Private View held by Richard Andrews
Guercino: Paper To Mind celebrates the work of one of the most significant Italian artists of the Baroque period, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri nicknamed Guercino ("squinter") after a childhood incident left him cross-eyed. A prolific and fluent draughtsman, who was known as 'the Rembrandt of the South', he was hailed for his inventive approach to subject matter, his deftness of touch and his ability to capture drama and movement. This exhibition reflects the Guercino's remarkable technical and compositional ability, as well as his wide ranging choice of subject matter. The works featured include a large study of a male nude, an imaginary landscape, a caricature, a number of informal scenes from everyday life, and exploratory studies for large painted compositions. His sympathy for a variety of human situations is particularly apparent in such humorously observed scenes as 'Interior of a baker's shop'. A prominent feature of Guercino's drawing technique is his varied use of drawing media and techniques. Thus, a goose feather pen dipped in ink enabled him to record his ideas on paper quickly and easily in 'Cupid restraining Mars', characterised by its spontaneity and energy; while in 'A child seen from behind', rubbed red chalk conveys the feel of a baby's dimpled skin; and in 'Two women drying their hair', loosely applied brown wash is used to describe the cascading wet hair drying in front of the open fire. Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, Somerset House until 13th May.
Bright Wings Of Summer: Hertfordshire's Butterflies uses butterfly expert Brian Sawford's photographs as a starting point to explore the wonder and importance of butterflies and moths, the environmental pressures that they are under, and what can be done to ensure their future in a drastically changing landscape. It reveals that locally, while several species have been lost, and a number such as the Grizzled Skipper are close to extinction, volunteers are helping others such as the Purple Emperor to reassert itself in local woodland. An extensive activity programme in association with Hertfordshire and Middlesex Butterfly Conservation includes a guided tour through Tring Park, sessions making butterfly mobiles and storytelling for children, and talks about butterfly conservation for adults.
Fossil Folklore is another exhibition running concurrently, which reveals the truth behind the myths that have grown up around fossils, from dragons and griffins to fairy loaves and angels' money. Associated activities include fossil printmaking for children.
Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring - Butterflies until 22nd April, Fossils until 8th July.
Ortonesque: Joe Orton 1933 - 1967 commemorates the 40th anniversary of the death of the playwright Joe Orton, whose outrageously savage and funny take on life's darker issues led to the coining of the adjective 'ortonesque'. The exhibition takes a chronological look at his life and times, including his life in Leicester (where he was born) and London, his relationship with Kenneth Halliwell, the time spent in prison and on the dole, his alter ego 'Edna Welthorpe', his holidays in Morocco, his plays, novels and diaries and finally, his death and legacy. The exhibition of original items and memorabilia, many of which have never been on public display before, includes the 1967 Evening Standard Award for the play 'Loot', his Morocco diaries, the fur coat that Orton's agent, Peggy Ramsay, bought him (used in the 1987 biographic film Prick Up Your Ears), the Adler typewriter that he used for many years, several of the vandalised Islington Library book covers, and the suitcase he used to visit Morocco and Libya with Kenneth Halliwell, together with literary and personal papers, comprising scripts, photographs, posters, programmes, scrapbooks, letters and manuscripts. New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester, until 7th May.
Face Of Fashion celebrates current fashion portraiture, as the boundaries between advertising, editorial and fine art blur, and the world's fashion photographers shape society's ideas of beauty, sexuality and fame. The exhibition features five photographers from Europe and America. Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott are famous for off beat but glamorous portraits of stars such as Kate Moss, Uma Thurman, Drew Barrymore and Bjork. Producing a strange, and at times anxious, intensity in their constructed images, they create fantasy for the modern age. Corinne Day, an ex-model who has worked with Kate Moss for 15 years, collaborates closely with her subjects, developing a rapport that results in some of the most candid portraits in fashion. Her portraits generated much of the anti-glamour movement of the 1990s. Steven Klein often creates complex and dark narratives in his portraits, including a 'family' sequence with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in which they mock their perceived personas. He is widely acknowledged as one of the most subversive and transgressive of contemporary fashion photographers. Paolo Roversi uses traditional studio techniques and stage lighting to create naturalistic, fragile portraits of his subjects, among them Sting, Juliette Binoche and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Influenced by 19th century portrait photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron, he revels in an ethereal, soulful beauty. Mario Sorrenti is fascinated by people's faces and the passions, fears and vulnerabilities they are capable of communicating. Equally adept at endorsing conventional notions of glamour as he is at subverting them, Sorrenti embodies much of the ambiguity of today's fashion photography. National Portrait Gallery until 28th May.
Callum Innes: From Memory brings together a selection of some of the most significant works by one of Britain's most prolific and rigorous artists, and offers an opportunity to trace the development of his paintings over the past fifteen years. The work of Callum Innes is the result of repeated application and removal of paint from the canvas. Although the final result is calm and authoritative, his paintings nevertheless bear traces of the controlled chaos of their production. He works in series, and examples of 'Identified Forms', 'Isolated Forms', 'Repetitions', 'Monologues', 'Resonances' and paintings made with shellac are included in the exhibition. The 'Monologues' are monumental works made by brushing turpentine into a simply painted ground and dissolving the paint into an expressive, associative torrent. In the shellac paintings Innes draws on the oppositional qualities of shellac and paint to make luminously associative imagery. A major part of the exhibition is devoted to the series of 'Exposed Paintings', in which the canvas is divided geometrically into fields of dense and dissolved paint, and unpainted ground. The exhibition reveals how this series has diversified over time. In a new sequence of paintings, Innes exploits the possibilities offered by dissolving violet into and against black in a range of differently proportioned horizontal bands. Modern Art Oxford until 15th April.
Good Impressions: Image And Authority In Medieval Seals looks at medieval life and identity through the images used on seals. Sealing documents was an ancient practice that came to the medieval world through the mediation of Byzantium. The golden period of sealing dates from the 12th to the 14th century, when even the peasant classes used lead seals decorated with simple flowers, stars and crosses. By the 16th century the signature was replacing the seal and the practice fell out of favour apart from at the highest civic levels. Seals were used customarily in financial transactions and abuses were common. An example is the 12th century forgery of Henry II's Great Seal, which is made of lead, whereas the genuine - now lost - seal would have been silver. The lead seal is on display since it remains an accurate representation of how English rulers wanted to be seen from the time of the Norman Conquest until today. Silver examples are shown alongside it, such as that buried with Isabella of Hainault in 1190 and that of Robert Fitzwalter, opponent to King John and proponent of Magna Carta. Fear over the validity of documents meant that many were countersealed. Kings, bishops, nobles and their ladies in the 13th and early 14th century were avid collectors of Classical gems and often used Roman intaglios to counterseal their documents. The recent find of a 13th century seal-die from Swanley in Kent incorporates a high quality representation of the Emperor Antoninus Pius. British Museum until 1st May.
The Triumph Of Eros: Art And Seduction In 18th Century France explores themes of love and eroticism. The impetus for the exhibition, and at its core, is a recently discovered collection of rare French erotic engravings, collected in the 19th century Tsar Nicolas I, which has never been seen outside St Petersburg. The exhibition begins by examining the resurgence of interest in the ancient Roman and Greek god of erotic passion Cupid, or Eros, in 18th century French visual culture. It shows how his image was depicted, from paintings by Boucher on the theme of Cupid as an allegory of the arts, to an inkstand by the Sevres porcelain factory, with Cupid mischievously drumming on the inkwells. A highlight is the marble sculpture 'Menacing Cupid', by Etienne-Maurice Falconet, produced for Madame de Pompadour, which quickly became the most famous modern visual representation of Cupid, and was reproduced in many forms. Cupid's ever present influence upon different representations of love and seduction include not only idealised visions of love's triumph, such as Boucher's 'Pastoral Scene', but also representations of frustrated and thwarted love, as depicted in Watteau's 'Capricious Girl'. However, the exhibition also probes the ways in which the erotic in 18th century French art could easily slip over into the pornographic, the decent into the indecent. Works by Lancret, Nattier and Fragonard, including 'The Swing', explore the nature of disorderly passion, voyeurism and sexual licence, pushing at the boundaries of what was, and perhaps still is, deemed aesthetically acceptable. Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House, until 8th April.
Brian Eno: The Constellations (77 Million Paintings) is the latest work by the artist perhaps best known as an ambient music pioneer and as a founding member of Roxy Music. Eno has pursued several artistic ventures parallel to his music career, including visual art installations. 'The Constellations (77 Million Paintings)' creates 'visual music', using a series of 24 screens showing constantly evolving pictures. The 77 million digital light paintings are permutations generated from large format handmade slides, randomly combined by a computer, using specially developed software. Over 300 paintings, most of them scratched or inked onto slides, were digitised to create the 'raw materials' of the installation. The visuals are accompanied by a similarly randomly assembled track of interwoven sound, combining a melody with a variety of overlapping 'drips' of other sounds. The random nature of the installation allows each visitor a unique experience. It has been estimated that it would take 9,000 years to view all the possible combinations at the fastest speed available with current software. This is the first time the work has been seen in British gallery. Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, until 15th April.
Hogarth celebrates the great British 18th century artist whose work defined a period of British history more powerfully and enduringly than any other, with the most comprehensive exhibition in a generation. The display includes over 200 works, and showcases every aspect of Hogarth's career: paintings, ranging from elegant conversation pieces to salacious brothel scenes; drawings and sketches; and the numerous engraved works for which he is best known today. Highlights include the portraits 'David Garrick as Richard III', 'The Shrimp Girl', 'The Graham Children', 'Captain Thomas Coram', 'The Painter and his Pug' and 'Heads of Six of Hogarth's Servants'; the series 'A Rake's Progress', 'A Harlot's Progress', 'The Four Times of Day', 'Election', 'Marriage A-la-Mode', and 'Before' and 'After'; and the scenes 'Industry and Idleness', 'Gin Lane', 'Beer Street', 'The Stages of Cruelty', 'The March to Finchley' and 'O, the Roast Beef of Old England (The Gate of Calais)'. The exhibition examines Hogarth's life and work from his beginnings as a young engraver in the 1720s, through his rise to fame and fortune in the 1730s and 1740s, and on to the controversial years of the 1750s and early 1760s. It reveals that Hogarth's subjects and themes - the city, sexuality and behaviour, social integration, crime, political corruption, charity and patriotism, while being wholly Georgian, are entirely contemporary. Tate Britain until 29th April.
The Gospels Of Tsar Ivan Alexander provides an opportunity to view a triumph of late medieval manuscript art, commissioned in 1355 by Tsar Ivan Alexander, the ruler of Bulgaria, who presided over a period of a spiritual and artistic revival. The manuscript, which is preserved in near perfect condition, is a remarkable survival, and the most celebrated work of art produced in Bulgaria before it fell to the Turks. The Gospels' pages are lavishly illustrated with 367 fine illuminated miniatures, executed in colours and gold. The text of the Gospels was copied by a monk named Simeon, who, in a colophon (a note on the commissioning and making of the manuscript) states that the volume was begun in 1355, and completed in one year. Close examination of the 367 illustrations suggests that they are the work of a team of artists, probably at least three in number, and their style of painting, pictorial models and adherence to complete anonymity, place them within the wider tradition of Byzantine book illumination. The Slavonic text of the Gospels is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, a refined form of the script first developed in the middle of the 9th century by St Constantine-Cyril, who translated the Christian scriptures by modifying the letters of the Greek alphabet to suit the phonetic needs of the local language. The opening pages of the volume include portraits of the Tsar, and his family, and though represented in formal poses, they display a striking individuality. British Library, until 31st March.
Soviet Times: Russian Times 1917 - 2007 is a small but powerful exhibition of 40 photographs from the archives of Russian News and Information Agency RIA Novosti, covering the most controversial, unstable and difficult period of Russian history - the 90 years following the 1917 Russian Revolution. Using the turbulence of the Bolshevik Revolution as its starting point, the exhibition charts the changes this country has undergone over the last nine decades, from the industrialisation of the 1930s through the Second World War and Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and economic and social developments since then. Many of Russia's finest photographers have worked for the Agency or have their images in its archives. The exhibition has examples from Soviet era photographers such as Max Alpert and Arkady Shaiket, together with their more recent counterparts such as Dmitry Donskoi and Vladimir Vyatkin, who are the current employees of RIA Novosti. Among the examples of Vladimir Vyatkin's work, are the image of a federal reconnaissance unit in Chechnya, awarded a gold medal at the World Press Photo 2002, and the photograph Waterbirds, showing female swimmers practising technique, awarded a gold medal at Interpressphoto 2003. The images in this exhibition, many of which have rarely been seen before, give a glimpse of these moments in history, as experienced from the Russian perspective. Guildhall Art Gallery, London until 30th March.
Turner: The Rigi Watercolours brings together for the first time three of JMW Turner's greatest watercolour paintings: 'The Blue Rigi', 'The Dark Rigi' and 'The Red Rigi'. Turner's groundbreaking use of watercolour, which spanned his career, culminated in the early 1840s with a series of views of Swiss lakes and mountains. Chief among these are the three views of Mount Rigi as seen from Lake Lucerne. Each shows the mountain at a different time of day and is characterised by a defining colour or tone: dark, blue or red. 'The Blue Rigi' was Turner's first attempt at recording the moment before dawn when the sun just perceptibly begins to chase away the darkness of night. Using subtly modulated washes of blue, Turner recreates the stillness and wonder of this instant, anticipating by many years the unified tonal approach to image making of the Aesthetic Movement. Although Turner probably intended these watercolours to remain together as studies in contrasting atmospheric effects, they were sold to separate collectors. This exhibition reunites them, together with Turner's preparatory material for the Rigi series, including a sequence of sketchbooks and watercolour studies that highlight the many hours of observation and contemplation that lie behind the finished works, and reveal the artist's complete creative process. 'The Blie Rigi' was sold at auction last year to an overseas buyer, but the Art Fund has managed to raise matching funding, so that it can remain in Britain. Tate Britain until 24th March.