Private View held by Richard Andrews
Masterpieces Of Chinese Painting 700 - 1900 is an ambitious survey of one of the world's greatest artistic traditions. The exhibition gathers together the finest examples of Chinese painting created over a 1200 year period and shows more than 70 works, including some of the earliest surviving Chinese paintings. From small scale intimate works by monks and literati to a 14m long scroll painting, many of the paintings are shown in Europe for the first time. The exhibition examines the recurrent themes and evolving aesthetics characteristic of Chinese paintings and looks at the constant interplay between tradition and innovation. It considers how paintings were created for a variety of settings from tombs, temples, palaces, domestic houses and private gardens and in a range of formats from banners, screens, hand-held fans to portable handscrolls and hanging scrolls. Materials, including a large piece of ultramarine pigment created from lapis lazuli discovered in a 10th century artist's studio and studio equipment reconstructed according to a 14th century manual reveal the technical process and traditional techniques employed. Highlights include a 9th century double-sided ceremonial banner 'Bodhisattva Wearing Monastic Robes' showing a sacred and enlightened figure; an illustrated manuscript attributed to Liang Lingzan 'Five Planets and Twenty-Eight Mansions', the earliest surviving painting of astronomy from the Imperial collection; 'Nine Dragons' by Chen Rong, the oldest and finest dragon scroll, in which each of the mythical creatures are expressed in different positions amidst clouds, water and mountains, representing the dynamic forces of nature in Daoism; 'Four Pleasures', attributed to Ren Renfa, a series illustrating the delight in the literati pursuits of calligraphy, painting, music and games; and 'Flowers on the River' by Bada Shanren, one of the longest paintings in the world, showing a superb and intricate handling of ink and control. Victoria & Albert Museum until 19th January.
Laura Ashley, The Romantic Heroine marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Laura Ashley label, celebrating the vision of the romantic heroine of fashion in the 1960s and 1970s. Departing from the knee length and mini-dress styles dominating fashion of the period, Laura Ashley created the look described as 'soft-core femininity' and 'Victorian type demureness'. It was a look that prompted a generation of young women to dress up as Thomas Hardy's milkmaid from Tess of the d'Urbevilles, or Cathy from Wuthering Heights searching in vain across the northern moors for Heathcliff. The exhibition focuses on the dresses that caught the imagination and chimed with the zeitgeist. By the tail end of the Swinging 60s the bright and shiny bubble of optimism had burst, and designers found inspiration, and comfort, in nostalgia for times gone by. There was an appetite for escapism and a move back to nature. TV and film hits included Upstairs Downstairs and Far From the Madding Crowd, while fashion fans shopped at Antiquarius on the Kings Road and collected Art Nouveau and Aubrey Beardsley prints. This exhibition encapsulates the vision of the romantic heroine that this iconic designer gave to fashion in the 1960s and 1970s in a selection of 70 dresses from this era. Laura Ashley gave the world the chaste cotton print maxi-dress in earth-hewn natural colours and a notion of life in a golden age - a pastoral idyll far away from the mad city life. Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, until 5th January.
Stanley Spencer: Heaven In A Hell Of War provides a unique opportunity to see the responses to the First World War away from their permanent country home of Sandham Memorial Chapel, while it undergoes restoration. Stanley Spencer painted scenes of his own wartime experiences, as a hospital orderly in Bristol and as a soldier on the Salonika front. His recollections, painted entirely from memory, focus on the domestic rather than combative and evoke everyday experience - washing lockers, inspecting kit, sorting laundry, scrubbing floors and taking tea - in which he found spiritual resonance and sustenance. Peppered with personal and unexpected details, they combine the realism of everyday life with dreamlike visions drawn from his imagination. In his own words, the paintings are 'a symphony of rashers of bacon' with 'tea-making obligato' and describe the banal daily life that, to those from the battlefield, represented a 'heaven in a hell of war'. For Spencer, the menial became the miraculous - a form of reconciliation. These large scale paintings, which took 6 years to create, were completed in 1932. As well as being one of Britain's most important war artists, Spencer was a key figure in the development of figurative art in 20th century Britain and this exhibition offers a chance to look up close at his accomplished paintwork, sensitive use of colour, and masterly still-life. Somerset House, Strand, London WC2, until 26th January.
Elizabeth I & Her People explores the achievements of the Elizabethan period through portraits of the queen, nobility and rising middle classes. The exhibition includes not only some of the most important and visually impressive portraits of Elizabeth I and her courtiers, but also intriguing lesser-known images of Elizabethan merchants, lawyers, goldsmiths, butchers, calligraphers, playwrights and artists, all of whom contributed to the making of a nation and a new world power. The display comprises over 100 exhibits, including not only paintings, but costumes, crafts, coins, jewellery, manuscripts and accessories ranging from diamond and ruby rings to a frog-shaped purse. The reign of Queen Elizabeth I, which spanned over 40 years, was a time of economic stability, with outstanding successes in the fields of maritime exploration and defence. The period also saw a huge expansion in trade, the creation of new industries, a rise in social mobility, urbanisation and the development of an extraordinary literary culture. The display shows how members of a growing wealthy middle class sought to have their likenesses captured for posterity as the mid-16th century interest in portraiture broadened. Portraits of courtiers such as William Cecil, Christopher Hatton, Bess of Hardwick and Elizabeth Vernon are joined by explorers such as Francis Drake and Martin Frobisher, ambassadors such as Abd el-Quahed ben Messaoud, financiers such as Thomas Gresham and poets including John Donne. The exhibition tells the stories of those individuals whose achievements brought about these changes in the context of an emerging national identity, as well as giving a glimpse into their way of life through accessories and artefacts. It also shows how this was a period in which appearance was made more self-conscious, with calls for the enforcement of sumptuary laws that attempted to determine what was appropriate to be worn by people of different stations. National Portrait Gallery until 5th January.
A Highland Romance explores how ideas of Scotland and Scottishness have changed over the last two centuries. The exhibition asks if Victorian stereotypes of Scotland - desolate snowscapes, dramatic stag hunts, castle ruins, tartan cloth and highland cattle - are enduring, and if they were ever a fair representation of the nation. 19th century paintings and works on paper by leading Scottish artists, such as such as Joseph Farquharson and John MacWhirter, are on show alongside depictions of Scotland by artists from England, including John Everett Millais and Edwin Landseer. Dating from about 1830 to 1904, highlights include 'A Spate in the Highlands' by Peter Graham, 'Linlithgow Palace' by JMW Turner, 'Portrait of Sir Alexander Keith' by David Wilkie, 'The Chase' by Richard Ansdell, 'Arran (Across Kilbrannen Sound)' by Henry Moore, 'The Sun Had Closed the Winter Day' by Joseph Farquharson, 'Craigmillar Castle' by the Reverend John Thomson of Duddingston, and 'Sir Piercie Shafton and Mysie Happer' by Henry Liverseege, depicting a scene from a novel by Sir Walter Scott, plus a rare printed textile based on a David Wilkie painting. In addition, there are the contemporary works 'Some Like it Hot' by David Mach's and 'In Revolution Politics Becomes Nature' by Ian Hamilton Finlay. The exhibition examines how ideas of Scottishness have changed (or not), what it means to be Scottish, and what Scotland means to the United Kingdom as a nation. Manchester Art Gallery until September.
Paul Klee: Making Visible features the work of one of the most renowned artists to work at the Bauhaus, who was both a playful and a radical figure in European Modernism. This exhibition of Paul Klee's intense and intricate work challenges his reputation as a solitary dreamer, revealing the innovation and rigour with which he created his work and presented it to the public. Bringing together over 130 colourful drawings, watercolours and paintings it spans the three decades of Klee's career, from his emergence in Munich in the 1910s, through his years of teaching at the Bauhaus in the 1920s, up to his final paintings made in Bern. The exhibition begins with Klee's breakthrough during the First World War, when he first developed his individual abstract patchworks of colour. The many technical innovations that followed are showcased throughout the exhibition, including his unique 'oil transfer' paintings like 'They're Biting', the dynamic colour gradations of 'Suspended Fruit' and the multicoloured pointillism used in 'Memory of a Bird'. The heart of the exhibition focuses on the decade Klee spent teaching and working at the Bauhaus. The abstract canvases he produced here, such as the rhythmical composition 'Fire in the Evening', took his reputation to new international heights by the end of the 1920s. The 1930s then brought about radical changes, as Klee was dismissed from his new teaching position by the Nazis and took refuge in Switzerland, while his works were removed from collections and labelled 'degenerate art' in Germany. Despite the political turmoil, financial insecurity and his declining health, he nevertheless became even more prolific, and the exhibition brings together a group of his final works from the last exhibition. Although he saw his art as a process of spontaneous creativity and natural growth, exemplified by his famous description of drawing as "taking a line for a walk", Klee actually worked with great rigour. Tate Modern until 9th March.
Nelson, Navy, Nation is a new permanent gallery looking at how the Royal Navy shaped individual lives and the course of British history during the 18th century, a period when the Navy became a greater focus of public life than ever before and sea-faring heroes were national celebrities. From the bustling dockyards that were the greatest industrial enterprises of the age, to the ferocious sea battles where so many made the ultimate sacrifice, the display looks at every aspect of the naval story. Covering the period between the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the gallery explores the Navy's impact upon ordinary people, and also features an unrivalled collection relating to Admiral Lord Nelson, placing this legendary figure within a broader historical context. It looks at Nelson's rise to fame, his sudden death and the personal and national grief that was left in his wake. Poignant objects on display include the last letter Nelson wrote to his daughter Horatia, and one of the mourning rings worn by close friends and family at his funeral. Weird and wonderful commemorative items that demonstrate the 'Nelson mania' that gripped the British people can also be seen, from a Battle of the Nile themed bulb planter to toy bricks showing scenes from Nelson's funeral procession. Altogether there are over 250 objects, including exceptional works of art such as Devis's 'Death of Nelson' and William Hogarth's 'Captain Lord George Graham in his Cabin', as well as little known treasures like Gabriel Bray's shipboard watercolours, and iconic items such as Nelson's uniform from the Battle of Trafalgar. Taking in sailors as well as Admirals, landlubbers as well as seadogs, women as well as men and ordinary life as well as the heat of battle, the display tells the story of the Royal Navy in the 18th century, and in doing so tells the story of how British people saw themselves, and their place in the world. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, continuing.
The Night Of Longing: Love And Desire In Japanese Prints is an exhibition of woodcuts and books of the Edo and Meiji periods depicting lovers from literature and life. The exhibition explores how love and desire were presented and accepted in Japanese art during these eras, between 1600 and 1900, through a selection of 40 prints and books by some of the most famous artists of the time, including Harunobu, Utamaro, Hokusai, Hiroshige, Kunisada, Kuniyoshi and Yoshitoshi. The prints range from chaste expressions of longing, such as a lover writing a poem or letter, through to prints of lovers during their most intimate moments. In one print a courtesan is writing the words 'a night of longing' on a scroll as she awaits her lover. Her poetic imagery suggests a more complex yearning that embraces love and the consequences of love, rather than simply desire and its gratification. It is this complex world of emotion, touched by poetic sentiment and shared across centuries, which provides the theme for the display. Images range from lovers yearning for absent partners and expressing their longing in letters and poems; through dramatic scenes of thwarted or desperate lovers, sometimes on the verge of suicide; and 'risque prints' (abuna-e), with suggestions of eroticism or hints that sex is near at hand, through to more explicit images of sexual partners (shunga or 'spring pictures') and their contexts in erotic books; assignations in and around Edo (Tokyo) and the route to the pleasure quarter at night. The display is designed to complement the current Shunga: Sex And Pleasure In Japanese Art exhibition at the British Museum. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 12th January.
Daumier: Visions Of Paris is the first major exhibition of the prolific French artist and social commentator to be held in Britain for over 50 years. Admired by the avant-garde circles of 19th century France, Honore Daumier was described by Baudelaire as one of the most important men 'in the whole of modern art'. The exhibition explores Daumier's legacy through 130 works, including paintings, drawings, watercolours and sculptures. Daumier lived and worked through widespread political and social change in France, which encompassed the upheavals of the revolutions to establish a republic, in the face of continued support for the monarchy. The exhibition is displayed chronologically, spanning the breadth and variety of his often experimental artistic output and exploring themes of judgement, spectatorship and reverie. One of Daumier's favourite subjects became the silent contemplation of art, as seen in 'The Print Collector' and in the terrified performer alone on the stage in 'What A Frightful Spectacle'. His extraordinary visual memory allowed him to recall and portray many facets of everyday life in both sympathetic and critical observations. The display features works depicting his working class neighbours on the Quai d'Anjou on the Ile Saint-Louis, as well as topical issues such as fugitives of the cholera epidemics or the experience of travellers in 'A Third Class Carriage'. Daumier also drew parallels between the abuse of power by lawyers in 'The Defence' and the silent vulnerability of those on the margin in 'Clown Playing A Drum'. A staunch Republican, Daumier was particularly renowned for his daring and uncompromising caricatures of the manners and pretensions of his era, including the corruption of the government of Louis-Philippe, the King of France. At the end of his life he created scenes and allegories of the link between nationalism and military action: the ideal female figures of France and Liberty, contrasted with the jester or Don Quixote, two characters Daumier closely identified with. Royal Academy of Arts until 26th January.
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.
Jacob Epstein: Portrait Sculptor features the work of one of the 20th century's leading sculptors. Jacob Epstein placed portraiture at the centre of this work, and this display explores his achievement and practice through busts of artists, writers, politicians and other leading figures. Epstein made portrait busts throughout his entire career. Modelled in clay and cast in bronze, these likenesses were rooted in observation but experimented with an expressive approach to form and texture to evoke the physical and psychological presence of the sitter. Ranging in date from 1916 to 1951, the works in the display include some of Epstein's most celebrated portraits, notably his busts of Joseph Conrad, T S Eliot, Ralph Vaughan Williams, George Bernard Shaw, Ramsay Macdonald, Lucian Freud, Augustus John, William Somerset Maughan, Sybil Thorndike and Bertrand Russell, together with a self portrait. These sculptures are displayed alongside photographs of Epstein's studio by Michael Peto and Ida Kar among others. Showing the studio space, the artist at work and sculptures in progress, these images give a vivid insight into Epstein's artistic world. National Portrait Gallery until 24th November.
Amazon Adventure: Vicious Fishes And Other Riches explores the world's largest and most biologically diverse river with its extraordinary animals, exotic plants and fascinating cultures. This interactive, family friendly Amazon voyage exhibition combines hands-on experiences, magical aquariums, colourful artwork and scientific research. Visitors can learn about unusual creatures, including mysterious pink dolphins, piranhas and anacondas, come face-to-face with stingrays and live tetras, experience the simulated zap of an electric eel, learn about the 'vicious fishes' of the Amazon river, and go to the big fish festival with the people of Barcelos. The exhibition also reveals the environmental dangers facing the Amazon and its inhabitants, such as overfishing, poaching and logging, in order to better understand the importance of managing human impact on natural environments. The experiences on offer include boarding Captain Mo's boat and hearing tales of the 'seven perils'; lifting a life-size, soft, sculpted anaconda; reaching into a tank of rotten leaves and debris to explore the habitat of 'muck fish', a new species of fish discovered living in the Amazon; and exploring inside the belly of a giant catfish replica to find out what it really eats. Horniman Museum, London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23, until 24th November.