News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th November 2004


The Architecture Gallery is Britain's first permanent space devoted to the display of architectural drawings, models, maquettes and elements of real buildings. The £5.2m project, designed by Gareth Hoskins Architects, brings together the unique collections of the Royal Institute of British Architecture and the Victoria & Albert museum. The display draws on works by great architects from Palladio, Inigo Jones, Christopher Wren and Robert Adam, through Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, to Norman Foster, Zia Hadid and Richard Rogers. The gallery provides a concise general introduction to architecture, for both students and the casual visitor. Around 180 permanent exhibits are split into thematic displays: The Art Of Architecture, The Function Of Buildings, Architects And Architecture and Buildings In Context. They range from British icons such as St Paul's Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster, to the Alhambra in Granada, Fort William in Calcutta and Sydney Opera House. In addition to the permanent display there is an area for temporary exhibitions, where Great Buildings is the opening show. There are also new study rooms and stores, designed by Wright & Wright, to house the RIBA's Drawings, Manuscripts and Archives collections alongside the V&A's Prints, Drawings and Paintings collections, which will allow the public to view the entire archive. Victoria & Albert Museum continuing.

Hungary's Heritage: Princely Treasures From The Esterhazy Collection does exactly what it says on the tin. Jewellery, silver clocks, gold enamelled boxes, carved ivory, gold coins and medals, Medieval silverware and other historical treasures, gifts of gold cups from the Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, bejewelled Turkish daggers and pieces associated with Matthias Corvinus, Hungary's greatest king, make up this exhibition. The Esterhazys were the richest and most powerful family in Hungary, playing a dominant role in Hungarian military and court life from the early 17th century to the early 19th century. Prince Miklos Esterhazy founded the family treasury, having an unerring eye for the magnificent, and the funds to indulge himself. Succeeding generations added to it, logging personal history with silver and gold plate commemorating tragedies and celebrations, and national history through the spoils of military conquest, and gifts exchanged at the signing of treaties and visits by foreign Royalty. The exhibition comprises some 50 outstanding works of art from the Esterhazy Treasury, the first time such a substantial group has been seen outside Hungary. The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House, London until 23rd January.

Art In The Making: Degas is part of a series of exhibitions on artists' techniques. Edgar Degas was one of the most experimental artists of the 19th century, and throughout his long career constantly found new ways to use oil paint, chalk, pastel, essence and printmaking processes - in particular monotypes - often combining two or more media in the same work. This exhibition is an in-depth examination of some twelve works by Degas, ranging across his career, from early portraits to later history paintings. They are complemented by x-radiographs, infra-red reflectograms and pigment analyses, which reveal just how complex Degas' methods could be. He continued to change paintings over long periods, reworking them again and again - even wanting to return to some after they had been sold. Many of what are thought of as Degas' masterpieces were discovered as 'works in progress' in his studio after his death. Images that look spontaneous are revealed to be the result of deliberation, experiment and correction, such as 'Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando', for which Degas even hired an architectural draughtsman to assist in perfecting the cirque's dome. An x-ray reveals that a portrait of his cousin Elena Carafa started with her facing away, but in the final version her face is tilted towards the viewer. Earlier and later versions of 'Young Spartans Exercising', painted some 20 years apart, even show how Degas moved from classicism to modernism. National Gallery until 30th January.


The London Look: Fashion From Street To Catwalk, celebrates the wit and style of London fashion, by bringing together over 200 exhibits by more than 70 designers spanning the past two centuries. As well as the garments themselves, the exhibition presents London fashion through sound recordings, photographs and archive footage of fashion shows and designers at work. Photographers, models and make-up artists talk about their work, alongside a rare film screening of a 1963 Mary Quant fashion show, and fashion photography by Terence Donovan, Sarah Moon, Nick Knight and others. Charting the growth of the city's fashion industry from the late 1940s, items on display range from a silk satin couture evening dress painted with roses by Norman Hartnell (1948), through a floral printed trouser suit by Biba (1973) to a Vivienne Westwood tailored men's suit with matching ermine cape and crown (1987). London's long pre-eminence in tailoring is reflected in suits and overcoats from 19th century Savile Row tailors. London's street styles, from the Teddy boys of South and East London, through the Mods of Carnaby Street, to the Punks of the Kings Road, have their moments of sartorial glory remembered. Finally, the story comes up to date with contemporary clothing and accessories, including men's outfits by Burberry and Paul Smith, alongside dresses by Alexander McQueen, Catherine Walker, Stella McCartney, John Galliano and Giles Deacon. Museum of London until 8th May.

Ed Ruscha has captured the cool spirit of the modern American West Coast, and of Los Angeles in particular, perhaps more than any other artist. In 1956 he took the mythical Route 66 from Oklahoma City (his childhood home) to LA, where he studied commercial art. His experiences of the wide open landscape and man made billboards along the way had a lasting impact on his work. Paintings and drawings of words set against a largely empty, coloured backgrounds and horizons became central to his spare tributes to the Californian landscape. Equally important to Ruscha was the impact of film. Many of his works reflect the way that credits appear, and the show includes a group that deal with the final word on a film - 'The End'. This retrospective of a 50 year career includes drawings on paper, photographs and illustrated books as well as paintings. Among the highlights are photographs of car parks and Los Angeles streets, apartment blocks and neon signs, pop-inspired paintings of objects and words, silhouette paintings, aerial views of intersections and place names, and paintings of text superimposed on panoramic mountain views. Ruscha has even become part of the landscape he loves, with Kent Twichell's 'Ed Ruscha Monument 1978-87' on South Hill Street in Los Angeles - a 70ft portrait of Ruscha staring blankly towards the city's downtown area. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh until 16th January.

Quentin Blake At Christmas looks at several aspects of the work of the first Children's Laureate. A Christmas Garland is a celebration of Quentin Blake's many encounters with the festive season, including his illustrations for Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol' and John Julius Norwich's 'The Illustrated Christmas Cracker', as well as a profusion of other books, cards, postage stamps and advent calendars. Welcome To Birdland surveys his longstanding enthusiasm for birds as a subject, from Aristophanes's 'The Birds', through books such as John Yeoman's 'Up with Birds!' and his own 'Cockatoos', to his new collection of drawings, 'The Life of Birds'. Cross Channel shows illustrated work done specifically for France, and reflects Blake's involvement in publication and education in France. Not For Publication features drawings that are intended for exhibition rather than for inclusion in books, such as 'Children and Dogs'. Finally, Artists And Angels includes the original drawings for Blake's new picture book 'Angel Pavement', described as "a paean to the magic of drawing", which arose out of his work with the Campaign for Drawing, together other works done to promote the activities of the Campaign. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 16th January.

Robert Frank: Storylines is the first solo exhibition in Britain of work by one of the world's most important living photographers. For more than fifty years, Frank has broken the rules of photography and film making, challenging the boundaries between the still and the moving image. Having trained in his native Switzerland, he emigrated to New York in 1947 and began working for Harper's Bazaar and Life. Frank developed a technique of combining realism with the narrative potential of photographic sequencing, which enabled him to capture the poetic qualities of everyday life, travelling extensively in South America, post Second World War Britain and Paris, and rural United States. In the late 1950s he abandoned traditional photography and concentrated on making films, pioneering a revolutionary approach that combined autobiography, poetry, and emotion with gritty realism. Frank returned to photography in the 1970s to make complex constructions, containing multiple prints in black and white and colour, as well as stills from films and videos. The exhibition includes over one hundred and fifty black and white photographs never before displayed outside America, and three films. These include images from 'Peru' 1949, 'London' 1951-52, 'Black White and Things' 1952, 'Wales' 1953, 'Chicago' 1956 and 'The Americans' 1958, the groundbreaking series of photographs of everyday life which changed the language of post war photography. Tate Modern until 30th January.

The Pissarro Family At Home is a selection of works by the Impressionist Camille Pissarro, and subsequent members of the Pissarro family, drawing on the Pissarro Family Archive, a gift made by the widow and daughter of Lucien Pissarro in 1950, giving an insight into the Pissarro family's domestic life spanning three generations. It includes a number of oil paintings by Camille Pissarro, his eldest son Lucien, and Lucien's daughter Orovida, as well as drawings, sketchbooks, letters, and other documentary material. An unusual aspect of the Archive is the number of family portraits, revealing that although not generally known for their portraiture, the human figure occupied a prominent position within the work of Camille and Lucien throughout their careers. The Pissarros also painted many landscapes of where the family lived and worked, and they drew friends and visitors who came to their homes, usually in informal or intimate settings. Highlights include Camille's 'View from my Window, Eragny-sur-Epte', his most successful experiment in the pointillist style; 'Mme Pissarro sewing beside a Window', an intimate portrait of his wife absorbed in a domestic task; and a portrait in oils of Lucien. Among the paintings by Lucien are views of the house and garden at The Brook, Hammersmith, where he settled in 1900, and portraits of his parents, wife, and daughter. The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford until 2nd January.

Must-Have Toys features favourite toys from the last 100 years, brought together for the first time, in the most comprehensive collection of desirable toys ever assembled in the UK. The toys have been selected from both classics - like the teddy bear, which first appeared in 1903, through Meccano, and the Spacehopper, to Beyblades - and surprise best sellers of one particular year - such as Britain's Combine Harvester, the number one toy in 1978. The exhibition reflects how design and technology has influenced the toy industry, with plastic first used to make toys for babies in the 1930s, moving on to the creation of Mr Potato Head, Lego and Bob the Builder. Dolls have always been popular, but in the Swinging Sixties, Sindy and her arch rival Barbie were new and radical teenage dolls, who took their look from the fashion world around them. Sindy was the first toy in Britain to star in her own television commercial. Boys had to wait for Action Man who became popular in the 1970s. In more recent years the influence of film and television has revolutionised the toy industry, with the emergence of merchandise, which started with Star Wars, paving the way for Buzz Lightyear, Power Rangers, Tracy Island and Harry Potter. There are hands on opportunities for children (and adults) throughout the exhibition, including a giant snakes and ladders game and Twister, plus a programme of activities and events scheduled at weekends and during the Christmas holidays. Museum Of Childhood At Bethnal Green until 9th January.


Constance Spry - A Millionaire For A Few Pence is the controversial exhibition that celebrates the work of the society florist and social reformer, who taught millions of mid 20th century Britons how to beautify their homes. From the 1930s to the 1950s, Constance Spry was the dominant influence on British homes, through her own flower arrangements, a floristry school, correspondence courses, radio broadcasts and best selling interior design and cookery books. In an era when many people were furnishing their homes for the first time, hers was the only name that counted in British home making. Although she arranged flowers for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's wedding and the Queen's coronation, Spry's early experience was as a domestic science teacher in the East End of London in the 1920s. This had convinced her that everyone had the right to become 'a millionaire for a few pence' by beautifying even the poorest of homes. She championed arranging flowers, weeds, twigs from hedgerows and wasteland - and even vegetable leaves - in impromptu vases such as baking trays and gravy boats, as beautifully as expensive cut flowers in crystal. Drawn from Constance Spry's archive, this exhibition explores her role in democratising design in mid 20th century Britain and her enduring influence. She was the Martha Stewart of an earlier, simpler time. Design Museum until 28th November.

The E-Type: Story Of A British Sports Car celebrates the E-type Jaguar, one of the most innovative and influential cars ever designed in Britain, which became a cultural icon in the Swinging Sixties. From the moment it was unveiled at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show, it was a sensation. Speedy and stylish, with long low lines and a racing bonnet, it captured the glamour and dynamism of Britain in the early 1960s. The E-Type rapidly became the most fashionable car to own, and was taken up by the celebrities of the day. This exhibition, featuring rare cars and memorabilia from the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, traces the evolution of the E-type design from the elegant XK120 launched in 1948, and the XK120 C-type and D-type racing cars that won the 24 hour races at Le Mans five times in the 1950s. Jaguar's designer Malcolm Sayer, an aerodynamicist who had trained in the aircraft industry, and chief engineer William Heynes, working under the personal supervision of the company's founder William Lyons, produced a car in accordance with strict mathematical principles. Their design refined the silhouette of the 1950s Jaguar racing cars into a sleek sculptural form, capable of a top speed of 150 miles per hour. At £2,097 it offered sporting luxury for half the price of a Ferrari or Aston Martin. Such was the level of innovation in their work, that it still influences Jaguar design today. Design Museum until 28th November.

Poo - A Natural History Of The Unmentionable tells visitors everything they ever wanted to know about poo, and more besides, with lots of disgusting details to delight kids. Based on Nicola Davies's new book of the same title, with illustrations of Neal Layton, it features everything from professional poo eaters to faecal farmers. Sensitive visitors turn away now, as there are 'interactives' which inform the senses about the different types of animal poo by recreating their smells. The exhibition examines those species whose success depends on poo, from the giant otter that uses its faeces to mark its territory, to the Egyptian vulture that eats its own poo to make itself more attractive to the opposite sex. It also shows how information about an animal such as its species, its diet and how much water it drinks, can be found from its poo. This even applies to extinct species, as the fossilised poo (coprolite) of a Tyrannosaurus rex shows it was a carnivore. Looking at disposal, the exhibition reveals that most poo gets eaten, for which the scientific name is 'coprophagy'. The most efficient coprophage is the dung beetle (of which there are over 7,000 different kinds), which is capable of finding poo before an animal has finished producing it, and in the tropics, can completely remove a normal portion of human dung within an hour. Take a pair of surgical gloves and a clothes peg for your nose. The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring until 28th November.