Private View held by Richard Andrews
The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around 1,250 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from around 11,000 submissions, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. Over £70,000 is given out to artists included in the exhibition through 10 prizes. This year the show has been masterminded by Stephen Chambers and David Chipperfield with the theme Raw. Highlights include new works by Antoni Tapies, Ed Ruscha, Michael Craig-Martin, Gillian Ayres, Sean Scully, David Hockney and Tracey Emin; plus artists' books featured for the first time. The star work is probably David Mach's 'Silver Streak', a 10ft tall gorilla made of coat hangers. There is also a memorial gallery dedicated to showing the works of the late Craigie Aitchison, Jim Cadbury-Brown, John Craxton, Freddy Gore, Donald Hamilton Fraser, Flavia Irwin and Michael Kidner, plus 3 leaping hare sculptures by Barry Flanagan in the courtyard. The Royal Academy of Arts until 22nd August.
The Glass Delusion takes its name from a form of depression where sufferers imagined themselves to be made of glass, and hence brittle and fragile. The syndrome evokes a psychological separation between reality and imagination, between strength and vulnerability. Glass has the ability to combine opposites and it is this duality that is the inspiration for this exhibition. Contemporary art, artefacts and scientific objects have been brought together to tell the story of human attempts to reconcile the physical and mental worlds. These include: Susan Hiller's video installation 'From Here to Eternity', which comprises a pair of projections on to canvas that trace the pathway of a moving point through a maze; Beryl Sokoloff's 'My Mirrored Hope' immortalising Clarence Schmidt's 'House of Mirrors', a labyrinthine house assembled from wooden window frames, mirrors and found objects; Charles Babbage's scribbling notebook, expressing his first thoughts on Artificial Intelligence; Alan Bennett's 'Klein Bottles', which have no edges, outside or inside but are a single continuous surface; and a new commission by American artist Matt Mullican exploring the visual manifestations of the relationship between information and perception. National Glass Centre, Sunderland, until 3rd October.
Skin considers the changing importance of the largest and probably most overlooked human organ, from anatomical thought in the 16th century through to contemporary artistic exploration. The exhibition focuses on the historical transformation of both the scientific understanding and cultural significance of human skin, plotting it as beliefs, facts and popular mindsets have all evolved. Covering four themes: Objects, Marks, Impressions and Afterlives, it begins by looking at the skin as a frontier between the inside and the outside of the body, which early anatomists saw as having little value, and sought to flay to reveal the workings of the body beneath. It then moves to look at the skin as a living document, with tattoos, scars, wrinkles or various pathologies. Finally, the skin is considered as a sensory organ of touch and as a delicate threshold between life and death. The display incorporates early medical drawings, 19th century paintings, anatomical models and cultural artefacts juxtaposed with sculpture, photography and film works, by artists including Damien Hirst, Helen Chadwick and Wim Delvoye. It is complemented by the 'Skin Lab', which features artistic responses to developments in plastic surgery, scar treatments and synthetic skin technologies, including newly commissioned works by the artists Rhian Solomon and Gemma Anderson. Wellcome Collection, London until 26th September
Rude Britannia: British Comic Art examines the role of humour in British visual culture, from the 1600s to the present day. Through a diversity of art forms, including painting, drawing, sculpture, the comic, film and photography, visual humour is explored in many dimensions. The exhibition is presented and interpreted by some of the country's best known cartoonists and comedy writers, including Steve Bell, Harry Hill, Gerald Scarfe, and the team at Viz Magazine. Drawing on material far beyond the traditional realm of visual satire, the display brings together art, installations and performances, with works by contemporary artists such as Angus Fairhurst contrasted with key historical pieces by James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson and George Cruikshank. Radio, film and new media play a part in the show, reflecting how technological developments have consistently reinvigorated the genre and engaged new audiences. The exhibition reveals the wide variety of ways in which Britain's thriving tradition of comic art has taken shape, and the links between comic practices of the past and present: Donald McGill's saucy seaside postcards are shown alongside works by Aubrey Beardsley and Sarah Lucas, in a section devoted to all things bawdy; Britain's love of the absurd and the visionary is represented by such diverse material as Edward Lear's illustrations, Spike Milligan's cartoons and David Shrigley's sculpture; and politics, social commentary and morality are each explored, from Hogarth's satires of Georgian society to Gerald Scarfe's caricatures of the Thatcher government. Tate Britain until 5th September.
Silent Witnesses: Graphic Novels Without Words brings together the work of internationally recognised artists and illustrators from around the world working in graphic novel form. Spanning publications from the early 20th century to the present day, the works contained in the display are distinct in that all use the capacity of images alone to communicate narrative, functioning entirely without the use of text. The exhibition thus examines the underlying structure and mechanics of developing a graphic novel, exposing it as a unique art form. It looks at the novel in the true sense, as an extended sequence conveying a narrative. The show includes preparation and working drawings, writings, flat plans, sketch books, character studies and associated works, alongside complete book works, to reveal the various developmental stages in creating a graphic novel. The exhibition combines works from a wide range of cultural contexts, from modern popular works, with scratchboard images by Eric Drooker produced for his novel 'Flood', to woodcuts by Frans Masereel for his 1925 work 'Die Stadt', to original drawings by Sara Varon for her books 'Sweater Weather', 'Robo and Hund' and 'Chicken and Cat'. Also in the show is a large scale flat-print version of 'A-Z' by Lars Arrhenius, a novel produced on the A-Z map of London. Other artists featured include: Hendrik Dorgathen, Max Ernst, Matt Forsythe, Alexandra Higlett, Laurence Hyde, Jason, Andrzej Klimowski, Peter Kuper, Chris Lanier, Otto Nuckel, Shaun Tan, Zoe Taylor, Lynd Ward and Jim Woodring. The Collection, Lincoln, until 30th August.
The Deep plunges visitors into the abyss, 11,000 metres down in the ocean, revealing a weird and wonderful deep sea environment. Combining specially created imagery, real specimens - some on display for the first time - and life size interactive installations, the exhibition takes visitors on an immersive voyage to the planet's final frontier. With bizarre creatures that have adapted to their harsh world in unique ways, it reveals the extraordinary yet fragile biodiversity that exists in the deep oceans, and the work of scientists who are helping to preserve this important ecosystem. Highlights include: over 50 real deep sea creatures, preserved for scientific research; a sperm whale skeleton, together with the creatures that can live on a whale carcass for up to 50 years; a replica of a bathysphere steel ball used to go down to the depths by the first deep sea explorers in the 1930s, just 1.5m across, alongside a life size walk in model of a contemporary submersible; delicate glass models of sea creatures made in the late 1800s by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka; a Japanese spider crab, with a leg span of 4m; a 'mermaid' - actually created from a modified guitar fish; a giant squid and a sperm whale in simulated battle, suspended from the gallery ceiling; a viperfish, with fangs so big they cannot fit in its mouth and slide up the front of its face; and historic specimens and reports from the first major oceanography expedition, made by the Royal Navy ship HMS Challenger in 1872. Natural History Museum until 5th September.
Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance And The Camera provides an insight into photographic images made surreptitiously or without the explicit permission of those depicted. Spanning a variety of 'lens-based media' from the late 19th century to the present day, the exhibition offers an illuminating and provocative perspective on subjects both iconic and taboo. Aided and abetted by the camera, voyeurism and surveillance provoke questions about who is looking at whom, and whether for power or for pleasure. The show examines the history of what might be called 'invasive looking' by bringing together more than 250 works of photography and film by well known figures including Brassai, Guy Bourdin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Robert Frank,Nan Goldin, Dorothea Lange, Lee Miller, Thomas Ruff, Paul Strand, Weegee and Garry Winogrand, plus images made by amateur photographers, press photographers, and automatic systems such as CCTV. Taking the idea of the unseen photographer as its starting point, the show includes images of clandestine, informal or candid situations, impromptu and even intimate moments, made by photographers who have worked in ingenious and inventive ways, often using small or easily concealed cameras. The exhibition includes examples of erotic photography, the cult of celebrity and the paparazzi, and the phenomenon of surveillance. Highlights include images from Brassai's Secret Paris of the 1930s, Walker Evans's subway portraits, Weegee's photographs of Marilyn Monroe, and recent work by artists and photographers such as Philip-Lorca di Corcia and Shizuka Yokomizo. Tate Modern until 30th October.
The Lewis Chessmen: Unmasked uses new research to look at the mystery and intrigue surrounding the Lewis Chessmen. The exhibition comprises the whole collection of 83 ivory pieces, which are displayed with a range of other objects to illuminate their background. The display explores the stories surrounding their discovery, and shows how the characters reflected society at the time they were made. The Lewis Chessmen were discovered on the western shore of the Isle of Lewis in 1831, as part of a hoard of walrus ivory. The chessmen, between 3 and 4 inches high, are in the Romanesque style that was universal in northern and western Europe in the Middle Ages. With a few face pieces and most of the pawns missing, there are enough pieces to indicate they are from at least four chess sets, together with 14 plain ivory disks like the counters for playing board games. The pieces were probably made in Norway in the late 12th or early 13th centuries. As the largest and finest group of early chessmen to survive, they are one of the most significant archaeological discoveries ever made in Scotland. Few chessmen survive at all from the Middle Ages, and these are unparalleled in their high quality, humour and intricacy of design. A new study by the museum challenges the widely held view that they were part of a merchant's hoard when they were buried on Lewis, and suggests that they may have been used for games other than chess. It also proposes they may have been buried in a different place in Lewis than previously thought, and that the pieces may have been carved by up to 5 different craftsmen. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 19th September.
Empire Mail: George V And The GPO looks at the passions of King George V, the 'philatelist king', and the extraordinary advances in design and innovation in the General Post Office of the period. The reign of George V spanned from 1910 to 1936, an era of conflict and great change, which saw the development of a number of communication methods that brought the world closer together. Featuring posters, vehicles, pillar boxes, philatelic rarities and footage from the GPO Film Unit, the exhibition explores themes such as innovations in mail transportation, the first Atlantic air crossing, the rise of graphic design in the 1920s and 1930s and war time memorabilia. The items on display include a sheet of unused Edward VII Tyrian plum stamps, plus the only one known to have been used, sent on an envelope to George V on 5th May 1910 when he was Prince of Wales, which arrived the next day when he had become king, following the death of his father. Other highlights include original artwork, dies, plates and essays from many of the stamps of George V's reign, including the Seahorses and the 1924/1925 Wembley Empire Exhibition; stamps created by Lawrence of Arabia and Lord Baden Powell; items relating to the RMS Titanic, which carried mail; and gems from King George V's own stamp collection, such as Bermuda 'Perots', Cape Triangular errors, an unused Post Office Mauritius 2d stamp and a 1d used on a 'ball cover', which are among the rarest and most valuable in the world. Guildhall Art Gallery, London, until 25th July.
Curious: The Craft Of Microscopy showcases the photography of Susanna Edwards, providing an opportunity to view objects that are rarely or never seen by the public. Using 9 different microscopes dating back to the 18th century, Susanna Edwards has photographed a collection of Victorian slides to create a series of natural images. Each photograph, taken as the eye would see through a microscope, documents how developments in microscopy have changed the way we see the world.
The show features large scale photographic prints alongside the actual historic slides and the instruments used to capture them. The oldest is a 1730s Culpeper microscope, and the most recent, an Axioskop from 1994. The slides contain a range of natural materials gathered for their aesthetic, scientific and educational qualities, including a cat lung, an insect egg and a salamander foot. The exhibition allows visitors to see real examples of the development of the light microscope over the past 300 years, and reveals the crucial importance microscopes have played in the advancement of medical knowledge, and the understanding of health and disease.
Ivory: Treasures From The Odontological Collection comprises a selection of ivory specimens from terrestrial and marine mammals that have teeth or tusks large enough to be classed as 'ivory', ranging from the extinct woolly mammoth to the elusive narwhal. Also included are a selection of historical medical instruments and dentures fashioned from ivory.
Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, until 3rd July.
Relics Of Old London: Photography And The Spirit Of The City offers an insight into photography's historic, and ongoing, role in documenting the texture of the urban environment. Prompted by the imminent demolition of the Oxford Arms, a galleried inn near St Paul's, to make way for the expansion of the Old Bailey in 1875, the Society for the Photographing of Relics of Old London was established. The society decided to use photography as a means of documenting buildings that represented old London that were threatened with destruction, and publishing the results in an annual report. To accompany it, from 1881 onwards, a descriptive text was added, providing a historical background to each of the buildings. This exhibition presents a selection of these photographs from the 1870s and 1880s taken by A & J Bool, and later, Henry Dixon & Son, which capture some of the buildings and streets that were the legacies of earlier centuries, with many showing examples of Tudor or Stuart architecture. In the mid 19th century, these were periods which were often considered to be the most romantic in English history. Both photographers created views within the picturesque aesthetic that was to remain popular with British photography well into the 20th century. As suggested by their name, the Society for Photographing Relics of Old London's principal concern was with the disappearance of an older pre-industrial London. By including buildings of a more domestic scale, the Society showed that urban vernacular architecture was both of historic interest and architectural merit, equally, if not more, at risk than grander public buildings. Royal Academy of Arts until 22nd June.
Underwater brings together artworks created during the past decade inspired by the sea and the underwater world. The exhibition features works by 10 international contemporary artists, from sculpture and paintings to video and soundscapes, with depictions of sublime seascapes, mermaid-like creatures and monsters of the aquatic. Exhibits include videos by Bill Viola, in which two lovers intertwine as they slowly descend into dark waters, Janaina Tschape, where a woman's head rocks from side to side, just beneath the water's surface, and Dorothy Cross, with a woman wafting in sunlit water that teems with jellyfish, her hair billowing with their pulsating forms; drawings by Ellen Gallagher, conjecturing a monstrous creature that has evolved in the far depths, part natural history specimen, part science fiction, and Ed Pien, suggesting a nightmarish underwater realm, in which ghastly creatures do battle; Daniel Gustav Cramer's photographs of the seabed with towering rocks and rising silts; a motorized model submarine by Cut and Scrape lurching about in the clutches of a giant squid, straight from the pages of Jules Verne; tapering metallic sculptures by Klaus Osterwald, suspended as a shoal from the ceiling, emitting the strange chirrupings of fish, as recorded by underwater microphones; Shirley Kaneda's paintings, precise yet free squiggles that are a play on refraction and reflection; and Seunghyun Woo's sculptures of imaginary aquatic flora and fauna, suggesting liquid movement and distortion. Towner Gallery, Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, until 20th June.