News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th November 2000


William Blake is probably the most exhaustive exhibition ever mounted of the work of the unique and innovative British artist and poet, comprising over 500 items. Although largely overlooked in his time, and often derided as a lunatic, Blake's impact and influence on later generations of artists, writers and musicians has been considerable, and he remains a major reference point in British culture today. Blake was a one man industry, combining writing and illustration on engraving plates, the prints from which he hand tinted with watercolours. He was a forthright and opinionated religious non-conformist who frequently saw visions. These often provided the inspiration for apocalyptic images of God, angels, characters from Bible stories and figures from a mythology that he created. Blake's life long interest in the Gothic was a primary source of his distinctive style and technique, and remained for him an ideal of spiritual and artistic integrity. One of the highlights of this exhibition is the entire collection of 100 plates that make up the epic poem Jerusalem, which has not been shown in Britain for almost 80 years. Tate Britain until 11th February.

Lantern-lit Tours feature guides in full period costume who give visitors a taste of the atmosphere of a historic palace after dark. They bring to life the events that took place, together with the personalities involved, during a period of almost two hundred years when this royal residence on the Thames was at the centre of court life, politics and national history. Tours (which may be unsuitable for young children) include mulled wine and Tudor-style canapés served before a roaring log fire. Booking in advance only for Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 5.30pm, 6.00pm and 6.30pm.

Tudor Christmas will celebrates Christmas with jesting and fire juggling in the palace courtyards. Visitors will be able to watch the palace's Master Cook and his team of chefs prepare a feast fit for a King, and even join in the farandole (a Tudor conga) in the state apartments. Hampton Court Palace, Lantern-lit Tours until 20th December - Tudor Christmas from 27th December to 1st January.

Painting The Century: 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900 - 2000 is a simple idea, bringing together one portrait painted in each year of the twentieth century from collections around the world, and presenting them chronologically. The interest is generated by the prominence of both the artist and the subject in their time, and the history of styles represented. It provides a comprehensive chronology of the history and culture of recent times, and celebrates the extraordinary revolutions in styles and attitudes towards the portrait in European and American art during the course of the twentieth century. Artists are of the stature of Munch, Picasso, Beckmann, Grosz, Modigliani, Bacon, Warhol, Hockney, Sutherland and Freud plus a selection of less well known figures. Their subjects include personalities as diverse as Lenin, Elvis Presley, Mussolini, Charlie Chaplin, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Gates and David Bowie. National Portrait Gallery until 4th February.


Telling Time explores the idea of time in relation to paintings. It examines how artists have endeavoured to put time into their work using two themes. Story Time looks at how painters have attempted to tell stories that unfold over time in their unchanging picture. Some painters use a series of images to be read like a comic strip, as in Hogarth's 'Before' and 'After'. Others, as in Uccello's 'Saint George and the Dragon', show more than one moment in a single space, as if sequential events were happening all at once. The Moment And Movement looks at the related problems of how artists have conveyed the effects of rapid movement and captured the moment. Some have chosen to freeze figures in attitudes of movement, as in Caravaggio's 'Boy bitten by a Lizard'. Others have employed blurred images in the way we are now familiar with from photography, as Turner does in 'Rain, Steam and Speed'.

Impression: Painting Quickly In France 1860-1890 continues the theme of time, in that rapidity of execution is a fundamental characteristic of impressionism, which took painting out of the studio and on location. Not all the paintings were actually painted quickly, but were executed in such a way as to look as if they were. The style and subject matter influenced each other in equal measure: a gust of wind, horses thundering down a racecourse, a train rushing over a bridge, lent themselves to the impressionists urgent style. This exhibition brings together more than sixty works from major public and private collections around the world, such as Manet's 'Racecourse at Longchamps' and 'Woman Reading' and Monet's 'Regatta at Argenteuil'. National Gallery, Telling Time until 14th January - Impression until 28th January.

Sisters Select: Works On Paper From The Davies Collection presents some of the less well known (though no less distinguished) drawings and watercolours from the bequest of Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, which forms the major part of the museum's collection. Outstanding works by British artists William Blake, Turner and Stanley Spencer stand alongside works by Cezanne, Daumier and Pissarro. National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff until 11th February.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel: Recent Works is the first major exhibition to examine the engineering design of possibly the greatest British figure from the heroic early Victorian period of engineering. Brunel's practical and theoretical education enabled him to introduce the most innovative designs which have stood the test of time. This is a man whose bridges didn't wobble. In this exhibition leading contemporary practitioners assess the merits of Brunel's designs, giving both an historical and current view of the works. Structural engineer Anthony Hunt reassesses the Royal Albert Bridge, Saltash. Architect Nicholas Grimshaw, responsible for the recent refurbishment of Paddington Station, considers the remarkable original structure. Naval architect Nigel Gee examines the ship SS Great Eastern. John King looks at the achievement of constructing the Thames Tunnel, which saw a million paying customers in its first fifteen weeks. Other key projects featured include the prefabricated hospital at Renkioi, Crimea and the Battle of the Gauges. Design Museum until 25th February.

Gladiators And Caesars: The Power Of Spectacle In Ancient Rome latches on to the resurgence of interest in swords and sandals generated by Ridley Scott's film Gladiator. It looks at all aspects of the entertainment industry in ancient Rome, illustrated with major pieces from the British Museum's own collections, together with objects borrowed from over twenty European museums. For more than five hundred years spectacular events took place in amphitheatres, circuses and theatres across the Roman Empire. This exhibition shows gladiatorial combat (man against both man and animals, including lions, tigers, leopards, bears, elephants and even hippopotami - not to mention women against women), chariot-racing, athletics, boxing and wrestling, and the theatre. There are statues of the emperors who staged the games - including Commodus who actually participated in them - gladiatorial armour, model chariots, reliefs showing combat, theatre masks and illustrations of the arenas which held crowds of up to 200,000 spectators. There is a virtual tour of the exhibition on the British Museum web site. The British Museum until 21st January.

Hung, Drawn And Caricatured: Cartoons 1750-2000 illustrates the long and colourful history of British caricature, cartoons and graphic satire. The exhibition features more than seventy works, from the 1750's, when graphic satire established itself as a popular art form, to work by Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell and Peter Fluck of Spitting Image. British caricature in its hey day was famous for being cruelly biting, shamelessly coarse and frequently obscene. No Member of Parliament or public figure was safe from merciless pillorying by the likes of Hogarth, Rowlandson and Gillray, which would give today's spin doctors apoplexy. Unsurprisingly their work became hugely popular with the public. The exhibition is staged in another hydraulic pumping station converted to artistic use. The Pump House: People's History Museum, Manchester until 1st April.

A Logo For London: The Story Of London Transport's Trademark explores the design and use of one of the first, most successful and instantly recognised corporate logos in the world - the London Transport roundel. This exhibition tells the story from its origins as a simple station platform sign to its present day status as a London icon, comparable to the black cab and the Routemaster bus. It shows how innovators such as Frank Pick and Edward Johnston developed and shaped the design over the past 90 years, as well as how various artists and designers have incorporated the roundel into their artwork. The exhibits from the London Transport Museum's extensive archive include rare roundel signs, a selection from its world famous collection of posters, and unusual items incorporating the logo, ranging from a fork to a trophy. Lectures and a study day accompany the exhibition. London Transport Museum until April.


Apocalypse - Beauty And Horror In Contemporary Art raises the stakes in the battle for the modern art audience, in an attempt to outflank the hugely successful Tate Modern. It is the direct descendent of the 1997 Sensation exhibition, which virtually invented Brit Art, launching the careers of Damien Hirst (pickled shark), Chris Ofili (elephant dung) and Tracey Emin (love tent). There are thirteen installations, paintings, sculptures and multi media works, the majority of which have never been seen in public before. Described as "a story of extremes" it concentrates on themes inspired by the arrival of the 21st century. It is a contemporary, secular interpretation of the biblical story of St John the Divine, which contains elements ranging from the horrors of genocide to the beauties of Utopia. Deliberately controversial, the most disgust/discussion provoking works are: Hell - a monumental installation by Jake and Dinos Chapman depicting the horrors of 20th century genocide. Flex - a video by Chris Cunningham, the cult pop video maker whose work has never previously been exhibited in a gallery, which includes explicit sex scenes featuring two porn stars. La Nona Ora - Maurizio Cattelan's sculpture depicting Pope Paul II being struck by a meteorite. Other contributing artists are: Darren Almond, Angus Fairhurst, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Mariko Mori, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Richard Prince, Gregor Schneider, Wolfgang Tillmans and Luc Tuymans. Royal Academy of Arts until 15th December.

Spitfire Summer marks the sixtieth anniversary of the events of 1940 when Britain stood alone, supported only by the Commonwealth and a handful of governments in exile, facing the threat of imminent invasion by German forces. Paintings, posters, photographs, newsreels, radio broadcasts, letters, diaries, newspapers and personal mementoes chronicle the turning point of the Second World War. The exhibition starts with Winston Churchill's appointment as Prime Minister, illustrated by the typescript of his first speech to the nation as leader; and moves through the Dunkirk evacuation, with exhibits such as a blood-stained flag used as an emergency bandage by the crew of the Massey Shaw; the Battle of Britain, including a love letter written by a pilot to his fiancée shortly before he was killed; and the Blitz with shelter life and bomb damage reflected in the works of artists and photographers such as Henry Moore and Cecil Beaton. Imperial War Museum until 26th November.

Gerrit Dou: Rembrandt's First Pupil although little known now, was probably the most famous Dutch painter of his day, and this exhibition places him back on the list of household names with Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals. Remaining in Leiden when his master moved to Amsterdam, Dou established a school specialising in small-scale, highly-detailed and jewel-like images. He was fascinated by trompe l'oeil effects, often setting his scenes behind illusionistic curtains or stone niches, as if his paintings were windows opening onto a miniature world. Dou is one of the great painters of light in the history of art. He painted a variety of subjects, including portraiture, still-life and religious images, but is most renowned for scenes of daily life - mothers with children, painters in their studios, scholars, musicians, astronomers, schoolmasters and shopkeepers - packed with details, many of which carry symbolic messages. This exhibition, which has been organised by the National Gallery of Art Washington, bring together thirty-five of the finest of Dou's paintings from all periods in his career. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 19th November.