Private View held by Richard Andrews
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.
Biba And Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki celebrates the legendary 1960s store, the clothes, the lifestyle and the far reaching influence of the iconic brand. In addition to the Biba 'lifestyle', the exhibition also looks at the life and times of the charismatic and talented woman behind the Biba label, Barbara Hulanicki, including her earlier career in fashion illustration, and her later achievements in interior design and architecture. With its cutting edge yet affordable fashion, Barbara Hulanicki's Biba store and label transformed the High Street shopping experience in the 1960s and 70s. Young working women shopped alongside models and celebrities, including Cathy McGowan, Twiggy, Cher and the Rolling Stones. Art Deco, Victorian and Hollywood glamour all combined in striking, romantic and sensual designs. Biba began as a tiny boutique in Church Street in Kensington that opened in 1964, but eventually overreached itself by taking over the former Derry and Toms department store, 9 times the size of the original, with Egyptian columns, Edwardian fashion styles, Victoriana and marble floors - a wonderland that attempted to embrace an entire lifestyle, even down to cans of baked beans, generating 100,000 visitors a week (although many only came to stand and stare). The exhibition tells the extraordinary story through illustrations, film, fashion, music, photography, ephemera and the memories and reminiscences of those who shared the experience. Brighton Museum & Art Gallery until 14th April.
Peter Lely: A Lyrical Vision features a remarkable but forgotten group of large-scale narrative paintings produced in the 1640s and 1650s by England's leading painter of the time. Peter Lely was Charles II's Principal Painter and the outstanding artistic figure of Restoration England. Since the 17th century, he has been celebrated for his flattering pictures of the great and the beautiful of Charles II's court. However, when Lely arrived in England from Holland in the early 1640s, he devoted himself to paintings inspired by classical mythology, the Bible or contemporary literature. Often depicting a sensuous pastoral world of shepherds, nymphs and musicians in idyllic landscapes, these ambitious pictures are all the more extraordinary for having been painted during the turmoil of the English Civil War and its aftermath. Among the highlights of the exhibition are 'The Concert', featuring a self-portrait of the artist as the striking viol player who holds the picture aesthetically and thematically together, 'Nymphs by a Fountain', 'The Rape of Europa', 'Cimon and Iphigenia', 'Two Children Singing' and 'A Boy as a Shepherd'. Lely was an enthusiastic collector, and by the end of his life had amassed one of England's richest collections of 16th and 17th century Italian paintings and drawings, several examples of which are included in the exhibition. Courtauld Gallery, London, until 13th January.
Shoot! Existential Photography traces the history of a curious side-show that appeared at fairgrounds in the period following World War I: the photographic shooting gallery. If the customer hit the bullseye, he or she triggered a camera, winning a snapshot of themselves in the act of shooting. The metaphorical charge of the activity is obvious - upon looking at their portrait the shooter sees the gun, still trained in their hands a moment after its discharge, aimed at themselves. The idea fascinated many artists and intellectuals in its heyday, including existentialist French philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, surrealist Man Ray and photographers Robert Frank, Henri Cartier- Bresson and Brassai among others. Showcasing vernacular and vintage images alongside contemporary pieces, the exhibition traces the history of this image making process from its days as a popular sideshow to its re-appropriation by artists. It includes numerous analogies between taking photographs and shooting, and includes works by contemporary artists such as Sylvia Ballhause, Agnes Geoffray, Jean-Francois Lecourt, Steven Pippin, Emilie Pitoiset, Niki de Saint Phalle and Patrick Zachmann. Among the highlights are Erik Kessels's celebration of one amateur shooter, Ria van Dijk, who took portraits of herself in this way every year from 1936, with 60 of her images; Rudolf Steiner's series 'Pictures of me, shooting myself into a picture', in which the bullet hole serves as the aperture for a pinhole camera, creating an image upon impact; and the video-sound installation 'Crossfire' by Christian Marclay, a sampling from Hollywood films that edits together those moments in which the actors on the screen begin to take aim at the movie theatre audience. The Photographer's Gallery, 16 - 18 Ramillies Street, London W1, until 6th January.
The First Cut features work by contemporary artists who radically rethink the possibilities of working with paper, and take it beyond its natural boundaries. By transforming books and magazines, maps and currency, using origami, cutouts, silhouettes, creating dresses, animations, sculptures and installations, the 31 international artists in this exhibition demonstrate the huge potential and power of such a humble and fragile material, transforming it into fantastical works of art. Giant sculptures inspired by far away galaxies spiral from the wall; there is a walk-through forest of paper trees; miniature worlds explode from vintage staple boxes and emerge from the page of a book; flocks of birds and butterflies cut from maps appear alongside artworks that feature dark fairytale imagery; guns and grenades are fashioned from paper currency; and sinister silhouettes comment on social, political and economic issues. Meanwhile, fragile paper dresses and shoes, as well as sculptural dresses fashioned out of maps and money respond to the historical costume displays and grandeur of their Georgian setting. The delicacy and vulnerability of their sculptural form belies the gravity of the issues they confront, including ecology, geo-politics, mapping and trade, as well as identity, the body and memory. Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Gallery of Costume until 27th January.
Cotman In Normandy looks at the central chapter of the career of the celebrated 19th century English watercolourist. For most of the 19th century John Sell Cotman was the most widely admired English watercolourist, surpassing even JMW Turner in popularity. Between 1817 and 1820 Cotman made 3 tours of Normandy, where he was shocked by the destruction wrought on the region's religious buildings by the iconoclasts of the French Revolution. He painted and drew structures that survived with a sharpened sense of their vulnerability. In 1822 Cotman published two monumental folio volumes, Ancient Architecture of Normandy, and this exhibition aims to put this work in the broader context of his lifelong engagement with buildings, moving on from the general perception that this period was a distraction from Cotman's celebrated lyrical watercolours. The exhibition brings together around 100 of Cotman's drawings, watercolours and prints, allowing comparison of his Normandy work against the background of his earlier architectural work, and presents a further 20 studies by other artists, including Turner, Samuel Prout and Henry Edridge, who also visited Normandy. Among the highlights of Cotman's works are 'Church of St Jacques at Dieppe, the West Front', 'An Old House in the Rue St Jean', 'Cathedral Church of Notre Dame at Rouen', 'A Ruined House', 'Alencon', 'Tower in Normandy', 'Dieppe Harbour' and two paintings of the town of Domfront, which have not been shown together since 1824. Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Dulwich, London SE21, until 13th January.
Seduced By Art: Photography Past And Present explores the relationship between historical painting, early photography of the mid 19th century, and work being done by photographers today. The exhibition looks at how photographers use fine art traditions, including Old Master painting, to explore the possibilities of their art. Rather than being a general survey, the show draws attention to one particular strand of photography's history, in major early works by the greatest British and French practitioners, alongside photographs by an international array of contemporary artists. The exhibition includes new photography and video specially commissioned for the show and on public display for the first time, plus works rarely seen in Britain. Paintings and early and contemporary photographs are presented together according to traditional genres such as portraiture, still life and landscape. These include provocative religious imagery by 19th century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and late 20th century artist Helen Chadwick; spectacular battlefield tableaux by Emile-Jean-Horace Vernet from 1821 and Luc Delahaye's work of 2001; Martin Parr's satire of class aspiration 'Signs of the Times' displayed alongside Thomas Gainsborough's 'Mr and Mrs Andrews'; photographs by Craigie Horsfield and the Victorian artist David Wilkie Wynfield showing the Baroque influence of Anthony van Dyck; painted and photographed nudes with controversial works by early photographers such as Oscar Gustav Rejlander and contemporary practitioners like Richard Learoyd; and landscapes by the early French photographer Gustave Le Gray and contemporary artists such as Jem Southam and Richard Billingham, capped by a huge eight part photogravure by Tacita Dean. In addition, three 'interventions' of contemporary photographs by Richard Billingham, Craigie Horsfield and Richard Learoyd are displayed in the permanent collection, juxtaposed with 19th century paintings by Constable, Degas and Ingres. National Gallery until 30th January.
Beyond Bagpuss - An Artist's Journey is a retrospective of the work of the artist and illustrator Linda Birch. The exhibition features work from Birch's early days as illustrator of the children's characters Pogle's Wood, Bagpuss and The Clangers, working with the legendary animators Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate, through her long career as painter, teacher and writer. Birch has illustrated some 150 books, including Conker by Michael Morpurgo, and Who Shot Queen Victoria, by Horrible Histories author Terry Deart. Altogether the exhibition features some 40 works, including illustrations from Bagpuss, along with artwork from the BBC's Jackanory series, such as Simon And The Witch, photographs, sketchbooks and new paintings of landscapes, wild flowers and animals, both farm and domestic, plus a video of her at work, outlining her 40 year career. Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, until 17th February.
Ritual And Revelry: The Art Of Drinking In Asia reveals the importance of water, alcohol and tea in cultures across Asia over the past 2,500 years. From Bronze Age China to modern South Asia, liquids have played an important role in both religious and secular spheres, though the boundaries between them are often fluid. The exhibition celebrates the ritual and social uses of liquids including sake (rice wine), toddy, water and the mighty Asian drink that has conquered the world - tea. The importance of tea is illustrated through many exceptional objects, including an exquisite silver tea set from Bhuj in Western India, where the handles have been shaped into bamboo stems, and a Japanese brazier shaped like a demon's face, pronouncing judgment on those around it. Tea became popular among Buddhist monks in the mountainous areas of southern China where conditions were good for cultivation. From the monasteries tea drinking then spread to the educated elite and on to the rest of society. Before the advent of steeped tea (leaves brewed in hot water) in the 15th century, large bowls such the black-glazed wares from the Jian kilns in northern Fujian were used, as seen in this display. The exhibition features vessels for drinking, pouring and performing religious offerings, as well as depictions showing their use in paintings and prints, covering their significance in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, as well as traditional Chinese and Japanese religious practices. The social side of liquids is revealed in sections on revelry and intoxication. These include stories of consumption of sake in the pleasure districts of Tokyo, alcohol in the Mughal courts of India and drinking games in China. The exhibition also uncovers the spread of tea across Asia, its use in the iconic Japanese tea ceremony and how butter tea is drunk in Tibet. British Museum until 6th January.
Shakespeare: Staging The World explores the world and works of the world's greatest playwright. The exhibition provides a new insight into the emerging role of London as a world city 400 years ago, interpreted through the perspective of Shakespeare's plays. One of the key innovations of the period was the birth of the modern professional theatre: purpose-built public playhouses and professional playwrights were a new phenomenon, with the most successful company being the company at the Globe who worked alongside their house dramatist, William Shakespeare. The exhibition shows how the playhouse informed, persuaded and provoked thought on the issues of the day; how it shaped national identity, first English, then British; and how it opened a window on the wider world, from Italy to Africa to America, as London's global contacts were expanding through international trade, colonisation and diplomacy. The exhibition features some 190 objects, from great paintings, rare manuscripts, maps, prints, drawings, arms and armour, to modest, everyday items of the time, including the Ides of March coin, the gold aureus commissioned by Brutus shortly after the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC; a portrait of Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud ben Mohammed Anoun, Moroccan Ambassador to Queen Elizabeth I, who may have informed the character of Othello; and items excavated from the sites of the Globe and Rose theatres, such as a sucket fork for sweetmeats and the skull of a bear. British Museum until 25th November.
Crowns And Ducats: Shakespeare's Money And Medals looks at the role of coins and medals in Shakespeare's works and his world. Shakespeare's plays have many references to money. He expected his audience to recognise the numerous different coins that he mentioned and pick up messages about value, wealth and character. As well as the coins themselves, Shakespeare also drew on the language of reckoning and accounting, and of weighing and measuring the quality of money, often using this metaphorically to talk about people's characters. In addition to looking at the plays, the display features real objects that bring to life the world as it was around 400 years ago. Coins, medals and prints show that Shakespeare lived in a time of mass produced images. From the 18th century onwards, Shakespeare's portrait and his plays have become widely familiar both nationally and internationally. The display also explores this phenomenon through its depiction on medals, coins, banknotes and credit cards. From ducats, dollars and doits to angels, crowns and groats, the display shows how and why Shakespeare used coins to make the wider world seem familiar and the past and remote accessible to an English audience at some of the first purpose made English theatres. British Museum until 25th November.
Alan Turing And Life's Enigma looks at the code breaker and computer pioneer's later work in the field of biology. From 1948 until his death in 1954, at a time when people knew very little about genetics or DNA, Alan Turing used an early Ferranti Mark 1 computer to study a subject known as morphogenesis. He was trying to crack how a soup of cells and chemicals could transform itself and grow into complex natural shape. In an article published in 1952, 'The chemical basis of morphogenesis', where he proposed a reaction-diffusion model of spatial pattern formation, Turing suggested that everything from the spots and stripes on animals to the arrangement of pine cones and flowers could be explained by the interactions between two chemicals. He was one of the first people to propose a formal model that could explain the self-organisation phenomena present in a wide variety of biological systems, and he did so with an impressive clarity of thought. This exhibition includes Turing's own notes together with slides, drawings, diagrams and other objects and materials involved in his research. The Manchester Museum until 18th November.