News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th April 2011

Commencing

Joan Miro: The Ladder Of Escape is the first major retrospective of the one of the 20th century's greatest artists to be held in London for almost 50 years. The exhibition represents the breadth of Joan Miro's output, with over 150 paintings, works on paper and sculptures. It explores the wider context of his work, bringing to light Miro's political engagement and examining the influence of his Catalan identity, the Spanish Civil War and the rise and fall of Franco's regime. Miro was among the most iconic of modern artists, evolving a Surrealist language of symbols that evokes a sense of freedom and energy in its fantastic imagery and direct colour. Often regarded as a forefather of Abstract Expressionism, his work is celebrated for its serene, colourful allure. However, from his earliest paintings onwards, there is also a more anxious and engaged side to Miro's practice, reflecting the turbulent political times in which he lived. Miro's work encompasses images of rural life such as 'The Farm' and 'Head of a Catalan Peasant', opposition to the Spanish Civil War in 'Aidez l'Espagne' and 'Le Faucheur', and the Second World War in the 'Constellation' paintings, the atmosphere of protest in the late 1960s achieved by blackening or setting fire to pieces such as 'May 1968' and 'Burnt Canvas II', or by creating euphoric explosions of paint in 'Fireworks', through to the 'Hope of a Condemned Man' triptych, in which he publicly declared his opposition to Franco. This exhibition explores these responsive, passionate characteristics across six decades of Miro's extraordinary career. Tate Modern until 11th September.

Robot - A Collection of Robots, Cyborgs and Androids brings together a group of robots in all their guises, some are friendly, others helpful, and a few simply scary. The exhibition encompasses full size robots, robot parts, film props, and promotional costumes and toys, plus collectible robot models. Visitors have the opportunity to come face to face with some of the metal stars of the big screen such as the Planet Robot, thought to be inspired by Robby the Robot from the Hollywood movie Forbidden Planet; a vintage Robocop and a B9 robot torso made by Andy Shaw, the original Dalek builder; Fem-bots represented by the beautiful Grace; a promotional battle droid; a rare Sonny, who starred alongside Will Smith in the film I, Robot; R.A.D. personal robots as featured on Tomorrow's World; and the famous Scooter 2000; plus The Terminator and Judge Dred. In addition to the exhibition, 'Riveting Robots' workshops with robots to make, art and craft activities and prizes to win in robot themed party games, plus a giant robot sculpture to make and a have-a-go obstacle using radio controlled robots, will take place during school holidays and bank holiday weekends. The Historic Dockyard Chatham until 17th June.

Street Cries: Depictions Of London's Poor considers how the urban poor and underprivileged were reflected in art from the 17th to the 19th century. The exhibition comprises significant paintings, prints and drawings by artists including Edward Penny, Marcellus Laroon, Phoebus Levin, Gustave Dore, Theodore Gericault, Thomas Rowlandson and Paul Sandby. The prints and drawings illustrate street vendors and London's urban poor, including travelling carpenters and cane-weavers, prostitutes and criminals. Some of these images present an idealised vision of the poor, while others are amongst the first works of art to attempt a more realistic view of London's underprivileged inhabitants - although these tended to be commercial flops. This is a fascinating exhibition that combines social history and the development of illustration and printmaking. The collection poses questions about how society in these periods was organised, the motives of those making, selling and buying the prints, and the status and identity of the people portrayed. The exhibition explores these issues and offers a chance to see some real gems that are rarely displayed for conservation reasons: delicate watercolours depicting gritty London subject matter. Museum of London until 31st July.

Continuing

The Cult Of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860 - 1900 celebrates the first artistic movement to inspire an entire lifestyle, prizing the importance of art and the pleasure of beautiful things above all else. Comprising over 250 objects, this exhibition gathers many of the greatest masterpieces in painting together with sculpture, design, furniture and architecture, as well as fashion and literature of the era. Aestheticism was a British movement born as a reaction to the art and ideas of the Victorian establishment. The display traces its development from the romantic bohemianism of a small avant-garde circle in the 1860s to a cultural phenomenon. The style was characterised by a widespread use of motifs such as the lily, the sunflower and the peacock feather, drawing on sources as diverse as Ancient Greek art and modern day Japan, which had just been opened up to the West. Aestheticism created an unprecedented public fascination in the lives of artists, and the exhibition explores the dazzling array of personalities in the group, including William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Oscar Wilde. The clear artistic ideal that emerged from the confusion of styles in the mid 19th century was the 'cult of beauty' that brought together the Pre-Raphaelite bohemians like Dante Gabriel Rossetti, maverick figures such as James McNeill Whistler, and the painters of grand, classical subjects like Frederic Leighton and G F Watts. These painters created an entirely new type of beauty, where mood, colour and harmony were more important than the subject. The public became mesmerised by the extravagant dress and the homes or 'Palaces of Art' of figures like Leighton and Lawrence Alma-Tadema. The exquisite interiors and collections within these houses inspired aristocrats, intellectuals and entrepreneurs across the country to reproduce a similar style in their own homes. A number of setpieces within the exhibition evoke interiors of the day, such as the celebrated Grosvenor Gallery exhibition, Whistler's Peacock Room and Rossetti's bedroom in Chelsea. Victoria & Albert Museum until 17th July.

Love Me: Zed Nelson is a reflection on the cultural and commercial forces that drive a global obsession with youth and beauty. Over a period of 5 years photographer Zed Nelson visited 18 countries across 5 continents, photographing cosmetic surgeons, beauty queens and bodybuilders, alongside everyday teenagers, housewives and businessmen. This extensive cross-cultural investigation encompasses an annual prison beauty contest in a South American penitentiary, Iranians queuing for nose jobs in Tehran, and female staff at a Russian nuclear agency competing for the title of 'Miss Atom'. The project explores a new form of globalisation, where an increasingly narrow Western beauty ideal is being exported around the world like a universal brand. Whilst Nelson's subjects appear willing participants in an omnipresent culture of bodily improvement, they might equally be considered hapless victims - at the mercy of larger social forces and locked into an insatiable craving for approval. With deadpan full-frontal poses and no-thrills documentary compositions, Nelson portrays the bloated, sun-scorched anatomies of bodybuilders and the stretched-faced fish pouts of willing victims of cosmetic surgery. The evidence he presents supports the argument that this drastic striving for perfection mostly results in the grotesque. Impressions Gallery, Bradford, until 29th May.

Dirt: The Filthy Reality Of Everyday Life travels across centuries and continents to explore our ambivalent relationship with dirt. Bringing together around 200 objects, spanning visual art, documentary photography, cultural ephemera, scientific artefacts, film and literature, the exhibition uncovers a rich history of disgust and delight in the grimy truths and dirty secrets of our past. In addition, it points to the uncertain future of filth, which poses a significant risk to our health but is also vital to our existence. The exhibition introduces six very different places as a starting point for examining attitudes towards dirt and cleanliness: a home in 17th century Delft in Holland, exploring the widely celebrated and satirised Dutch obsession with cleanliness; a street in Victorian London, with the mudlarks, ragpickers and dustmen and women, whose meagre living depended on the dirt and detritus of the city; a hospital in Glasgow in the 1860s, where Joseph Lister's regime of cleanliness marked the birth of antiseptic surgery; a museum in Dresden in the early 20th century, whose theories were co-opted into the ideological horrors of racial purity and ethnic cleansing by the Nazis; a community in present day New Delhi, where survival by manual scavenging and the clearing of human waste persists; and the ongoing 30 year project to transform New York's Fresh Kills, once the largest landfill in the world, into a public park. Highlights of the display include paintings by Pieter de Hooch; the earliest sketches of bacteria; John Snow's "ghost map" of cholera; beautifully crafted blue delftware; Joseph Lister's scientific paraphernalia; and a wide range of contemporary art, from Igor Eskinja's dust carpet, Susan Collis bejewelled broom and James Croak's dirt window, to video pieces by Bruce Nauman and Mierle Ukeles, plus a specially commissioned work by Serena Korda. Wellcome Collection, London, until 31st August.

James Watt And Our World is a recreation of the attic workshop of the founder of the British Industrial Revolution. When James Watt died in 1819 his workshop at his home near Birmingham was locked and its contents left undisturbed as an 'industrial shrine'. In 1924, the complete workshop, including its door, window, skylight, floorboards and 6,500 objects used or created by Watt, were carefully removed. Although the workshop has previously been displayed, visitors have never been invited inside until now. The vast majority of its contents, once hidden within drawers, on shelves and under piles of tools and papers can now be closely inspected. Watt's workshop is packed with a bewildering array of objects including the world's oldest circular saw, parts for flutes and violins he was making, and even the oldest surviving pieces of sandpaper. The display also includes a roller press developed by Watt to copy letters, a forerunner of the photocopier, and a device used to mint and standardise the size of coins for the first time, developed for the Royal Mint. One of the key objects in the exhibition is Watt's original 1765 model for the first separate condenser - in effect the greatest single improvement to the steam engine ever made. This unassuming brass cylinder, thought to be one of the most significant objects in engineering history, was only discovered in the 1960s, lying under Watt's workbench. The workshop is accompanied by a new gallery of previously unseen objects, photographs and drawings, presenting a portrait of the working life, ingenuity and character of the first mechanical engineer to be propelled to international fame. Watt was perhaps the first scientific entrepreneur, adept at 'turning science into money' and using his skills to generate wealth in a longstanding partnership with business entrepreneur Matthew Boulton. Science Museum, continuing.

Faces In The Crowd: Joseph Wright And Friends In Georgian Derbyshire combines the portraits of the great and the good with period local landscapes to create a picture of Georgian Derbyshire. Central to the exhibition are 8 paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby, the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution. These paintings, which are taking a holiday while their permanent home in Derby is undergoing refurbishment, include Wright's best known work, 'A Philosopher giving that Lecture on the Orrery, in which a Lamp is Put in Place of the Sun', 'The Alchymist' and 'The Blacksmith's Shop'. Other faces in the exhibition include portraits of Erasmus Darwin, the first Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed, the Fifth Duke of Devonshire, the engineer James Brindley, and the glee singers of Tideswell, plus Francis Parsons's pencil drawing, preparatory to the engraving, of master canal builder James Brindley of Wormhill. The accompanying local landscapes include William Marlow's 'A View of Matlock Bath', Joseph Clayton Bentley's watercolour 'On the Derwent', John Bluck's 'Views of Matlock Bath', and C F Buckley's 'Ferry Boat over the Derwent'. Buxton Museum and Art Gallery until 31st May.

Ida Kar: Bohemian Photographer 1908 - 1974 is the first exhibition for 50 years devoted to the work of the woman photographer at the heart of the creative avant-garde. The display of almost 100 photographs by Ida Kar offers a fascinating insight into the cultural life of post Second World War Britain, and an opportunity to see both iconic works, and others not previously exhibited. It charts Kar's life and career from her first studio in Cairo in the late 1930s through her move to London in 1945, where she was introduced to the British art world through the family of Jacob Epstein and her husband Victor Musgrave. The exhibition includes striking portraits of artists such as Henry Moore, Georges Braque, Gino Severini, Feliks Topolski, Stanley Spencer, Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray, Le Corbusier, Barbara Hepworth and Bridget Riley, and writers such as Iris Murdoch, Jean-Paul Sartre, Doris Lessing, Colin MacInnes and T S Eliot. Among the portraits on display for the first time are of artist Yves Klein, shown at his first highly controversial London exhibition in 1957 in front of one of his famous monochrome works, in the distinctive blue-colour he was later to patent as his own; the 'art strike' artist and political activist Gustav Metzge, taken at an exhibition entitled 'Festival of Misfits'; and Royston Ellis, a poet and friend of John Lennon who inspired the song 'Paperback Writer'. Kar was instrumental in encouraging the acceptance of photography as a fine art when, in 1960, she became the first photographer to be honoured with a major retrospective in London, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Other material on display from the photographer's archive includes letters, a sitters' book and a portfolio book made in 1954 of her trip to the artists' studios of Paris. National Portrait Gallery until 19th June.

Concluding

Waterline is a photographic exhibition revealing the joys and trials of the heyday of cruising, from the 1920s to the 1970s. Cruising grew in popularity after the First World War, with passengers wanting to travel by sea for pleasure, rather than simply to get from one place to another. Liners were microcosms of society, where class boundaries were preserved, with first class passengers and officers travelling in greater style and luxury than third class passengers and crews. Following the Second World War and hardships of the 1950s, the 1960s brought rising incomes, increased leisure time and other social changes, and liners of two and three classes were converted into one class ships, where attention was increasingly paid to better facilities for all. The images in this exhibition reflect the experiences of passengers and crew, and show the range of destinations visited, near and far. Conga lines, lifeboat drills, sumptuous displays of cruise food and visits ashore all feature in historical film footage. Photography was a profitable business in the early days of cruising, when few passengers owned cameras, and onboard photographers worked long hours, developing negatives in makeshift dark rooms to prepare prints sold to holidaymakers. The photographers captured all aspects of shipboard life, exotic destinations, local communities, flora and fauna, famous landmarks and the ships themselves. These photographs were also used by companies for publicity and made into calendars and postcards for sale. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until 25th April.

Picasso To Julie Mehretu features graphic art from across the world, exploring the significant interchange of ideas between artists mainly working in Europe and America during the past hundred years. It showcases some of the greatest artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, starting with Picasso's study for 'Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon', the painting that changed the art world in 1907, and concluding with work by Julie Mehretu, the Ethiopian-born artist who is one of the stars of the contemporary international art scene. The exhibition features 70 works, most of which have never been on public display before. Impromptu sketches and compositional studies are shown alongside works that are complete in themselves. Some drawings are intended to provide a template for the final product, others to capture retrospectively something executed in another medium. As well as Pablo Picasso, the exhibition features works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Georgio de Chirico, Henri Matisse, Rene Magritte, David Smith and Louise Bourgeois and major contemporary artists, including Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Francesco Clemente, Judy Chicago and William Kentridge. A highlight is Picasso's double page composition 'Leaping Bulls' dating from 1950, the first entry in the Visitors' Book for the Institute of Contemporary Arts. British Museum until 25th April.

Food Glorious Food is a family friendly exhibition that tells the stories that lie behind what we choose to eat. With childhood foodie memories from field to fork, the exhibition examines food's place in British culture: how it is grown, how it is prepared and how it is eaten. What we eat, when, and who we share it with reflects who we are and forms a large part of our daily lives. Drawing on the British Library's oral history archive, and interviews with people from across the regions, the show looks at what's gone from our farms into our shopping trolleys and onto our plates over the last 50 years - and how it has changed in that time. From the influence of rationing, through the post-war expansion of world flavours, to the present crusade against fast food and focus on nutrition, this interactive exhibition shows how the nation's changing relationship with food reflects the concerns of the age. Budding cooks of all ages can enjoy the eclectic displays of labour saving gadgets, historic culinary devices and unusual recipes, before delving into the larder, stocked with interesting food stories and nostalgic packaging of brands gone by. Star objects on display include the Nuremberg Kitchen from 1800, and a toy milk float made by Tri-ang in the 1960s. Little green fingers can work in the vegetable patch play area, while the Food Forum showcases footage from the British Pathe archive, and allows visitors to share their own food likes, dislikes, recipes and memories. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London, until 25th April.