our ability to analyse what we see. Works by major modern artists including Picasso, Henry Moore and Matisse are included to establish connections across time, highlighting the fundamental human desire to create works of great beauty. This can be appreciated in a striking drawing of two deer engraved on a piece of bone found in the cave of Le Chaffaud, Vienne, France. The deer are well composed within the space and positioned with considered perspective so that they appear to be standing side by side with one slightly behind the other. The works display a variety of ways of encapsulating movement which are the precursors of modern animation and cinema. This theme is further explored in an installation recreating the extraordinary artistry of the great painted caves such as Chauvet, Lascaux and Altamira, to provide the surreal experience of viewing paintings deep underground in the flickering light of burning torches and fat lamps. British Museum until 26th May.
Painted Pomp: Art And Fashion In The Age Of Shakespeare combines portraits and rare survivals of dress from the period to reveal the heights of the art and fashion of 400 years ago. One of the most important groups of Jacobean portraits in the country forms the centrepiece of this exhibition. Nine full length portraits by William Larkin, painted around 1613-18, depict members of an extended family, relatives of Thomas Howard, the first Earl of Suffolk. They may have been made to mark a marriage between the Cecil and Howard families, two of the most powerful Jacobean courtly families during an unsettled period of intrigue and social change. The most striking features of the portraits are the costumes, recorded by the artist in painstaking detail to reflect the huge wealth and status of the sitters. Some extraordinary fashion statements are also captured, including shoe laces threaded through the ear of the 4th Earl of Dorset, and the startling decolletage of Lady Isabel Rich. The paintings record not only the richness of the fabrics and fashions in exquisite detail, but also current ideas of beauty, such as elaborately dressed hair, and skin so pale and translucent as to reveal the blue veins beneath. To help bring the portraits alive, they are accompanied by a selection of early 17th century clothing and accessories. These include an embroidered bodice, rare fans, shoes, beautiful punto in aria lace (literally 'stitches in the air'), gloves embroidered in silks and trimmed with gold and silver, and elaborate men's shirts of fine blackwork embroidery and cutwork. Holburne Museum, Bath, until 6th May
Extinction: Not The End Of The World? tells stories that encompass lost species, survivors of mass extinctions, and those currently endangered. Although over 99% of all species that roamed the earth are now extinct, a rich mix of animals and plants survive. In this exhibition astonishing images and interactive installations bring to life some of those amazing lost species, from the dinosaur to the Irish elk, bizarre insects and super-sized birds, including a new more historically accurate model of the icon of extinction, the dodo, raphus cucullatus. The display celebrates those that have survived past mass extinctions, such as the leatherback turtle, and those that have even returned from the dead. Alongside dramatic photos and film footage, there are 80 real specimens, including the 6ft skull of a 65 million year old chasmosaurus belli - one of the last dinosaurs, the 12ft head and antlers of an extinct Irish elk, the skull of a sabre-tooth tiger, an enormous elephant bird egg, and tiny live Mexican pupfish, cyprinodon longidorsalis, which only exist today because they were saved by the London Zoo when their habitat was drained. The display also highlights those species that are endangered today, with an 8ft model of a bluefin tuna, thunnus thynnus, a Californian condor, a 4ft giant clam, and an adult tiger, panthera tigris, of which only 3,000 remain in the wild. Natural History Museum until 8th September.
Schwitters In Britain is the first major exhibition in Britain to examine the late work of one of the major artists of European Modernism. The exhibition focuses on Kurt Schwitters's British period, from his arrival in Britain as a refugee in 1940 until his death in Cumbria in 1948, and comprises over 150 collages, assemblages and sculptures, many shown for the first time in over 30 years. Schwitters was a significant figure in European Dadaism who invented the concept of Merz: 'the combination, for artistic purposes of all conceivable materials'. Whether those materials were string, cotton wool or a pram wheel, Schwitters considered them to be equal with paint. He is best known for his pioneering use of found objects and everyday materials in abstract collage, installation, poetry and performance. Schwitters's collages often incorporated fragments from packaging and newspapers reflecting British life, such as the London bus tickets and Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts wrappers used in 'Untitled (This is to Certify That)'. Highlights include an early example of Schwitters's unique concept of Merz in the assemblage 'Merz Picture 46 A. The Skittle Picture', the sculpture 'Untitled (Birchwood Sculpture)', and 'Anything with a Stone'. In 1945 Schwitters relocated to the Lake District, and inspired by the rural Cumbrian landscape, began to incorporate natural objects into his work, as shown in small sculptures including 'Untitled (Opening Blossom)', and his last great sculpture and installation, the Merz Barn. Tate Britain until 12th May.
Vikings! explores and challenges conceptions of what has become a mythical period in Scandinavia. The exhibition features more than 500 objects from the Viking period, including jewelry, weapons, carvings, precious metals and household items from the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm, which have rarely been seen outside Scandinavia. Recent archaeological discoveries have shed new light on the Viking Age, challenging commonly held views of this key period in European history. The traditional view of the Vikings - stereotypes of raiders wearing horned helmets - has been replaced by a more complete picture. The exhibition explores the power of mythology and the symbolism of Viking ships; offers insights into domestic life and death rituals; and reveals evidence of astonishing Viking workmanship in jewellery, metalwork, textiles and objects made from glass, bone and amber. Highlights include the earliest Scandinavian crucifix, a trefoil brooch of silver and gold with animal ornamentation, pendants representing the pagan Norse Gods, a silver thorshammer pendant with filigree ornamentation, and an animal-head brooch made from bronze, silver and gold. By bringing together these unique objects with new research, the exhibition reveals who the Vikings really were, and creates a vivid picture of how they lived more than 1,000 years ago. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 12th May.
Through American Eyes: Frederic Church And The Landscape Oil Sketch reveals the majestic scenes and striking colouration in the work of the man considered by many to be the greatest American exponent of the landscape oil sketch. Frederic Church's oil sketches reveal the freshness of his work and the spontaneity of his style as he captured scenes out of doors, some of which he elaborated later in the studio. Regarded as one of the most ambitious of the Hudson River School landscape painters, Church's works reveal a voracious appetite for travel to locations as distant as Ecuador, 'Distant View of the Sangay Volcano, Ecuador', Jordan, 'Ed Deir, Petra', Jamaica, 'Ridges in the Blue Mountains, Jamaica', Germany, 'Konigssee, Bavaria', and the waters off Labrador where he studied icebergs. The exhibition of some 30 oil sketches also includes works executed closer to Church's home on the Hudson in upstate New York, including 'Winter Twilight from Olana' and 'Hudson, New York at Sunset', which reflect his interest in the American landscape and his exploration of the effect of light. They are accompanied by Church's completed oil painting 'Niagara Falls, from the American Side', a canvas of over 2m square, to illustrate the journey from sketch to completed oil painting. National Gallery until 28th April.
Manet: Portraying Life is the first major exhibition in Britain to showcase portraiture by the pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism. The exhibition examines the relationship between Edouard Manet's portrait painting and his scenes of modern life. By translating portrait sitters into actors in his genre paintings, Manet guaranteed the authenticity of the figures that populate his scenes of contemporary life, and asserted a new, more potent relationship between Realism and Modernity. The exhibition is arranged thematically, exploring Manet's world and the landscape of 19th century Parisian society, including The Artist And His Family, through Manet, Suzanne Leenhoff Manet and Leon Koella Leenhoff; Manet And His Artist Friends, such as Berthe Morisot, Eva Gonzales and Claude Monet; Manet And His Literary And Theatrical Friends, including Emile Zola, Zacharie Astruc, Theodore Duret, George Moore, Stephane Mallarme and Fanny Clauss; Status Portraits, such as Georges Clemenceau, Henri Rochefort and Antonin Proust: and The Artist And His Models, which encompasses both female friends such as Mery Laurent and Isabelle Lemonnier, and professional models, such as Victorine Meurent. The display comprises over 50 paintings, spanning Manet's entire career, together with a selection of pastels and contemporary photographs. Highlights include 'The Luncheon', 'Mme Manet in the Conservatory', 'Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets', 'Street Singer', 'Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe', 'The Railway', 'The Artist: Portrait of Marcellin Desboutin', and 'Music in the Tuileries Gardens'. Royal Academy of Arts until 14th April.
Love And Devotion: From Persia And Beyond celebrates the beauty of Persian manuscripts, and the stories of human and divine love that they tell. The exhibition features over 60 stunning Persian manuscripts, including rare examples of 13th to 18th century Persian, Mughal Indian and Ottoman Turkish illustrated manuscripts. These magnificently illustrated works come from one of the richest periods in the history of the book, and give a fascinating insight into the great artistic and literary culture of Persia and its timeless epics, tales and romances. They include a poetic history of Alexander The Great; the love story of a 6th century King and his Armenian Princess; the tale of Layli and Majnun (the Romeo and Juliet of the East); the biblical travails of Zulaykha and Joseph, a tale of slavery and far flung loyalty; and in a 60,000 couplet work, standing as the longest poem ever written by a single person, the entire history of humanity within the Iran centred Shahnamah (Book Of Kings). The shapeliness and beauty of the calligraphic script, the illuminations in gold and lapis-lazuli, the exquisite motifs of flora and fauna, and the delicately painted images are all testament to the love, care, dedication and devotion of all those who were involved in their production. They transcend the bounds of language, culture and religion. Bodlian Library, Oxford, until 28th April.
Light Show explores the experiential and phenomenal aspects of light by bringing together sculptures and installations that use light to sculpt and shape space in different ways. The exhibition showcases artworks created from the 1960s to the present day, including immersive environments, free-standing light sculptures and projections. From atmospheric installations to intangible sculptures that you can move around - and even through - visitors can experience light in all of its spatial and sensory forms. Individual artworks explore different aspects of light such as colour, duration, intensity and projection, as well as perceptual phenomena. They also use light to address architecture, science and film, and do so using a variety of lighting technologies. The display comprises some of the most visually stimulating artworks created in recent years, and also includes rare works not seen for decades and specially re-created. The show features works by 22 artists including David Batchelor, Jim Campbell, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Bill Culbert, Olafur Eliasson, Fischli and Weiss, Dan Flavin, Ceal Floyer, Nancy Holt, Jenny Holzer, Ann Veronica Janssens, Brigitte Kowanz, Anthony McCall, François Morellet, Ivan Navarro, Philippe Parreno, Katie Paterson, Conrad Shawcross, James Turrell, Leo Villareal, Doug Wheeler and Cerith Wyn Evans. Hayward Gallery until 28th April.
The Swords Of Middle Earth features proof copies of 4 heroic swords used in the The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy, based on J R R Tolkien's epic tale of Middle-earth. The evocatively named swords were crafted in the past two years by swordsmith Peter Lyon, and award-winning production workshop Weta, the creators of the original swords for both The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit film productions. They are not simply props but real fighting weapons. The two-handed sword Anduril, originally called Narsil, was forged by the dwarf weaponsmith, Telchar of Nogrod was used by King Elendil against Sauron, during the battle of Dagorlad. The hand-and-a-half sword of Aragorn, when he went under the name Strider, a long, elegant and plain fighting sword bears a simple blade with neither flourish nor adornment, with a grip bound in leather. The two-handed sword of the wizard Gandalf, which was named Glamdring, and was forged by Elves in the First Age for Turgon, has a blade that is slightly leaf-shaped, and glows blue or white when evil Orcs or Balrogs are nearby, as do all Elven blades. Sting, the sword of Frodo Baggins, was given to him by his cousin Bilbo Baggins, who found it in a Troll-hoard in the caves beneath The Misty Mountains, Gondolin, and although only a dagger, it was of sword-length for a small Hobbit. Royal Armories, Leeds, until 28th February.
Death: A Self Portrait - The Richard Harris Collection is a selection of works from a unique collection devoted to the iconography of death and our complex and contradictory attitudes towards it. Assembled by Richard Harris, a former antique print dealer based in Chicago, the collection is spectacularly diverse, including artworks, historical artefacts, scientific specimens and ephemera from across the world. The exhibition of some 300 works, by turns disturbing, macabre and moving, includes rare prints by Rembrandt, Durer and Goya; anatomical drawings; war art and antique metamorphic postcards; human remains; Renaissance vanitas paintings; a group of ancient Incan skulls; 20th century installations celebrating Mexico's Day of the Dead; and a spectacular chandelier made of 3000 plaster-cast bones by British artist Jodie Carey. Contemplating Death explores the pressing of our own mortality upon us, through memento mori which range across media and centuries to include works by Warhol, van Utrecht and Mapplethorpe, together with netsuke miniatures and porcelain, bronze and ivory skulls. The Dance Of Death focuses on the levelling universality of death, from the iconography of the medieval 'Danse Macabre', which emerged in a landscape of plague, famine and war, to the entwined skeletons who dance through Tibetan Chitipati art. Violent Death is dominated by Jacques Callot's 'The Miseries and Misfortunes of War', Francisco Goya's 'The Disasters of War' and Otto Dix's 'The War', works of chaos, brutality and, more troublingly, aesthetic beauty. Commemoration follows some of the varied rituals around death, burial and mourning, from a Pacific Island tau tau, or grave guardian, and pre-Colombian Aztec vessels to American photographs of individuals posing with macabre props. Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road London NW1, until 24th February.
Hartnell To Amies: Couture By Royal Appointment is a retrospective of London couture design after the Second World War. The exhibition explores how the Queen's patronage of ground breaking British designers Norman Hartnell, Hardy Amies and Frederick Fox helped to establish London as an international fashion centre. Whilst the English have been renowned for their tailoring since the 18th century, there was little typically British couture until Norman Hartnell opened in 1923. Known for his landmark art-moderne House of 1935, war-time Utility designs, and the Queen's wedding dress in 1947 and Coronation Dress of 1953, the iconic dress of the mid-20th century, Hartnell expressed the characteristics and the quality of British high fashion, and set the standard for generations to come. Hardy Amies's career began as designer at Lachasse, noted for its tailored suits, and he was in tune with Christian Dior's New Look. By 1951 Princess Elizabeth ordered from him, and as Queen Elizabeth II did so for the next five decades. Amies became a successful menswear designer in 1959 with the first recorded men's catwalk show. The milliner's role in London couture is examined through the work of Australian born designer Frederick Fox. His most famous designs are the hats he created for Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and many celebrities worldwide. The exhibition ends with a discussion of the design house in the current fashion industry and the resurgence of British heritage brands, traditional tailoring and dressmaking. The Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1, until 23rd February.