News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 16th November 2005


China: The Three Emperors, 1662 - 1795 presents the artistic and cultural riches of the three most powerful rulers of China's last dynasty, the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors. Some 400 works include such treasures as paintings and painted scrolls, jades and bronzes, porcelain and lacquer ware, precious robes and embroideries, palace furnishings, scientific instruments, weapons and ceremonial armour, and examples of calligraphy. They are largely drawn from the unique collections of the Palace Museum in Beijing, which was established on the site of the Imperial Palace, built in 1420, known as the Forbidden City. It combines the former imperial collections, and very few of its works have ever been seen outside China before. A spectacular range of paintings and objects illustrate the various activities, projects and accomplishments associated with the three emperors. Using the great painters of the court and the principal workshops of China who were at their command, they had themselves portrayed in magnificent paintings and commissioned dazzling works of art to the glory of the state. Among the highlights of the exhibition are court paintings illustrating the many different occasions that marked the calendar. Huge hanging scrolls 18 yards long, hand scrolls and albums show imperial palaces, hunting expeditions and journeys undertaken across the empire, together with representations of ceremonial events such as royal visits and the emperors' birthday celebrations. Royal Academy of Arts until 17th April.

James Turrell, the American installation artist who mixes art with science, has created three colour-light-space environments indoors in the new Underground Gallery. Turrell uses light to make sculpture by transforming the perceptions of those who enter his creations. The exhibition features a new work 'Ganzfield: Tight End', which envelopes the entire gallery and viewer in a blue radiance, recreating a 'ganzfeld experience' (first noted by Arctic explorers who suffered a temporary form of snow blindness as a result of gazing at endless fields of white) where atmosphere, diversity and the mass of light gradually become physically felt. The second, 'Gray Day', appears to be a completely black environment, so that visitors have to rely on their non visual senses, in which Turrell, using state of the art electronics, optics and physics, sets in motion primitive natural instincts, until eventually strange shapes begin to appear. The third, 'Wedgework V', is another dark space, where a complex series of glows unfold into an arrangement of ghostly rectangles and crisscrossing outlines, in which visitors have no way of finding their light sources, or whether they are voids or solids. A spooky 21st century haloween experience. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield until 3rd September.

Henri Rousseau: Jungles In Paris is the first exhibition to be held in the UK for 80 years of work by an artist who created some of the most popular and memorable paintings of the modern era. Rousseau is celebrated for his visionary jungle paintings that captivate the viewer with the lushness of their plant and animal life, painted with incredible detail and precision. Extraordinarily he never saw the tropical scenes he brought so much to life, as he never left France. Rousseau's exotic jungle paintings are the fantasies of a city dweller, constructed from visits to the zoo and botanical gardens in Paris, from postcards, books and from his imagination. These jungles offered him a dream of escape from humdrum reality to a savage and yet enchanting realm. Rousseau's unique vision was celebrated by his modernist contemporaries like Pablo Picasso and the surrealists Rene Magritte and Max Ernst, who saw his work as opening up new realms of artistic possibility. They were fascinated by his bold, primitive style and the dream like nature of his paintings. For a customs official who was self taught and only took up painting full time in retirement, this was an extraordinary accomplishment. The exhibition features 50 works, including an extensive group of jungle paintings, and draws comparisons between these and Rousseau's other main areas of artistic interest: Parisian landscapes, portraits and allegorical paintings. Also on display is a comprehensive survey of Rousseau's source materials, offering an insight into his working methods and the Paris of his time. Tate Modern until 5th February.


Samuel Palmer: Vision And Landscape celebrates the range of one of the most original and appealing of British landscape painters of the Romantic era. Palmer's rich and sensual images of the countryside combine a vivid sense of vision with intimacy and tenderness, but there is also an undertow of mystery, even tragedy, in much of his work. His purpose, to reclaim the spiritual element in English landscape, represents the intuitive, pastoral and nostalgic aspects of the Romantic period at their most intense. Palmer's best known works are the paintings and drawings he produced at the beginning of his career, when he was part of an artistic community at Shoreham in Kent. It was these pictures, which seemed so modern in their experimentation, that made him a powerful influence on many artists in the 20th century. However, he never enjoyed more than modest success for the muted form of lyrical landscapes that he practised, although he produced work of high quality, including views of known places such as 'Tintagel Castle', and idealised scenes such as 'A View of Ancient Rome'. The exhibition traces the deliberate 'primitivism' of his early work, inspired by William Blake, Milton and Durer, through his public career in the 1840s, to the revival of his 'inner sympathies' in the 1860s, with a series of watercolours and etchings for works by Milton and Virgil. Among the highlights of some 150 watercolours, sketches and etchings are 'Cornfield by Moonlight', 'The Magic Apple Tree', 'In a Shoreham Garden', 'A Hilly Scene', 'The Bellman' and 'The Lonely Tower'. The British Museum until 22nd January.

Point Of No Return: Photographs By Thomas Joshua Cooper marks the midway point of 'The World's Edge - The Atlantic Basin Project', Cooper's epic endeavour to record the extremities of land that surround the Atlantic Ocean. So far, he has mapped the western seaboard of Africa and Europe. In doing so Cooper explores nature and humanity's place within it - the physical and psychological boundaries of civilisation, and the urge to push those boundaries further. From 1969 Cooper has observed a vow to only make outdoor pictures using a 19th century AGFA wooden field camera, each remote site the subject of just a single exposure. The resulting photographs, in rich black and white, chronicle his journey in a story of vast seas, with the changing coastline or the occasional horizon offered as the only boundary. They appear to both document fact, and offer a mysterious other worldly vision. Cooper's work attempts to evoke the pioneering voyages of discovery of the 17th century with their spirit of wonderment, and several of the chosen locations have particular relevance to the journeys of navigators such as Columbus and Magellan. His mapping of the landscape in black and white detail also follows in the tradition of American photographers such as Timothy H O'Sullivan. The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester until 4th December.

Dancing To The Music Of Time: The Life And Work Of Anthony Powell explores the world of one of the most important English novelists of the 20th century. Powell was a key member of a group of writers, among them Cyril Connelly, George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh, who came to prominence in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He is best known for his twelve novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time, about London society in the first half of the 20th century, taking its title from the Nicolas Poussin painting, which is featured here. The exhibition focuses on Powell's life, his friends and contemporaries, and his career as a novelist and art collector. Among the objects on display are portraits of Powell and his friends, and many original manuscripts and illustrations relating to his opus. These include typescripts of the novels, his manuscript notebook, drawings for book covers by Misha Black, Osbert Lancaster and Mark Boxer and promotional posters. Powell's acute sense of humour is evident in his scrapbooks and a photo album documenting a spoof detective mystery 'The Tranby-Croft Case' acted out by Powell and his wife, together with Francis Watson and Gerald Reitlinger during a weekend in 1937. Works of art from Powell's own collection include drawings and paintings by J F Lewis, Sickert, Vuillard and Picasso. These are seen together with letters, post cards, documents, photographs, books, furniture and other objects from his idiosyncratic Somerset home The Chantry. The Wallace Collection until 5th February.

Rubens: A Master In The Making tells the story of Peter Paul Rubens's ascension from working as a pupil of a minor Antwerp artist, to become the dominant international painter of his time. It is the most thorough explanation of what was called 'the fury of the brush' ever attempted. The story begins in Antwerp, with works such as 'The Battle of the Amazons' and 'The Battle of Nude Men', where Rubens is sketching the movement and placement of bodies to create the energy and motion that was to become the signature of all his paintings. On his 8 year study trip to Italy, he was exposed to the Renaissance greats Michelangelo and Raphael, and the revolutionary style of Caravaggio, whose influence is revealed in paintings such as 'The Fall of Phaeton', 'St George' and 'Hero and Leander'. Three versions of 'The Judgement of Paris', using different mediums: oil on oak, oil on copper and oil on panel, show Rubens's evolution in style, from undefined bodies to more defined physiques. A group of Genoese portraits from 1606 offer the opportunity to focus on works that are by Rubens's hand alone, undiluted by any workshop assistance. The culmination of the show is a group of Rubens's best known heroic images, created from an amalgam of sources on his return to Antwerp. These include 'The Descent from the Cross', 'The Entombment' 'Samson and Delilah', 'The Massacre of the Innocents', 'Ecce Homo' and 'Roman Charity' - works that were last seen together in Rubens's studio. National Gallery until 15th January.

Fashion And Fancy Dress: The Messel Family Dress Collection 1865-2005 chronicles and interprets the clothes worn by six generations of women from one remarkable family. The exhibition features 55 outfits, drawn from a unique collection of garments, never before exhibited, exploring how treasured items of clothing, collected and preserved over time, represent family memory and heritage. A singular artistic and creative eye runs through the six generations, encompassing English, Irish, French and Chinese style, a love of fancy dress, and a specific choice of fashion designers. From the 1870s onwards the women of this extended family - Mary Anne, Marion, Maud, Anne, Susan, Alison and today Anna - fulfilled their social obligations to dress correctly, while demonstrating a strong individual style and a gentle aesthetic eccentricity. As well as garments worn on Society occasions - wedding, christening, evening, sporting, Coronation and mourning - the exhibition also features the Messel embroidery workshops, the development of the Nymans embroidery workshop. It also reflects the family's love of jewellery and fancy dress, used in re-enactments of their 18th century ancestors, and at other fancy dress balls from the 1910s to the 1930s. Throughout the exhibition, items of dress and accessories are set in their social context through period photographs, film footage and rarely seen portraits. Brighton Museum and Art Gallery until 5th March.

Roger Fenton: Photographs 1852-60 showcases the work of one of the most important 19th century photographers, with over 90 images surveying all aspects of his groundbreaking career. Fenton set out to be a painter, studying in London and Paris, but in 1851, he took to the newly invented process of photography. While Fenton's photographic career lasted little more than a decade, his work features some of the greatest accomplishments in the history of the medium, a fact reflected by the scope of his influence. In 1852 he made what are believed to be the first photographs of Russia and the Kremlin; in 1853 the British Museum invited him to document some of their collections; and he helped to found the Photographic Society (which later became the Royal Photographic Society). Fenton's landscape and architectural views came to the attention of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, with whose help he travelled to Balaclava to document the Crimean War. On his return, Fenton travelled throughout England, Scotland, and Wales, making ambitious studies of the countryside, cathedrals and country houses. While several of Fenton's photographs on display are distinguished by their evocative depictions of light, atmosphere, and place, others demonstrate his appreciation of the solidity, permanence, and integrity of English architecture. Tate Britain until 2nd January.


Designing Modern Life - A History Of Modern Design is an ambitious exhibition that explores how design has transformed daily life over the last century. By reconstructing innovative projects that dominated future developments in design, the exhibition shows how ingenious designers have harnessed advances in materials and technologies, as well as cultural, social and behavioural changes, to transform the way we work, rest and play. These include the model modern apartment designed by Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand in 1920s Paris; a London Transport underground platform of the 1930s, showcasing its pioneering graphics; one of the rooms designed by Arne Jacobsen for his showpiece SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen in the 1950s; and a 1960s office equipped by Dieter Rams. The exhibition also deconstructs the design histories of specific objects, including the book - from pioneering 1930s Penguin paperback to contemporary books designed and made by Irma Boom - the humble chair, album covers and recent phenomena such as the website. A specially created installation by Spanish designer Marti Guixe of 'Statement Chairs' features items that are both pieces of furniture and commentaries on modern design. In addition, each month a design guru selects 10 examples of good contemporary design costing no more than £10. Design Museum until 27th November.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Exhibition not only brings Douglas Adams's iconic story to life through over 200 costumes, creatures and props from the film, but also explores the science featured in his work, from teleportation and supercomputers, to parallel universes and the big bang. The exhibition takes visitors on a journey from Arthur Dent's kitchen to the far reaches of outer space and back. Shown in recreations of settings from the film, such as the Vogon ship‚ the Heart of Gold and the Planet Factory Showroom‚ highlights include: the actual Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy used in the film; the 8ft tall Vogon Captain Jeltz‚ designed and built by Henson's Creature Workshop - plus footage illustrating the Vogons in action; Marvin the Paranoid Android's life-size costume; Deep Thought, the ultimate computer‚ complete with terminals allowing visitors to ask the 'ultimate question'; concept artwork commissioned and created for the film; behind the scenes footage of Garth Jennings‚ Nick Goldsmith‚ Stephen Fry and Martin Freeman; and - beware - a reading of Vogon poetry. In exploring the science behind the story, the exhibition also reveals how other science fiction writers in the past, such as Jules Verne‚ HG Wells and Arthur C Clarke, inspired scientists and inventors. Don't forget your towel - and Don't Panic. Science Museum until 27th November.

The Mating Game examines some of the most bizarre and beautiful courtship behaviours found in the animal world. The exhibition looks at the different senses animals use to locate a mate, and the methods they employ to win them over, from colour and sound, to unusual acrobatics and gift giving. It uses real animal specimens and 'interactives' - where visitors can guess the animal by the smell and sound it produces. Animals that live over a wide area rely on sound to find a mate. Male and female elephants live independently for most of their adult lives, so females emit a series of powerful low-pitched calls, which can be heard up to four kilometres away. Whales also communicate over huge distances, and the song of the humpbacked whale can be heard underwater hundreds of kilometres away. Lasting up to 30 minutes, it is the longest and most complex song known in the animal world. Sight is frequently used to attract and identify potential mates and colourful displays are most dramatically seen among fish, reptiles and birds. Although most mammals rely on smell and are less colourful, the male mandrill, a type of baboon, is a notable exception, with blue and red markings on the body of the most dominant male, which attracts females and repels junior males. Other animals resort to bribery in order to attract a mate, by giving gifts. A male tern starts his courtship by bringing the female a small fish, held crosswise in his beak, demonstrating his ability to provide for her and for their future offspring. Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring until 27th November.