News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th August 2012


Superhuman explores the extraordinary ways people have sought to improve, adapt and enhance their body's performance. The exhibition brings together over 100 artworks, artefacts, videos, photographs, comics and medical objects, which record our seemingly limitless desire to be more than ourselves. From an ancient Egyptian prosthetic toe to the superheroes of sci-fi imagination and the futuristic promises of nano and biotechnology, the exhibition takes the long view of physical and chemical enhancement, and explores the science, myths and cultural reception of body extension. The show opens with a look at what constitutes an enhancement, from everyday objects such as glasses and false teeth to sex aids and iphones, and investigates the benefits and side effects of their use. There is a focus on the long history of prosthetics, both as enabling devices and covers for society's discomfort with missing body parts. Striking images and artefacts include a 19th century silver nose attached to spectacles for a women disfigured by syphilis; James Gillingham's studio photographs of Victorian women displaying their artificial limbs but concealing their faces; and gas powered artificial arms, developed in an attempt to 'normalise' children affected by thalidomide in the 1960s. Films include Matthew Barney's 'Cremaster', with model, athlete and double amputee Aimee Mullins performing roles involving beautiful and metamorphic prostheses, that grant surreally envisaged superpowers; and Dorothy Cross's 'Eyemaker', following an ocularist's creation of a glass eye. The history of adaptions made in pursuit of athletic advantage is illustrated by exhibits including the patents of Nike's early waffle sole trainers, the debate over blade legs, and a display about the rise of isotonic drinks. Wellcome Collection, London, until 16th October.

World Class: Masterpieces From The Devonshire Collection provides the first opportunity in over 100 years to see Old Master drawings from what is considered to be the greatest historic family collection outside the Royal Collection. The Devonshire Collection includes more than 3,000 works from both the Italian and Northern Schools. A selection of the finest drawings is on display in a purpose built space that not only provides the necessary environmental conditions for these masterpieces, but also recreates the effect of a historic collector's cabinet. The exhibition includes drawings by Brueghel the Elder, Durer, Leonardo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian and Van Dyck. To complement the drawings, Rembrandt's 'King Uzziah' hangs above a Florentine pietra dura cabinet, and a French Boulle marquetry cabinet housing ivories and Limoges enamels completes the display.

A Hundred Years Of House Parties celebrates three generations of entertaining from the golden age of the Edwardian era through to the present day. The exhibition shows the glamour of the glory days of country house weekends that often including members of the royal family, with grand dining, theatricals, society parties and shoots, but it also looks at life below stairs, revealing how a family Christmas with over 100 guests was organised by the cooks, housekeepers, secretaries, porters and footmen.

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, World Class: Masterpieces From The Devonshire Collection until 9th November ~ A Hundred Years Of House Parties until 23rd December.

Andy Warhol: The Portfolios features some of the American master of Pop Art's most iconic print portfolios, as well as lesser known sets. Andy Warhol was always a printmaker - the works that are generally called paintings were made using silkscreen techniques from commercial printing, but produced as one-offs on canvas, rather than multiple editions of images on paper. From 1967 onwards Warhol began to create the 'portfolios' - groups of 10 works produced in editions of 100 to 250. This exhibition is a selection from those series, alongside one-off trial prints made while searching for definitive colour variations. Many reprise famous images, such as the Campbells soup cans and Flowers, but in others Warhol experiments with age old artistic genres, such as still life and landscape. The exhibition comprises 80 works from 13 portfolios, made from the early 1960s through to the mid 1980s. Iconic portraits of Muhammad Ali, Marilyn Monroe, self portraits, and heroic and mythical figures like Superman and Uncle Sam, hang amongst surprises like 1979's 'Space Fruit: Still Lifes', 1980's 'Jews of the 20th century' and 1981's 'Myths'. These dazzlingly decorative prints, hung densely packed like a Pop Rococo 'print room', create a psychedelic feast of colour and image. Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Dulwich, London SE21, until 16th September.


William Morris Gallery has reopened following a £10m restoration of the house and gardens. The gallery is located in the house where William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, supporter of the Pre-Raphaelites, socialist pioneer, designer, craftsman and visionary, was born, and its collection represents all aspects of his work. The 18th century, Grade II* listed building has been completely refurbished, revealing many of the original Georgian features for the first time. The gardens have also been restored using design and planting inspired by Morris and plans of the garden from the 18th century. The transformation provides three new galleries offering the chance for previously unseen works to be displayed, a library, research and education centre and a new Georgian orangery-inspired extension housing a tearoom and balcony overlooking the gardens. Almost 600 objects are now on display across 12 galleries, exploring different aspects of Morris's life. These include personal items such as the satchel in which he always carried his sketchings, essays and political pamphlets; wallpaper designs encompassing his first ever and the one designed for St James's Palace; some of the firm's earliest tiles, such as the 'Beauty and the Beast' panel; and stained glass designs that made the firm's name; plus designs, paintings and furniture by the artists and craftspeople Morris surrounded himself with, including works by Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and Phillip Webb. The new temporary exhibition gallery features Grayson Perry's large 'Walthamstow Tapestry', which explores the emotional resonance of brand names in our lives and our quasi-religious relationship to consumerism. William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow, London E17, continuing.

Expanding Horizons: Giovanni Battista Lusieri And The Panoramic Landscape features the work of one of the most gifted landscape watercolourists of all time. This is the first solo exhibition ever to be devoted to Giovanni Battista Lusieri, an artist who was widely acclaimed in his lifetime but whose work has been undeservedly overlooked in the last 200 years. Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars, much of Lusieri's life story reads like a film script. He was employed by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, was closely involved with the removal of the Elgin Marbles from Greece to Britain, and tragically, a large proportion of his later work was destroyed at sea on the journey back from Athens after his death, leaving his reputation to descend into obscurity. One of very few Italian artists of this period to adopt watercolour as his favoured medium, Lusieri often worked on an ambitious scale, combining a broad, panoramic vision, an uncanny ability to capture brilliant Mediterranean light and a meticulous, almost photographic attention to detail. This exhibition brings together about 85 watercolours and drawings, plus his only two known works in oil. Lusieri worked principally as a painter of topographical views and close-up views of ancient monuments. He was passionately dedicated to working directly from nature, and unlike most of his contemporaries who worked in watercolour, insisted wherever possible on colouring his drawings outside, on the spot. The exhibition includes Lusieri's single most ambitious watercolour, the 9ft wide 'Bay of Naples from Palazzo Sessa', and some of his numerous views of Vesuvius erupting by moonlight, which were amongst his most popular works. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, until 28th October.

The Nazi Games: Politics, The Media And The Body is a timely reminder of how governments have used Olympic Games for propaganda purposes, examining the most successful - and infamous - example. The 1936 Olympic Games left a deep impression on history, including astounding innovations, from the athletes' village and torch relay, which were adopted permanently by the Olympic organisation, to live broadcasts of events, from slow-motion replays of athletes to overwhelming displays of political power. The Nazis exploited the mass media to create images of the body that pushed its message of racial purity and superiority. Drawing on an extensive collection of propaganda, including pamphlets, photographs and illustrated books, the exhibition exposes the astonishing skill of the Nazis as manipulators of public opinion, while also highlighting the stories of people who resisted Nazi views of the ideal sporting body. Among the exhibits are dramatic stills by Leni Riefenstahl; an American pamphlet called 'Preserve the Olympic Ideal', which made the case against American participation; and a range of bona fide souvenirs designed to cash in on the Games, often incorporating Nazi imagery. There is also an exhibit about a German refugee doctor at Stoke Mandeville hospital who set up a sporting contest that eventually became the Paralympics. The Wiener Library, 29 Russell Square, London WC1, until 3rd October.

Another London: International Photographers Capture City Life 1930 - 1980 explores the capital city through the eyes of some of the greatest names in international photography. In the years between 1930 and 1980, some of the best known photographers from around the world came to London to make work about the city and its communities. Bringing together 180 classic photographs, this exhibition highlights the vibrancy of the city as a dynamic metropolis, richly diverse and full of contrast. For these artists London was a foreign city, which they either visited briefly or settled in permanently, and they recorded and represented it in their own unique style and distinctive ways. Emblems of Britishness that might have been familiar to visitors such as pearly kings, red buses and bowler hats are documented alongside the urban poor surviving life in the city as pavement artists, beggars and buskers, often captured in stunning compositions. These pictures, showing London streets and public places as they were during those years, with Norland nannies pushing Silver Cross prams in Hyde Park, Eliza Dolittles selling flowers in Piccadilly Circus, advertisements for products that have long since disappeared, and streets shrouded in fog and smog, reveal the capital as almost a foreign country to us today. The exhibition features striking images from renowned photographers including Bill Brandt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eve Arnold, Robert Frank, Al Vandenberg, Wolfgang Suschitzky, Dora Maar, Bruce Davidson, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Irving Penn and many more. Tate Britain until 26th September.

John Piper - The Gyselynck Collection features works in a variety of media by one of Britain's most influential modernist artists. The exhibition comprises the collection of over 30 John Piper works acquired by collector Michael Gyselynk, and is the first time the works have been displayed together in public. It provides a unique opportunity to view work spanning Piper's entire career across his different mediums, and represents many aspects of his artistic output, including abstract landscape compositions, topographical and figurative paintings, collage and ceramics. During his career Piper developed a unique style, fusing fluidity of line with elemental forms and perfectly balanced use of colour to communicate the spirit of a place, the feel of a body or the essence of a landscape. Among the highlights are 'Composition', one of a few pure abstracts by Piper painted during a period when he was experimenting with abstraction; 'Reclining Nude', a painted ceramic dish produced by Fulham Pottery, one of eight beach girl designs where the figure has been formed using the minimum of line made from a piece of finely rolled clay laid on a roughly shaped platter; and 'Autumn Flowers', a large and vibrant example of Piper's expressive work from towards the end of his life, when he could no longer travel far and often painted the flowers from his garden. River & Rowing Museum, Henley, until 8th October.

Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker: 850 Years Of London Livery Company Treasures features objects from the rare to the curious, the ancient to the modern. The exhibition offers an opportunity to see items from the collections of London's Livery Companies, the 108 associations in the City of London responsible for regulation of their trades, not usually on view to the public. Visitors can marvel at the splendour of medieval manuscripts and wonder at the rituals of livery company life, as the objects reveal the stories behind some of the world's oldest crafts and trades. Highlights include the oldest recorded livery charter, granted to the Weavers' Company in 1155 by Henry II; a portrait of Henry VIII and the Barber Surgeons by Hans Holbein the Younger; a surgeon's 'pop-up' textbook 'A survey of the Microcosme: or, the anatomy of the bodies of Man and Woman' from 1702; the only known pair of Scarlett-type temple spectacles in the world, dating from around 1730; 'Plocacosmos: or, the whole art of hairdressing', which includes meticulous engravings of the exuberant hairstyles of the late 18th century; The Weoley Cup, a very rare tooled, enameled and gilt Venetian goblet dating from around 1500; a Georgian Fishmonger's shop sign, made from a turtle shell with a coat of arms painted on it; and the left-hand coronation gloves of both Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II. Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, EC2 until 23rd September.


Presence: The Art Of Portrait Sculpture brings together striking sculpted portraits from the ancient world to the modern day to explore their often troubling power. The exhibition considers the ways in which sculptors have exploited this potency to make the absent present or the dead seem alive, from the mummy masks of ancient Egypt to the extraordinary death mask of the painter Thomas Lawrence, cast with the sheet and pillow of his death bed. The display embraces heads from Ancient Greece and Rome, 18th century masterpieces, such as Joseph Wilton's bust of the Earl of Chesterfield, works by some of the 20th century's greatest sculptors, including Degas, Giacometti and Brancusi, the waxwork of Henry Moore once at Madame Tussauds, and sculptures by major contemporary artists such as Don Brown, Daphne Wright and Marc Quinn. It explores questions of scale and colour through miniature portraits in wax and ivory and Ron Mueck's monumental Self Portrait Mask II. Above all, it explores the sense of presence behind the portrait sculpture which gives it its power to arrest and disturb. Perhaps the most moving of all the works in the show is the ceramic portrait of the small dead girl, Lydia Dwight, cast by her father in the white glazed stoneware technique that he had invented. Striking pairings include Brancusi's abstracted and eyeless Danaide alongside a late Giacometti bust of his brother Diego, in which his staring head seems to exemplify Giacometti's concentration on the sitter's gaze. At the heart of these pairings are two exceptional antique heads, a rare Greek bronze head, probably of a charioteer, from about 300BC, and the head of a North African carved in green siltstone in the 1st century BC. Holburne Museum, Bath, until 2nd September.

Royal River: Power, Pageantry And The Thames brings to life the history of the Thames as Britain's royal river and London's 'grandest street'. The exhibition evokes the sights, sounds and even the smells of half a millennium of royal river pageantry and popular celebration, and shows how the river pageants were used to celebrate the coronation and inauguration of Tudor and Stuart Queens. For hundreds of years the Thames has been a unique site for royal, national and civic ceremony and celebration. Providing a larger stage than any street on land, the river has seen the pomp of spectacular coronations, the music and fireworks of extravagant processions, and the bustle of festive frost fairs, where rich and poor mingled on its frozen surface. A wealth of fascinating objects take visitors from Anne Boleyn's coronation procession to Lord Nelson's funeral, from the gilded magnificence of the Lord Mayor's pageant to the noxious horror of the 'Great Stink', and from the great riverside seats of regal power to the floating palaces of the royal yachts. Among the nearly 400 paintings, manuscripts and beautiful artefacts are rarely seen uniforms, silver and barge decorations from the City's many livery companies, an elaborate silver microscope made for George III and the 16th century Pearl Sword, which to this day the monarch must touch upon entering the City of London. Other highlights include the oldest known copy of Handel's Water Music, Bazalgette's original contract drawings for the construction of the Thames embankment, Anne Boleyn's personal music book, the magnificent stern carvings from the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert III, and a remarkable collection of paintings by Canaletto. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until 2nd September.

The English Prize: The Capture Of The Westmorland, An Episode Of The Grand Tour is a vivid recreation of the Grand Tour and events on the high seas of 18th century Europe. The story of the Westmorland, an armed merchant ship sailing from Livorno to London in January 1779, is one of colourful 18th century personalities and modern detective work. Consigned to the ship, by a cast of characters that included artists, aristocrats and dealers, was a precious cargo of art and antiquities, books, and luxury goods, including 32 wheels of Parmesan cheese. The Westmorland was captured by two French warships on 7th January and declared a 'prize of war'. The majority of the cargo was acquired by King Carlos III of Spain, who presented many of the items to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, while one painting ended up as far away as St Petersburg. Following an extraordinary research project begun in the 1990s in the archives in Madrid, scholars have been able to trace the history and learn the fate of many of the items on board the ship. The exhibition presents over 120 objects that were on the Westmorland when it was captured, including portraits of two of the Grand Tourists by Pompeo Batoni; a group of watercolours by a young John Robert Cozens; and portrait busts by Irish sculptor Christopher Hewetson. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 27th August.