Private View held by Richard Andrews
Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963 - 2010 is a retrospective of the work of one of the most experimental artists in the latter part of the 20th century. The exhibition is the first to fully encompass the enormously varied range of materials with which Sigmar Polke worked. Polke explored ideas of contamination and transformation, working with antiquated and sometimes poisonous pigments, extracting dye from boiled snails, and using materials as varied as gold leaf, meteorite powder, bubble wrap, potatoes and soot. Photographs were made by exposing the paper to uranium, while paintings were created by brushing photosensitive chemicals onto canvas. The exhibition includes several films where Polke played with double-exposure, just as paintings would have layers of transparent imagery. In the 1960s, while still a student, he created sharp critiques of the growing consumer society of West Germany, transcribing by hand the cheaply printed images he found in mass media to create such works as 'Girlfriends'. Political and social commentary was a constant thread throughout Polke's work, from 'The Sausage Eater' to 'Police Pig'. His irreverent attitude and ironic humour was a product of the cynicism with which he viewed all forms of authority, and he often confronted the remnants of National Socialism in his imagery, for instance in his haunting series of 'Watch Towers' from the mid 1980s, which evoke the structures on the perimeters of concentration camps. Polke became even more experimental towards the end of his career, pushing the boundaries between different media. The exhibition shows how he used photocopiers to make new distorted compositions, while the 'Lens Paintings' attempt to emulate holograms in their use of semi-transparent layers of materials. Tate Modern until 8th February.
Ordinary Beauty: The Photography Of Edwin Smith is a retrospective of one of Britain's foremost 20th century photographers. Edwin Smith captured the essence of the everyday in the people, places, landscapes and buildings that he photographed. His images connote a particular kind of Britishness, one which is eccentric and often nostalgic, and his work was, in part, a plea on behalf of Britain's architectural heritage. This exhibition features over 100 images from his collection of over 60,000 negatives and 20,000 prints, from the 1930s to the 1960s. Smith was highly sought-after by publishers, and in the 1950s he was commissioned by Thames & Hudson for a series of books, among them 'English Parish Churches', 'English Cottages & Farmhouses', 'Scotland', 'England' and 'The Living City: A New View of the City of London'. His work also featured in Vogue, Shell Guides and numerous other publications to illustrate features and books on subjects varying from 'Great Houses of Europe' to 'The Wonders of Italy'. From urban scenes documenting British social history to evocative landscape images and atmospheric interiors, the images displayed reveal the genius and breadth of his work. Alongside his images of Britain the exhibition shows photographs taken on his travels to Europe as well as his published books and photographic equipment. Specially filmed contributions ranging from Alan Bennett to broadcaster Gillian Darley offer personal perspectives of Smith's work. RIBA Architecture Gallery, 66 Portland Place, London W1.
Designing The 20th Century: Life And Work Of Abram Games celebrates the work of one of the most important and influential figures of 20th century graphic design. The exhibition of over 100 original posters, paintings, preparatory sketches, archive objects and photographs explores Abram Games's immigrant roots, his Jewish background and his enormous contribution to British design. Games started his career as a freelance artist, producing posters for clients such as London Transport, before becoming an official war poster artist during the Second World War, when he designed 100 posters. His iconic works for campaigns such as ATS recruitment and wartime safety used simple and often stark images and clear typography to convey strong messages, and to create images that remain powerful today. Games's post-war career was hugely successful, designing posters and emblems for an array of important British institutions such as the BBC, commercial companies including the Financial Times, Shell and Guinness, charities, the Olympic Games, the United Nations and the logo for the Festival of Britain. As well as graphics, Games also worked in industrial design, including a coffee maker and a copying machine for the manufacturers Gestetner. Jewish Museum, Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert St, London NW1, until 4th January.
Terror And Wonder: The Gothic Imagination offers a glimpse of the fascinating and mysterious world of the terrifying and the macabre. Marking 250 years since Horace Walpole's 'The Castle of Otranto' caused a sensation and inspired the new genre, the exhibition celebrates the many literary masterpieces produced in Britain ever since, as well as modern interpretations of the Gothic in popular culture today. Rare objects including posters, books, film and even a vampire-slaying kit, reveal the dark shadow the Gothic imagination has cast across film, art, music, fashion, architecture and our daily lives. The exhibition features the original manuscripts and rare and personal editions of such iconic Gothic works as Bram Stoker's 'Dracula', Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' and Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde', as well as the work of contemporary writers influenced by the genre, including Angela Carter, Mervyn Peake, Clive Barker and Sarah Waters. Highlights also include the dark and Gothic-inspired artworks of influential painters, including Henry Fuseli, William Blake and Philip James de Loutherbourg, contrasted against modern art and photography, costumes and movies, from the Chapman Brothers to Stanley Kubrick. Tracing Gothic fiction's journey, the exhibition explores how this literature has been an important reflection of society's attitudes, angst and fears. From the dark days of the French Revolution, when writers pushed boundaries with shocking novels such as 'The Monk', to the explosion of Gothic in the 20th century and its influence on the art and culture we enjoy today, the display questions the continuing fascination with the dark and the monstrous. The British Library until 20th January.
Sense And Sensuality: Art Nouveau 1890 - 1914 explores the drama and spectacle of contemporary life at the turn of the 20th century. The show embraces the at times risque sensuality of Art Nouveau, featuring a wide range of works from sculpture, graphics and books, to ceramics, glass and furniture. Early examples include Felix Vallotton's original poster 'L'Art Nouveau', the first public presentation of the name; and Aubrey Vincent Beardsley's 'Salome' prints, which many believe to be the first true works in the style. Masterpieces by Alphonse Mucha, Maurice Bouval, Theophile Alexandre Steinlen, Francois- Raoul Larche, Paul Francois Berthoud, Jean-Joseph Carries and others, make this an exceptional display of fin de siecle art and design. The period 1890 to 1914, which saw the rise and fall of Art Nouveau, has often been depicted as an age that represented the end of many things, but it was also an age of beginnings. It was a turbulent time: millions of people migrated to rapidly growing cities, becoming urban dwellers in a modernised environment. This exhibition explores this intense emotional maelstrom, focusing on personal and sexual liberation, women and the rise of feminism, youth revolution, the questioning of organised religion, eroticism and an exploration of mythology, novel art forms, psychology and dreams, narcotics and the concept of mass manufactured art. Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts, Norwich, until 14th December.
Anselm Kiefer is the first major British retrospective of the work of one of the most important German artists of the latter part of the 20th century. The exhibition presents the epic scale of Anselm Kiefer's artwork and the breadth of media he has used throughout his 40 year career, including painting, sculpture, photography and installation. Kiefer has created a number of pieces specifically for this exhibition, showcasing his continued interest in seeking new challenges and producing ever more ambitious works. Kiefer's fascination with history and the work of past masters permeates his subject matter. From mythology to the Old and New testaments, Kabbalah, alchemy, philosophy and the poetry of Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann, Kiefer's work wrestles with the darkness of German history and considers the complex relationship between art and spirituality. His technical use of materials such as clay, ash, earth, lead, fabric and dried flowers amongst others, adds further symbolism and depth to his work. Highlights include photographs and paintings from the controversial 'Occupations' and 'Heroic Symbols' series recording Kiefer's re-enactment of the Nazi salute in locations across Europe, made in the belief that one must confront rather than supress the experiences of history; paintings from his 'Attic' series including 'Father, Son and the Holy Ghost' and 'Notung', depicting renderings of wooden interior spaces based on the studio space he was occupying in Walldurn-Hornbach; and monumental architectural paintings, such as 'To the Unknown Painter', reflecting on the neo-classicist buildings of Hitler's architect Albert Speer. The exhibition considers the key themes and the diverse, personal iconography that Kiefer has created in his work and the influence of place on his pieces. Royal Academy until 14th December.
Constable: The Making Of A Master explores the sources, techniques and legacy of the work of one of Britain's best loved artists, revealing the hidden stories behind the creation of some of his most well known paintings. The exhibition juxtaposes John Constable's work with the art of 17th century masters of the classical landscape whose compositional ideas and formal values he revered. The display brings together over 150 works, comprising oil sketches, drawings, watercolours and engravings, including such celebrated works as 'The Hay Wain', 'The Cornfield', 'Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows' and 'The Leaping Horse', plus oil sketches Constable painted outdoors directly from nature, which are unequalled in capturing transient effects of light and atmosphere. Constable was schooled in the old masters, meticulously copying their work and reflecting on their compositions in his individual style. On display are paintings including 'Moonlight Landscape' by Rubens and 'Landscape with a Pool' by Gainsborough, which inspired his early work. Constable made a number of close copies of the old masters, and Claude's 'Landscape with a Goatherd and Goats' and Ruisdael's 'Windmills near Haarlem', as well as etchings and drawings by Herman van Swanevelt and Alexander Cozens, are displayed alongside Constable's direct copies, many of which are brought together for the first time since they were produced almost 200 years ago. In the last decade of his life Constable and the engraver David Lucas collaborated on a series of mezzotints after his paintings, and a group of these prints are shown together with the original oil sketches on which they were based. Victoria & Albert Museum until 11th January.
Buddha's Word: The Life Of Books In Tibet And Beyond brings together some of the world's oldest Buddhist manuscripts and art from around the world. The exhibition follows the journey of Buddha's words in three different spaces. In the first, a Himalayan Buddhist Altar demonstrates an exploration of the text as sacred object, as a relic of the Buddha. The second shows how Tibetan books are made and analysed, investigating the long history of printing in Tibet and the recent discoveries made by scientists and scholars about the pigments used. The final section traces the journeys taken by Buddha's word from India, across Asia, to places such as Sri Lanka and Japan, Mongolia and Taiwan, taking different material forms in different places. Many of the artefacts, statues, prints and manuscripts in the exhibition have never been on public display before. These include some of the oldest illuminated Buddhist manuscripts dating back to the 11th century, as well as specimens of skillfully illuminated wooden covers; a quartet of scroll paintings brought back from the infamous Younghusband Expedition; and a gift from the 13th Dalai Lama. This exhibition tells the story of the transformation of Buddha's words, from palmleaf, to paper, to digital dharma. It focuses on books, not just as objects of learning and study, but as relics of the Buddha, and sacred objects in their own right. Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Downing Street, Cambridge, until 17th January.
The Art Of The Brick endeavors to turn the humble LEGO building brick into works of art. Nathan Sawaya's exhibition is created with millions of LEGO building blocks and is unique in its scope, with 80 sculptures ranging from new conceptual pieces to three dimensional replicas of iconic classical artworks. The results look rather like pixilated images of the real things. Highlights range from a full size man ripping his chest open with his insides spilling out and a semi submerged swimmer, through a 7ft pencil, a hand reaching out from a computer screen to hit the keyboard and a 20ft dinosaur, to Michaelangelo's David, the Venus de Milo, the Creation of Adam, taken from the Sistine Chapel, Rodan's Thinker and Edvard Munch's The Scream. Incidentally, that's 16,349 bricks for David, 18,483 for Venus, 1,948 for Adam, 4,332 for the Thinker and 3,991 for The Scream. Whether this can actually be described as art (and whether Sawaya is actually an artist or simply a snake oil salesman) is up to the viewer. The display brings to mind Gunther von Hagens's Body Worlds, although it is slightly less alarming. To paraphrase Johnson, it may not be art done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all. Old Truman Brewery, Loading Bay, Ely's Yard, 15 Hanbury Street, London E1, until 4th January.
Body & Void: Echoes Of Moore In Contemporary Art features works by some of the most recognised contemporary artists together with those of one of Britain's greatest 20th century artists. This is the first exhibition to look at how Henry Moore's sculptural vocabulary has been explored and reinterpreted by contemporary artists, placing their works alongside some of Moore's key works. Outdoor works include large-scale sculptures by Rachel Whiteread, Tony Cragg and Thomas Schutte, alongside Moore's 'Reclining Figure: External Form', together with new works by Richard Deacon and Richard Long produced specifically for the exhibition. In the galleries, pieces by Joseph Beuys, Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, Sarah Lucas and Rachel Whiteread, are shown alongside Moore's 'Stringed Mother and Child', 'Reclining Figure', 'Working Model for Upright Internal/External Form' and 'Helmet Head No 4: Interior-Exterior'. Also on display are drawings, paintings and installations by artists including Paul Noble, Simon Starling and Paul McDevitt, and photographs of some of Richard Long's most famous pieces of Land Art, which echo Moore's preoccupation with found objects, as is most evident in his maquettes made of small pieces of bone, stone, and shells. The Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, Hertfordshire, until 26th October.
Malevich is a retrospective of the radical and hugely influential figure in modern art, who lived and worked through one of the most turbulent periods in 20th century history. Having come of age in Tsarist Russia, Kazimir Malevich witnessed the October Revolution first-hand. His early experiments as a painter led him towards the cataclysmic invention of Suprematism, a bold visual language of abstract geometric shapes and stark colours, epitomised by the 'Black Square', which sits on a par with Duchamp's 'readymade' as a game-changing moment in 20th century art. Starting from his early paintings of Russian landscapes, agricultural workers and religious scenes, the exhibition charts Malevich's journey towards abstract painting and his iconic Suprematist compositions. The show also explores his collaborative involvement with architecture and theatre, including his designs for the avant-garde opera 'Victory over the Sun'. In addition, the exhibition follows his temporary abandonment of painting in favour of teaching and writing, due to state pressure, and his much-debated return to figurative painting in later life. Malevich's work tells a fascinating story about the dream of a new social order, the successes and pitfalls of revolutionary ideals, and the power of art itself. This exhibition, for the first time, offers a chance to trace his groundbreaking developments through both well-known masterpieces and earlier and later work, sculpture, design objects, and rarely-seen prints and drawings. Tate Modern until 26th October.
Virginia Woolf: Art, Life And Vision explores the life and achievements of one of Britain's most important and celebrated writers of the 20th century. Virginia Woolf was a very significant thinker, who played a pivotal role at the heart of modernism. The exhibition, featuring over 140 items, comprising painted portraits, sculpture, photographs, drawings, personal objects and rare archival material, explores her achievements as a novelist, intellectual, campaigner and public figure. The display looks at Woolf's early life, literary interests, her fascination with London, awareness of modernity, and her developing feminist and political views. These are brought into focus through letters to and from her friends and acquaintances, extracts from her personal diaries, and original books that were first printed through the Hogarth Press, which she founded with Leonard Woolf in 1917. Highlights of the display include portraits of Woolf by her Bloomsbury Group contemporaries, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Roger Fry; a collection of photographs by Beresford, Man Ray, and Beck and McGregor who photographed her for Vogue; one of Picasso's 'Weeping Woman' drawings created specifically for a Spanish Civil War fundraising event in which Woolf took part; and the letters that she wrote to her sister and to her husband shortly before she died. The exhibition also features portraits of those she was closest to, including a selection of intimate photographs recording her time spent with friends, family and literary peers. National Portrait Gallery until 26th October.