News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 16th July 2008

Commencing

Boucher And Chardin: Masters Of Modern Manners celebrates the works of Francois Boucher and Jean-Simeon Chardin, two of the greatest French genre painters and their artistic response to the taste for tea drinking and chinoiserie, which became fashionable in 18th century France and Britain. Chardin introduced a new intimacy and middle class values into French genre painting, while Boucher produced genre scenes set in a fashionable and carefree dream world. The highlights of the exhibition are Boucher's 'A Lady on Her Day Bed', on show in Britain for the first time in 70 years, depicting a coquettish young woman lost in a daydream after she has put down a billet-doux, her sumptuous boudoir a treasure trove of trifles and trinkets, providing a fascinating record of French fashions of the time; and Chardin's near contemporary 'Lady Taking Tea', a much more private, austere, muted and less playful scene, but brilliant at mood and at capturing the psychology of its sitter, and a companion piece, 'The House of Cards'. Other contemporary British paintings include Hogarth's 'Western Family', which depicts tea drinking as a symbol of the dangers of luxury. In addition to the paintings, the exhibition examines the background to the fashion of tea drinking through objects and books, including essays warning that the beverage could cause effeminacy and impotence. There is also a trail through the museum's permanent collection of items linked to 18th century tea drinking. The Wallace Collection, London until 7th September.

Gwon Osang And Choe U-ram features sculptures by two contemporary cutting edge Korean artists. Gwon Osang builds life size sculptural figures by assembling hundreds of photographic images on to a three dimensional armature, to build up the surface appearance of his models, including the face, their hair and their clothes. The process gives his beautifully crafted figures both photo-realist and surreal qualities. The photographs, being 3D reality captured through a 2D illusionistic medium, assume a peculiarly disorientating quality when wrapped around the 3D form. It is as if the photographs have been 're-embodied' during a papier-mache class. In addition, the figures' rather unsteady or ungainly poses, when enshrouded by the photographs' characteristic split-second suspense, result in a kind of glossy magazine mummification. Osang's past subjects include a pinhead man, a two headed man and a man with three swan's heads. Here he turns his taste for everyday weirdness towards musician Graham Massey and a mounted police officer. Choe U-ram combines the latest precision engineering technologies with art to create robotic sculptures with echoes of organic forms. He uses cut and polished metals, machinery and electronics to create kinetic sculptures inspired by sea creatures and plant life. Here, Choe U-ram is exhibiting two enormous robotic works, 'Urbanus Female' and 'Urbanus Male', in the atrium. Manchester Art Gallery, until 21st September.

Freeze Frame is a display of some of the earliest photographs of the Arctic, its landscape and people, mounted to coincide with International Polar Year. The exhibition looks at two expeditions to the Arctic, under Captain Edward Inglefield in 1854, and Captain George Nares in 1875. Both expeditions used photographic processes that were in their infancy, involving a significant amount of bulky equipment and chemicals in order to develop the negatives. However, the technique used by Nares had a shorter exposure time, allowing more photographs of the expedition activities to be recorded. Inglefield's photographs were taken on the west coast of Greenland, where he stopped during his voyage to communicate with a naval expedition based at Lancaster Sound searching for Sir John Franklin. The photographs were taken using the wet collodion process, first introduced in 1851. They show Inglefield's ships Phoenix, Diligence and Talbot off the west coast of Greenland, and include portraits of the Inuit, Danish and British people he encountered there. Nares commanded the Polar Expedition with HMS Alert and Discovery. The two photographers, one in each ship, used the dry-plate process, which had been first proposed in 1871. The expedition failed in the objective of reaching the Pole due to the ice and the crews suffering from scurvy, however, significant scientific results were achieved. The prints show expedition activities, people and landscape and were published, setting a precedent for later polar expeditions in the 20th century. Queen's House, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until 31st December.

Continuing

Vilhelm Hammershoi: The Poetry Of Silence is the first retrospective of the celebrated late 19th century Danish artist, and features over 70 paintings spanning his entire career. Hammershoi's most compelling works are his quiet, haunting interiors, their emptiness disturbed only occasionally by the presence of a solitary, graceful figure, often the artist's wife. Painted within a small tonal range of implied greys, these sparsely furnished rooms exude an almost hypnotic quietude and sense of melancholic introspection. Submitting these spaces to a decisive geometric stringency, Hammershoi dispenses with anecdotal detail, which transforms the interiors into hermetically sealed places of disturbing emptiness. With refined discretion, he uses the apartment as a pictorial laboratory to make the viewer sense the emotional abyss behind the facade. In addition to the interiors, the exhibition also includes Hammershoi's arresting portraits, landscapes, and evocative city views, notably the deserted streets of Copenhagen and London on misty winter mornings, such as 'Christiansborg Palace' and 'From the British Museum. Winter'. The magical quietness of Hammershoi's work can be seen in the context of international Symbolist movements of the turn of the last century but the containment and originality of his art makes it unique. The Royal Academy of Arts until 7th September.

The Art Of Doctor Who: Script To Screen reveals for the first time how Doctor Who stories are developed from the initial script to the final television programme, including how the monsters and special effects are created. Visitors can use interactive touch screens, see exhibits on the craft behind monster making, and learn what exactly goes on behind the scenes. These displays feature the expertise behind many production areas, from special effects and CGI, to make up and costume. As well as intriguing insights into how the programme is made, the exhibition features a Tardis, and many of the actual props, costumes and monsters from the BBC series, including new creatures, such as the Sontarin and the Hath, alongside the Doctor's traditional enemies, the Cybermen and the Daleks.

The temporary exhibition joins the six themed galleries exploring space and space travel, each featuring a variety of interactive hands on exhibits and audiovisual experiences, including the Solar System gallery, which explores our nearest planetary neighbours, and includes a space flight simulator, and the Milky Way gallery, which shows the formation and life cycle of stars, plus the Space Dome planetarium, which uses the latest high resolution digital projection technology to create a journey through the stars. Spaceport, Victoria Place, Seacombe, Wallasey, Wirral, The Art Of Dr Who until 11th January.

The Ramayana: Love And Valour In India's Great Epic is the first time that over 120 paintings from the lavishly illustrated 17th century manuscripts in the volumes of Rana Jagat Singh of Mewar have been on public display. The Ramayana is one of the world's greatest and most enduring stories, and is considered to be fundamental to the art and culture of India and South East Asia. It is an ancient Sanskrit epic which follows Prince Rama's quest to rescue his beloved wife Sita from the clutches of a demon king with the help of an army of monkeys. Comprising 24,000 verses in seven cantos, the epic contains the teachings of the very ancient Hindu sages. Illustrated on the grandest scale, with over 400 paintings, the vivid, brightly coloured scenes are packed with narrative detail and dramatic imagery, with no episode of the great epic overlooked. The exhibition also explores how the story has constantly been retold in poetic and dramatic versions by some of India's greatest writers, and in narrative sculptures on temple walls. It is one of the staples of later dramatic traditions, employed in dance dramas, village theatre, shadow puppet theatre and in annual Ram-lila plays. As well as paintings, the exhibition features textiles and sculptures, shadow puppets and dance costumes, together with archive recordings of readings and chantings of the Sanskrit and other versions of the Ramayana, the singing of devotional hymns to Rama, and dramatic and dance music from India and South East Asia. British Library Gallery until 14th September.

Radical Light: Italy's Divisionist Painters 1891 - 1910 examines the work of a loosely knit group of avant-garde artists in northern Italy, in the late 19th century, who came to be known as Divisionists. They mounted a radical artistic response to conditions of economic crisis, political uncertainty and widespread social unrest in post unification Italy. Through 'the investigation of colour in light' the Divisionists sought to challenge the paradoxes of the modern world. Inspired by French developments with pointillism, and fuelled by a desire to increase the luminosity and brilliance of their paintings, these artists developed new techniques applying paint in a variety of dots and strokes. Influenced by the study of optical science, they believed unmixed threads of 'divided' colour would fuse for the viewer at a distance and bring maximum luminosity to their paintings. This technical innovation accounts for the singular intensity of their paintings. Many of the key Divisionists were also politically motivated, and Giovanni Segantini, Giuseppe Pellizza, Angelo Morbelli and Emilio Longoni, among others, adopted Socialist ideas and strove for 'an art not for art's sake but for humanity's sake'. From Longoni's 'The Orator of the Strike' to Umberto Boccioni's 'The City Rises' the exhibition explores the evolution of Divisionism from its early beginnings to the formation of Italian Futurism, which later emerged from this movement. As workers migrated from the fields to the cities, many Divisionists escaped to the countryside producing paintings such as Segantini's 'Spring in the Alps' and 'The Punishment of Lust', Pellizza's 'The Living Torrent', Morbelli's 'For Eighty Cents!', and Vittore Grubicy's eight canvas polyptych 'Winter in the Mountains'. National Gallery until 7th September.

The Fabric Of Myth explores the symbolic function of textiles in classical myth and their thematic influence on both historic and contemporary art. By tracing these narrative beginnings, the exhibition offers insights into the mysterious power of fabric, the celebrity of its makers, and the supernatural component of its production. For centuries weaving was a vital force that homogenised societies, thereby reflecting important principles and beliefs, and the exhibition features embroidery, tapestries, illustrated manuscripts and classical artefacts. Historically, the exhibition explores the theme of classical myths as seen through Greek mythological figures such as the Three Fates, Arachne, Ariadne, Circe and Penelope, in addition to Lord Alfred Tennyson's Lady of Shalott locked in her tower weaving, to the embroideries of Mary Queen of Scots in captivity. It also explores the work of artists who use fabric as a medium to communicate personal and cultural myths, including Delaine Le Bas, William Holman Hunt, Alice Kettle, Elaine Reichek, Bispo Do Rosario, Tilleke Schwarz, Judith Scott, Leonid Tishkov, Michele Walker, Shane Waltener and Annie Whiles. Highlights include Joseph Beuys's 'Felt Suit', which symbolically acts as the embodiment of the artist's personal myth; Louise Bourgeois's 'Spindle', expressing ideas relating to personal restoration; Henry Moore's 'Three Fates', which renders them as sympathetic and reluctant arbiters of life and death; and Ray Materson's miniature embroideries, created while in jail and made by unraveling then reconfiguring the socks of fellow inmates. Compton Verney House until 7th September.

The Last Debutants transports visitors back to the sumptuous, sophisticated and glamorous debutante season of 1958, in an exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the last presentations of debutantes to the Queen. For a select group of aristocratic and upper class families 'coming out' had long been a rite of passage, marking the entry of their teenage daughters into fashionable society and the marriage market. The London season began with the girls', or debutantes', formal presentation at court, when, dressed in all their finery, they would file into Buckingham Palace and curtsey to the Queen. This exhibition provides a glimpse into this world, the detailed preparations required for 'coming out', and events that constituted The Season. It reveals the bewildering rules of etiquette, and dizzying schedule of presentations, cocktail parties and dances, with a backdrop of original items lent by former debutantes, complemented by atmospheric audiovisual material. The isplay features accessories and examples of couture dresses by Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain, Jacques Heim and Worth worn by the debutantes for evening engagements and their official court presentations at Buckingham Palace. There is even a former debutante from the famous Vacani School of Dancing on hand to teach the art of the perfect curtsey. The exhibition captures the spirit of a world in transition, in which the status of the upper classes became a subject of fierce debate, and sets the scene for change that would see social unrest, political activism and teenage culture. Kensington Palace until 16th October.

Concluding

Skin+Bones: Parallel Practices In Fashion And Architecture is the first show in the Embankment Galleries at Somerset House, a new exhibition space where the Hermitage Rooms used to be, which will focus on photography, design, fashion and architecture. Traditionally, fashion and architecture have remained quite distinct, but in recent years however, the two disciplines have become closer than ever before. Frank Gehry's controversial design for tower blocks on the seafront at Hove in Sussex has even been described as looking like 'transvestites caught in a gale'. Taking the early 1980s as its starting point, this exhibition examines the many visual and conceptual ideas that unite the two disciplines. By examining designs by over 50 internationally renowned architects and designers, including Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, Future Systems, Herzog and de Meuron, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, through garments, maquettes, architectural models and photographs, the exhibition reveals how inspiration in both disciplines have come from the same sources. It also shows how they can borrow each other's techniques, as with Hussein Chalayan's Remote Control Dress, made from aircraft material with moveable flaps and structural lines like the design of an aeroplane, and Heatherwick Studio's Temple, which echoes the undulating, organic folds of a piece of cloth combined with a mille-feuille stepped texture on the outside. Embankment Galleries, Somerset House until 10th August.

Snapshots In Time: 150 Years Of Excellence celebrates the 150th anniversary of the opening of the present Royal Opera House in Covent Garden - the 3rd theatre on the site. A series of showcases and wall displays, located throughout the building, recall some of the great artists associated with the theatre, though costumes, paintings, caricatures and photographs. These include singers Enrico Caruso, Nellie Melba, Adelina Patti, Rosa Ponselle and Eva Turner, and dancers Margot Fonteyn, Vaslav Nijinsky and Rudolph Nureyev. However, the main focus of the exhibition is the theatre itself, reflecting the changes in the building, both front of house and back stage, during its life. It includes items of architectural salvage, such as pillars removed from the grand tier during the major redevelopment in 1997, together with architectural models of the redevelopment proposals, photographs of the Victorian stage machinery removed at that time, and pictures of members of the Royal College of Needlework embroidering the royal crest on the new red and gold stage curtains, together with the actual royal insignia from previous drapes. The exhibition also includes items not normally on public view, such as the chairs made for the Great Exhibition in 1851, donated by Queen Victoria for use in the Royal box. In addition, there is a documentary film charting the theatre's history, directed by Lynne Wake. Royal Opera House, Covent Garden until 4th August.

Pont: Observing The British At Home And Abroad celebrates the work of the very British cartoonist Graham Laidler, who used the pseudonym Pont. Though he died at the early age of 32, Pont left a rich legacy of witty observations on 1930s Britain. He was most famous for drawing 'The British Character', a series of over 100 cartoons which appeared in Punch, in which he wryly observed the idiosyncrasies of the British. Some of Pont's cartoons show how much Britain has changed, while others reveal 'tendencies' of the national character that are as true now as when Pont drew them 70 years ago: 'A Weakness for Oak Beams', 'Love of Keeping Calm', 'Tendency to leave the Washing Up till later' and 'The Attitude to Fresh Air' are just a few such gems. Many of his drawings were packed with tiny jokes in every corner, and readers pored over them at length. One group even formed a Pont Club, which met weekly to discuss his cartoons. As well as a master of the half and full page cartoon, his smaller drawings are triumphs in miniature, revealing comic glimpses of daily life that are still recognisable today. The exhibition includes some of Pont's most famous drawings, as well as sketchbooks, journals and other material never previously exhibited. The Cartoon Museum, London WC1, until 27th July.